Even a stubborn car company executive would admit the 2017 Peugeot 308 Allure is the hatchback the French brand should have launched with three years ago.
Wiped from the Allure is the decade-old 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, replaced by a newer 1.2-litre turbo three-cylinder previously reserved for the entry-level model. The trouble was, the triple is more impressive than the old four.
Peugeot has retained the $32,990 plus on-road costs pricetag of the outgoing Allure, but it has also added a reverse-view camera, blind-spot monitor, active cruise control, pre-collision warning with partial autonomous braking, keyless auto-entry and leather/Alcantara seat trim.
It results in a better-equipped, more intelligently powered small Peugeot ready to take it to the Volkswagen Golf.
Vehicle Style: Small hatchback
Price: $32,990 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 96kW/230Nm 1.2 turbo petrol three-cylinder | six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 5.1 l/100km | Tested: 8.2 l/100km
If buyers need to stay below $30K in the 308 range, it’s worth noting that Peugeot has added a reverse-view camera and satellite navigation to the standard equipment list of the $27,990 (plus orc) Active that opens the range.
It now equals the $28,340 (plus orc) Golf 92TSI Comfortline in terms of standard kit. The 1.2-litre turbo three-cylinder and its 96kW of power and 230Nm of torque also eclipses the Volkswagen’s 92kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbo four cylinder.
That German rival raises the stakes with its $33,340 (plus orc) Golf 110TSI Highline, which also raises outputs to 110kW/250Nm. This as-tested 308 Allure falls just behind, then, although it is $350 cheaper than that foe.
The Allure also gets blind-spot monitor, automatic reverse-park assistance, adaptive cruise control and panoramic glass roof over the 110TSI Highline, which can only counter with the exclusive additions of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology and heated front seats.
- 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, 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: None
Peugeot punches above its weight in terms of cabin quality these days. The dashboard of the 308 Allure has barely aged, with its minimalist centre stack design surrounded by lushly textured plastics and subtle brushed-aluminium-look trim.
The French brand hasn’t forgotten that it hails from the land of the fashionable, either. Where the Golf could be accused of being a premium version of a Corolla inside, due to its conservative design, the same finger can’t be pointed at the 308.
Its leather/Alcantara front seats are snug and beautifully trimmed, and the tiny leather-clas steering wheel is a delight to hold. That said, taller drivers may find the wheel needs to be dropped low in order to keep view of the high-set instruments.
It is all a bit ergonomically messy, too.
The trip computer functions are controlled by a single button on the end of the indicator stalk, the cruise controls operate from a hidden control fob behind the steering wheel, while the wheel-mounted audio buttons don’t illuminate at night.
Not only does the 308 lack door-mounted bottle holders, but it only has a single front cupholder positioned awkwardly inside the centre console storage box. The dash also pushes the dual-zone climate controls onto the touchscreen, which takes ages to load before the air-con can be blasted. Vital seconds, that is, on a hot day.
Functions for the navigation and media within the touchscreen can be unintuitive, although the graphics are also suitably high-end to complement its semi-premium surrounds. It’s also an ambience supported by extensive equipment that together are too wholly convincing to ignore for a sub-$35,000 pricetag.
The 435-litre boot is also among the largest in its class – eclipsing the 380-litre Golf – and the rear bench and backrest are very comfortable while headroom is decent. Only legroom is slightly lacking and an absence of air-vents is disappointing.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 96kW/230Nm 1.2 3cyl turbo petrol
- 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: 435 litres (minimum), 1274L (maximum)
Where the 308 Allure mixes a semi-premium atmosphere with impressive comfort inside, similar traits ring true on the road. This Peugeot is fun yet soothing, brisk in terms of performance yet decently economical.
Swapping out the 1.6-litre turbo four and installing a 1.2-litre turbo triple wipes 105kg off the total kerb weight, which is now a benchmark 1150kg. The Golf is 1265kg.
There is an ever-present feeling of lightness and agility when driving the 308 Allure. The engine’s peak 230Nm is delivered at 1750rpm, where the heavier and older 1.6-litre’s 240Nm was made at 1400rpm. The 1.2-litre’s 96kW comes in at 5500rpm where the superseded motor’s 110kW was produced at 6000rpm.
There really is nothing in it.
In an era where Volkswagen’s DSG automatic suffers from shunty low-speed characteristics and questionable long-term reliability, the Peugeot’s Japanese-built Aisin six-speed automatic transmission provides sharp relief in both cases.
Being used in Mazda and Toyota models, it should last, however its finest asset is its intuitive and fluent shift strategy. The engine and auto are perfect partners, mixing refinement and enthusiasm in equal measure depending on the driver’s mood.
Peugeot officially claims 0-100km/h in 9.6 seconds, but this feels pessimistic.
With brilliantly quick steering, wonderfully sharp front-end response and decent grip from the 17-inch GoodYear tyres, the Allure’s handling is also among the most fluent and enjoyable in the segment.
Superglue-sticky 18-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres are optional, too, just for the driver who wants to have a glimpse of the ability delivered by the pricier GTi.
The 308 is more fun than a Golf, but it isn’t as finessed. Its ride comfort is excellent across most surfaces, but really rough bitumen ruffles the chassis’ composure and exposes some road noise issues. Otherwise, though, it is comfortable and quiet.
And although the three-cylinder couldn’t come close to its ultra-low fuel consumption claim, an on-test 8.2 litres per 100 kilometres is still impressive given the performance on tap.
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 higher-than-average $587 per check-up.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Naturally, the Golf 110TSI Highline is the big one, but the Peugeot is perhaps closer to the new Astra RS-V and the stalwart Mazda3 SP25 GT in terms of fun outweighing finesse. There is also fellow French foe the Megane GT-Line to contend with, although it is the least impressive of the quartet of rivals below.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Peugeot’s updated 308 Allure is more convincing than ever before and therefore easier to recommend than its previous incarnation had been.
Ergonomic issues only slightly get in the way of what is otherwise an outstanding car. The Peugeot isn’t as generous in its rear accommodation and doesn’t feel as plush in its suspension as its German arch rival, although it counters by being more fun.
The superb new powertrain certainly now better complements the high-end design and a handling package that provides gobfuls of Sunburst flavour, while the standard equipment list is now more competitive than before.
Indeed, this may be the first French car to be more handsomely equipped than an equivalent Volkswagen for a lower price. Just call it the icing on the croquembouche.
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