ON THE ROAD
THE most affordable 308 was missing from the national launch in February. With non-turbo 1.6-litre cars available on that day, I asked for one to test. To be honest, I expected it to be a dog.
A week in the XS model has shown the 1.6-litre engine won’t be setting any landspeed records, but it’s not an absolute sop.
It does need to be revved and sometimes labours under the car’s 1362kg bulk, but it’s a sweet engine and can work hard without causing a fuss. Rivals have more punch, but their engines are not as smooth.
The manual that was tested was adequate, but I suspect engine performance would be blunted by an automatic version.
Fuel economy was a positive. It used an average of 6.5 litres/100km, but it does demand premium fuel (95 RON).
The 1.6-litre turbo-petrol and 2.0-litre diesel are great engines, but at $30,590 and $33,590 respectively they are expensive.
The base model is $25,990, and you have to pay extra for electronic stability control.
It’s a good car in its own right, but would not be able to demand that price had it a Ford, Holden, Toyota, Mazda or Nissan badge.
The 308 handles well, even with small steel wheels, and the ride is pleasantly compliant.
It is also quiet. First impressions suggest it is the quietest car in that class, with engineers isolating road and tyre noise. The engine is also quiet in most conditions, though it does buzz along at close to 3000 revs at 100km/h.
Peugeot has spent a lot of time and money on the interior and the XS did not feel like a base car. It’s not perfect — the chilled glovebox is tiny (it only just accommodates one drink can) and the cupholders are too close to the gear lever.
Standard cruise control is welcome and dual-zone climate control is a nice touch. There is good leg and head room front and rear and the seats are quite comfortable.
The 308s boot is reasonable, though smaller than that of its predecessor and main rivals. That said, fitting a full-size spare, which sits beneath the cargo floor, is a good move.
THE BOTTOM LINE
QUIET, spacious and stylish with an adequate engine, but it all comes at a price.