With a firework you light the blue touchpaper and stand well back. With Peugeot's 308 GTI you press an innocuous-looking button.
Pushing the small button that nestles between the front seats, is like jabbing an already angry bull in the privates with a red-hot poker.
The dashboard literally glows red, a set of digital read-outs appear, displaying power, torque, boost and acceleration, and the growl from the twin exhausts rises. At the same time, the accelerator pedal feels lighter and an already powerful car clearly strains at the leash.
Howling exhausts, bucket seats and 0-62mph acceleration in just six seconds might sound a little scary, and in the wrong hands it certainly could be, for the GTI is among the most intense of hot hatches and demands the utmost respect.
Giving the car its full name, the 308 GTI by Peugeot Sport, underlines the fact that the French carmakers brought in expert engineers from its own high-performance division, to ensure that the car's mighty punch is managed safely.
Key to reining in the 270 horsepower that the 1.6-litre engine can deliver through the front wheels is an already superb chassis, strengthened by a new tuned GTI-specific front suspension.
Stiffer springs in the rear also help to keep things under control and the more powerful of the two GTI models also has a Torsen limited-slip differential incorporated into the transmission to improve cornering grip. By channelling the torque to the wheel with the highest traction, the system also makes it possible to accelerate faster out of bends.
The onboard electronics match the car's athletic temperament and the power steering is designed specifically to work in conjunction with Torsen technology.
The lean car adopts a striking stance, sitting 11 millimetres lower to the ground on huge 19-inch Carbone wheels. The GTi 270 version's wheels showcase whopping discs at the front with red four-piston calipers and are shod with Michelin Super Sport rubber.
The interior styling is equally sporty, with an anthracite-style feel right up to the roof. The dinky, flat-bottomed steering wheel is trimmed in leather and red stitching features on the dashboard, upholstery, door panels, gear lever and floor mats. The door sill also carries the Peugeot Sport and GTi signature and is in aluminium, as are the pedals, foot rest and gear knob.
The pay-off for all this thrilling performance is, as you would expect, a car with brilliant handling but an unforgiving ride.
But tap that little button again and the noise level falls, the dashboard returns to an altogether calmer display of white dials and the throttle response becomes much less frantic.
Now you are back in the land of the more normal 308 – a spacious, well-equipped and thoroughly practical five-door hatchback.
A large colour touchscreen that controls everything from satellite navigation to climate control, telephone link to hi-fi, means the dashboard is kept clean, tidy and virtually free of buttons.
Driven sensibly there is also the potential of 47mpg, though I could not better 40mpg in my 400 miles behind the wheel.
The last word goes to a young lad who spotted the car across a supermarket car park and shouted to his pal: "Wow. Look at that Audi!" Wrong car, but I know what he meant.

Auto facts
Model: Peugeot 308 GTI by Peugeot Sport
Price: £28,890
Insurance group: 15E
Fuel consumption (Combined): 47.1mpg
Top speed: 155mph
Length: 425.3cm/167.4in
Width: 180.4cm/71in
Luggage capacity: 16.6 cu ft
Fuel tank capacity: 11.7 gallons/53 litres
CO2 emissions: 139g/km
Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles