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Brand New Peugeot 308

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Daniel DeGasperi | Dec 23, 2016 | 10 Comments

Had it launched not too long ago the 2017 Peugeot 308 Allure Touring HDi would have worn a pricetag higher than its new $39,490 plus on-road costs sticker.

Peugeot has in recent times slowly but surely improved the value equation of its lineup, realising that it needs to compete with an aggressive Volkswagen and other mainstream brands. Particularly with the likes of Audi and Mercedes lowering prices, asking a premium for ‘French chic’ would now only translate to all-but-zero sales.

The two-year-old 308 small car range is the latest to benefit from upgrades. In the case of the Touring – or wagon – it results in a range rationalisation from two engines and two specification levels, to one apiece.

The Allure Touring diesel costs $2947 more than before, but $1132 less than the former Allure Premium it largely shares its features with. And it is highly specified.

Vehicle Style: Small wagon
Price: $39,490 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 110kW/370Nm 2.0 turbo-diesel four-cylinder | six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 4.2 l/100km | Tested: 6.5 l/100km

 

OVERVIEW

Consider that a Volkswagen Golf Wagon starts from under $30,000 and perhaps Peugeot’s one-wagon-only strategy seems excessive. Just under $40K is medium SUV territory; a case of Macca’s popularity versus a wagon’s local-deli niche appeal.

The equivalent Volkswagen to this 308 Allure Touring HDi, however, is the Golf 110TDI Highline Wagon priced from $37,340 (plus orc). It may have a head start on price, but buyers will need to select a $1500 Driver Assistance Package to match the Peugeot’s automatic park assistance, blind-spot monitor and adaptive cruise control.

That takes the fight to $38,840 Golf versus $39,490 308, with the former scoring full leather trim and heated front seats, the latter countering with leather/Alcantara pews with massage function and a panoramic glass roof.

Otherwise, only the Mazda6 Touring diesel (from the medium segment above these small wagons) comes close to matching the Peugeot and Volkswagen specification, teamed with a $41,440 (plus orc) sticker.

 

THE INTERIOR

  • Standard Equipment: keyless auto-entry with push-button start, power windows and mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, multi-function trip computer, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, automatic headlights and wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather/Alcantara trim with massage front seats, adaptive cruise control and panoramic glass roof
  • Infotainment: 9.7-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB input, internet connectivity and satellite navigation
  • Options Fitted: 18-inch alloy wheels ($700)

Beyond the stylish exterior of the 308 Touring – particularly when the 18-inch alloy wheels optionally replace the standard 17s, as per our test car – the interior design feels semi-premium enough to warrant a circa-$40K sticker.

At night, soft mood lighting drapes over the beautifully furnished soft-touch dashboard, darker tones interplay with a liberal use of brushed-chrome brightwork and the part-leather seats feel snug. The colour touchscreen is matched by a colour trip computer screen between the high-set speedo and tacho, and it all combines to present extremely well for the price.

The minimalist design of the 308 is far more interesting than its generic Golf rival, although the Peugeot dips out on detail in exactly the places Volkswagen doesn’t – such as providing a single cupholder and a small steering wheel that won’t adjust high enough for lanky drivers (although it’s perfectly fine for this 178cm-tall tester).

At standstill the touchscreen is easy to use, with the exception of its mess of endlessly scrolling iPod sub-menus when a simple keyboard search function would suffice.

However, the system can also be slow to engage, and juggling between climate controls, nav and music – all functions contained on the same screen – is trickier than it needs to be, and anti-ergonomic when a driver should be focused on driving.

Pleasingly, the newly added standard adaptive cruise control, automatic park assistance – for parallel and perpendicular parking spots – and blind-spot warnings are among the easiest to engage and least intrusive on a new vehicle.

Behind the front seats the rear bench is equally comfortable, although legroom is at a premium compared with a Golf and, particularly with the panoramic glass roof, headroom is lacking for what should be a spacious tourer. The rear backrest doesn’t recline, either and rear air-vents are missing (but standard in the Volkswagen).

The boot is enormous, however, and a low loading lip makes it easy to lift heavier items off the ground and into the wagon. Unencumbered by all-wheel drive underpinnings, the 308 Touring is more spacious than most medium SUVs yet is also more fully featured for the price.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • Engine: 110kW/370Nm 2.0 4cyl turbo-diesel
  • Transmission: six-speed automatic, FWD
  • Suspension: MacPherson strut front and torsion bar rear
  • Brake: ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes
  • Steering: electrically assisted mechanical steering
  • Cargo Volume: 625 litres (minimum), 1740L (maximum)

Peugeot has ditched the cheaper 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine from the 308 Touring. The $34,689 (plus orc) Allure THP previously developed 110kW/240Nm and also meant the wagon could be purchased for less – but to our mind buyers were also getting a lesser car.

