ON THE ROAD

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

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.

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