For this month’s motoring reviews, Sussex Business Times got behind the wheels of the Peugeot 308 GTi and, introducing a commercial vehicles focus, the Volkswagen Transporter

Peugeot 308 GTi

What a car! If this wasn’t a review for readers who relish the detail our reviews usually include, I could sum this up quite quickly. Put simply, I love this car.

On first look, it’s pleasing to the eye, looking sturdy, comfortable yet also a bit sporty, with side skirts, front bumper and rear diffuser and a large twin exhaust.  Extensive use of LED technology creates a unique lighting signature at the front and rear of the car, with full LED headlamps positioned alongside distinctive direction indicators and fog lamps. It’s curvy and sleek, and just the right level of dramatic.

It’s got a tiny engine – a 1.6 turbo – but it’s quick and provides as much power as you’d want from a GTi. Now, usually when I press the sport button on any given car, I rarely notice a massive change. However, on the 308, this button transforms this car into a bit of a speed demon – not to mention the red dash that glows when you push the button. Once the demon eyes have opened, you’re in for a real treat.

The little car and engine produces 270 bhp and 0-62 in 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 157 mph. It may not out-run a lot of competitors on the road, which include the VW Golf GTI and Seat Leon Cupra, but what it lacks in simple pace, it makes up for in fun due to its light weight and suspension. It handles well on the road, taking corners smoothly, with a lot of grip, and switching between its 6 gears effortlessly, although other Peugeot models will grip harder and then slip gently but more playfully from the rear axle whilst taking corners. Also, perhaps it could do with a tiptronic steering wheel and flappy paddles for seamless gearshifts.

Overall, you can tell that Peugeot have tried to maintain the rally feel from the 205 GTi. They’ve done a sterling job with this. The interior hosts all the aspects you’d want too, including half-leather/half-Alcantara upholstery, heated and massaging front sports seats (of course who wouldn’t want a quick massage whilst driving), cruise-control, dual-zone climate control and Peugeot’s 9.7 inch touchscreen infotainment system complete with sat nav. It also has a DAB radio, reversing camera, plus USB and Bluetooth capability.

The only thing I found quite unresponsive and a little disappointing was the AV. However, having spoken to Peugeot, which claims that the AV is due to be updated come September, I’ll be interested to see the improvement. On another plus point, there’s plenty of boot space and room in the cockpit to feel like you’ve got the space to move about.

All in all it’s a great car, and one that provides stability as well as a lot of fun on the road. I personally think this is one of the best cars that Peugeot has produced if not one of the best hatchbacks on the market. It’s a bit pricier than its competitors, however it’s worth every penny and with a small upgrade to the AV, we can definitely call this one a winner.

Volkswagen Transporter T30 Panel Van Highline SWB EU6 2.0 TDI BMT 150PS

It’s not often we review commercial vans, however with the new VW Transporter we had to get our hands on it.

Thanks to the cult following that VW campervans have collected over the years, this medium sized van competes with the likes of the Ford Transit, Mercedes Vito and Vauxhall Vivaro. The Transporter is Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ best-selling model in the UK and worldwide and we can now agree that this is the best commercial van on the road.

So aside from the lure of the VW badge on the front, the first thing that hits you as you climb in is the sheer comfort of it. This may sound surprising, but I assure you, the seats are set in a high position and they are highly comfortable too. The panel van features a single front passenger seat (or optional two-seat bench) and adds to the vehicle’s flexibility by offering removable rear seating for a further three passengers. All panel van models provide a spacious load compartment with volumes ranging from 5.8 m3 for the short wheelbase low roof, to 9.3 m3 for the long wheelbase high roof

Also coming as a bit of a surprise – given a lot of vans provide a, let’s say limited amount of comfort in their drive – the gearbox is smooth and the ride is seamless. The inside of the van itself has all you would expect from a top of the range VW car or SUV, including a new touchscreen infotainment system that offers smartphone connectivity and standard Bluetooth.

With a low load bed, maximum opening width of 1,473 mm and maximum load height of 1,940 mm, the Transporter is designed to make work easier. All panel van models provide a spacious load compartment with volumes ranging from 5.8 m3 for the short wheelbase low roof, to 9.3 m3 for the long wheelbase high roof return 47.9 mpg on the combined cycle and emits just 153 g/km of CO2.

These are great-added bonus features, which make you feel that you have really spent your money in the right places. The AV is one of the simplest to get to grips with that I have used in any vehicle.

To boot with its mean looking appearance is the power. Having a six-speed gearbox from the punchy engine delivers well and it seems pretty effortless to get up to some decent speeds. With a well above average fuel economy

As a work van you have acre’s of space in the back and 3 seats in the front. It’s difficult to find a negative for this van but if I were going to say something I would say that it would have to be the amount of over steer.

But all in all this is the best commercial van on the road.

Peugeot 308 GTiVolkswagen Transporter
OTR Price£29,404£26,345 excl. VAT
Engine capacity1598cc2.0L
TransmissionSix-speed manualSix-speed manual
0-62mph6 seconds11.1 seconds
Max speed155mph113mph