This 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder fits the 308 Touring to a tee. It makes 110kW of power at 3750rpm and 370Nm of torque at 2000rpm, beyond that of the identically sized Golf diesel’s 110kW/340Nm.

In the 0-100km/h performance and litres-per-100km fuel consumption stakes, Peugeot claims 8.9 seconds and 4.2L/100km; while Volkswagen claims an identical time but 4.7L/100km on the official laboratory-tested combined cycle.

Thank the 1420kg kerb weight of this lithe front-wheel drive wagon. A medium SUV equivalent for size, equipment and performance is the all-wheel drive Mazda CX-5 GT, and it costs $46,390 (plus orc), weighs 1685kg and claims to drink 5.7L/100km.

The 308 Allure Touring HDi feels smooth and punchy in all conditions, ably supported by a fluent and intuitive six-speed automatic.

Flaws are few and minor: sometimes at lower speed on hills the auto can be too keen to quickly grab a lower gear to the detriment of refinement, seemingly forgetting that all torque is available from just 2000rpm; yet its alternative Sport mode is not really assertive enough for enthusiastic driving.

Still, these minor irritations are vastly outweighed by positives that include a manual mode that permits plucking lower gears early (so long as revs don’t fling above 4200rpm); and six ratios within a power band that tops out at 4800rpm means that the engine stays almost always on the boil anyway.

On sweeping country roads that occasionally tighten, the diesel provides a decent but hardly sporty surge on corner exits. Best rely on the amazing grip provided by the (optional) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, which allow the driver to maintain corner speed that could frighten some hot hatchbacks.

The eager, light steering is matched by a keen, light chassis and a masterfully subtle stability control setting that allows both cornering entertainment and inherent active safety standards few comparatively wallowing SUVs can match.

Peugeot happens to have created a torquey, efficient diesel wagon that apes the semi-sporty and dynamically enjoyable hatchback on which it’s based. From past experience, however, the standard 17-inch tyres are much quieter and provide vastly improved ride comfort than these aggressive 18s.

This 308 Allure Touring HDi rides well, being firmly disciplined and never harsh or jiggling. But it definitely isn’t as plush as might be expected of a family wagon, nor as silken as a Golf. And the coarse-chip road noise is deafening.

 

SAFETY

NCAP rating: 5-Stars - the Peugeot 308 range scored 35.82 out of 37 possible points when tested by Euro NCAP in 2014

Safety Features: Dual front, front-side and full-length curtain airbags, ABS and ESC, front and rear parking sensors with automatic park assistance, blind-spot monitor, and pre-collision warning and partial auto-brake

 

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: Three years/100,000km

Servicing: Five-year/75,000km capped price servicing program covers the first five annual/15,000km checks at a much higher-than-average cost of $710 per check-up

 

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

A Tucson, CX-5 and Tiguan lead the medium SUV segment, and the 308 Allure Touring HDi is cheaper, more frugal, more fun to drive and– with the exception of rear legroom – is as roomy and versatile as any of them.

The Golf Highline is simply the small wagon benchmark, being smoother and more thoughtful than this Peugeot; but it is less interesting design-wise.

Meanwhile, for families who need a bit of extra space, the classy and luxurious Mazda6 Touring will be worth the stretch.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

Small wagons may not be as popular as a medium SUV, but this Peugeot 308 Allure Touring HDi proves that more families should consider the breed.

At nearly $40K this single-specification range isn’t cheap and its servicing is downright expensive, but the Allure is now well-equipped both in terms of luxury and safety kit. The boutique design isn’t quite matched by immaculate ergonomics and space, however its flaws arguably aren’t deal breakers.

The boot is huge, the diesel effective and highly efficient, and its dynamic blend is far more impressive than the average – and we do mean average – SUV.

It’s best to pick the standard 17-inch wheels unless the buyer-driver is downgrading from a hot hatchback, but otherwise this Peugeot hasn’t just become a good buy – it’s genuinely good overall.

MORE: Peugeot News and Reviews
VISIT THE SHOWROOM: Peugeot 308 Models - Prices, Features and Specifications

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