Peugeot is developing an estate version of the 308 GTI. The performance variant of the recently unveiled estate has been caught in winter testing as Peugeot mulls whether or not to launch another entrant into a niche segment populated by the likes of the Skoda Octavia vRS estate and Ford Focus ST estate.

The car would be a sister model to the 308 GTI hot hatchback, which is expected to be seen at a major European motor show this year, possibly at the firm's home show in Paris in the autumn.

The hot hatch is being billed as a direct rival to the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The choice of the Golf GTI as the main target for the 308 GTI is significant. The Golf GTI’s classy, understated looks and all-round usability are privately admired by Peugeot bosses, and the formula is seen as the best way to make a performance family hatchback fit in with Peugeot’s desired premium image.

Lightly disguised mules of both the estate and hatchback, which was caught by our spy photographer last year, show a look for the 308 GTI with similar visual changes to the standard car as the Golf GTI has over a standard Golf. The design also draws inspiration from the 308 R hot hatch concept shown at last September's Frankfurt motor show.

The changes include revised front and rear bumpers, new fog lights, twin exhausts and a new set of alloy wheels. Detail changes are expected for the interior, too.

The 308 GTI rides lower than the standard car, with revised suspension settings to suit its sportier brief. It is expected to be powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with around 220bhp – a close match to the 217bhp the Golf GTI’s 2.0 TSI engine produces in its standard state of tune.

That power figure would also make the 308 GTI estate a match for the 217bhp Skoda Octavia vRS, although it would give away around 30bhp to the 247bhp Ford Focus ST.

The standard 308 estate will be launched at the Geneva motor show in March.

Thanks to: Autocar