We could think of more interesting gifts — a GT3-spec RCZ, perhaps — however, with the 1.6-litre 200bhp engine from the RCZ, it’s still better than a cheap cake and some novelty socks.

But do not be fooled. This 308 GT is not a hot hatch. It might look like one, but the lack of an ‘I’ after its name suggests otherwise. lt has similar power to a Golf GTI, but — to avoid a bloody nose — Peugeot has positioned the five-door-only GT in different territory, hoping to strike a balance between mundane runabout and ballsy hot hatch.

Despite that, this is still the most powerful 308 you can buy. The engine, shared not only with the RCZ but also the Mini, is excellent: smooth, revvy and quick. lt’ll do 0—100 in 7.7 seconds, and carry on all the way to 205kph, so you’d be forgiven for driving briskly. But somehow the rest of the car doesn’t encourage that sort of behaviour.

OK, we know it’s not a GTI, so the suspension is softer than that of a hardcore hatch. In exchange for this, you oould reasonably expect an absorbent ride… but it fails here too — clattering over the sort of broken surfaces that constitute 90 per cent of our highways. Instead of finding a neat balance between comfort and sportiness, the 308 has somehow found the worst bits of both. It’s too soft to make the most of that engine, and too crashy to be comfy.

Perhaps that can be forgiven when you look at the list of standard equipment. The GT pack includes half-leather sports seats, parking sensors, Bluetooth. Electric folding door mirrors, rear parking sensors, aluminum detailing and. Well, the list goes on. And on. There’s a bodykit, which features deeper. Scoopier bumpers, twin chrome exhausts, a rear spoiler and 18-inch alloys. To most eyes, the 308 will never be pretty — it reminds us of that monster from the Goorzies— but the new bits help disguise some of the Habbiness. And for the money, you won’t find much else as well-equipped and powerful as this 308.

But try to resist the temptation. Being the most powerful 308 is ultimately a bit pointless… like having a deadly warhead, with no missile to deliver it. If you like driving, and the fact you read this magazine suggests you do, then you’ll find this rather frustrating.

If you’re in the market for a well- equipped-sub-GTI-type-five-doon hatch, have a look at a Seat Leon FR. You might sacrifice a few optional extras, but your inner Stig will be pleased.

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