French flair costs more

You need more cash at the Paris end of town, writes JAMES STAN­FORD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test Peugeot 308 Manual Xs Hatch -

FRENCH items al­ways come with a pre­mium. You pay more for per­fume, fash­ion and cham­pagne if they’re French, and it’s the same with cars.

The en­try price of the latest 308 hatch is $25,990, which places it at the pre­mium end of the small­car class along­side the Volk­swa­gen Golf.

Deals have never been bet­ter on small cars. The Ford Fo­cus is be­ing sold for $19,990 drive-away, de­spite be­ing the best-han­dling car in the class.

But it doesn’t quite have that Euro­pean style, or a French badge.

The 308 is a re­fined ma­chine that han­dles well.

It also looks

great, hav­ing a dis­tinc­tive V-shaped smooth, flow­ing lines.

The new sleeker 308 is larger in al­most ev­ery di­men­sion ex­cept height. The roof is 12mm lower than that of its pre­de­ces­sor.

Its weight has in­creased about 80kg, which makes the base model 1362kg — hefty for a small car.

Peu­geot has made the body stiffer and widened the track to give the car a big­ger foot­print, though the wheel­base is the same.

The sus­pen­sion has been re­vised but re­mains largely the same. It has a MacPher­son-strut front and a tor­sion-beam rear.

Cus­tomers can choose from two petrol en­gines and two turbo diesels.

The stan­dard 1.6, which ap­pears

nose

and in the XS and XSE, gen­er­ates 88kW and 160Nm. With a turbo, the en­gine has 110kW and 240Nm in the XSE Turbo man­ual. The auto makes do with 7kW less.

A base 1.6-litre turbo diesel has 80kW and 240Nm in the XS HDi model. Top­ping the range is a 2.0-litre turbo diesel that man­ages 100kW and 320Nm in the 308 XSE and XTE HDi.

Trans­mis­sions in­clude a fivespeed man­ual and an op­tional four­speed au­to­matic for the 1.6-litre petrol cars. The 1.6 diesel is avail­able with a five-speed man­ual only.

The 2.0-litre diesel is avail­able with a six-speed man­ual or a sixspeed au­to­matic.

Fuel econ­omy is a strong point. The base diesel sips only 4.9 litres/ 100km, ac­cord­ing to Peu­geot.

In the man­u­als, petrol use is an av­er­age 6.7. The turbo petrol uses 7.1 and the larger diesel uses 5.5 litres for 100km.

All 308s come with front, side and cur­tain airbags, but the XS and XSE mod­els miss out on elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol. It’s a $450 op­tion.

Stan­dard gear in­cludes dual cli­mate con­trol air­con­di­tion­ing, cruise con­trol, trip com­puter, front elec­tric win­dows (man­ual win­ders for the rear) and MP3 con­nec­tion.

The base model XS has 15-inch steel wheels. A full-size spare is stan­dard.

Prices range from the $25,990 base XS man­ual to the au­to­matic 2.0 XTE HDi at $37,990.

Sleeker look: the new Peu­geot 308 is big­ger in most ar­eas but has a lower profile. Buy­ers can choose from two petrol en­gines and two turbo diesels.

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