PEUGEOT’S diesel-powered 308GT hatchback answers a question few people would ask.

Who wants a hot hatch with a diesel engine?

There is a 308GT with a petrol engine, which is more directly a rival for other hot hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Golf GTi or Renault Megane RS, but the diesel GT sits out there as the only such offering in its class.

It’s an unexpectedly sweet combination for real-world driving.

The 2.0 litre turbo oil-burner pumps out 133 kiloWatts of power and 400 Newtonmetres of torque from 2000 rpm. That’s a mountain of pulling power even for a bulky SUV, but the 308GT diesel is much lighter at 1320 kg and therefore responds brilliantly.

Turbo-diesel power delivery is all about rolling response. The petrol GT accelerates faster from rest and has a higher top speed and should be the choice for owners who participate in track days and other competitive activities when not commuting.

But for punching through traffic or rapidly overtaking a B-double truck on the open road, this diesel is a star in its class. Plant the accelerator and hang on – all the way to 220 kmh if you’re in the Northern Territory!

Transmission in the GT diesel is six-speed auto with paddle shifts. With this combination, combined average fuel consumption is just 4.0 litres per 100 kms and CO2 emissions 103 grams per kilometre – impressively close to the 100 g/km benchmark that very, very few cars yet achieve.

Rounding out the GT package, the 308 comes with lower, stiffer suspension, uprated steering and braking and a re-mapped engine computer that improves accelerator and auto transmission response. The little Pug squats securely on the road and straightens bends with ease.

The 308GT diesel’s $42,990 recommended retail price isn’t cheap for a small hatch, but it includes a class-beating list of high-end equipment.

Standard features include self-parking, active cruise control that adjusts to the speed of the vehicle ahead, blind-spot monitoring, reversing camera, head-up instrument display, information screen with performance readouts, key-less ignition and programmable interior mood lighting.

Given the 308 range was European Car of the Year in 2014, the GT models are just icing on the cake. The sophisticated and refined diesel variant is one of my favourites of 2015.