Peugeot has 308 reasons to be confident, writes PAUL GOVER
THIS year has been difficult for Peugeot. The French company’s sales are down about 20 per cent at a time when the rest of the car business, until this month, has been doing nicely.
Peugeot puts its troubles down to the transition to the new compact 308. It says the arrival of the Touring wagon, which will be joined by the 308CC before the end of the year, will turn things around.
It also believes its new Expert and Partner vans, which landed at the same time as the Touring, will give it a much-needed boost on the commercial front.
‘‘It’s been a tough year for us. However, I think running out the 307 is well behind us and we can make up lost ground,’’ Peugeot national sales manager Ken Thomas says.
‘‘We’re going to capitalise on the strong reputation we have built in the small-wagon market. It’s an important launch for this brand. It has great styling, technology and unique features,’’ he says.
The 308 Touring is more like an oversized hatchback than a traditional wagon, so in some ways it is similar to the new Holden Commodore Sportwagon. But the Peugeot is uniquely French, from its good looks to an emphasis on the diesel engine, which is expected to attract most buyers.
The objective is to sell more than 1000 wagons before the end of the year, and closer to 1900 next year. Peugeot aims to reach 9000 total sales this year.
The Touring package is priced from $30,590 with a choice of two trim levels, four engines — two diesel, two petrol— and automatic and manual gearboxes with front-wheel drive. The specification is pretty comprehensive, though electronic stability control is only an option on the basic CS model. The Touring is based on the latest 308 mechanical package, which means fully independent suspension, fourwheel disc brakes, six airbags, anti-skid brakes with brake assist and a system that triggers the hazard lights in extreme braking.
The XS opens the action with airconditioning, cruise control, remote central locking and a full-length glass sunroof.
The XSE tips in electronic stability control, rear parking radar, alloy wheels and rainsensing wipers. Leather seats and a multimedia sound system are optional.
The four-cylinder engines are 88kW and 103kW petrol motors, which Peugeot calls VTi and THP for the turbo, and 80kW and 100kW diesels. There is a six-speed manual for all engines, but the automatic is only a four-speed on the petrol engines, six on the diesels.
Peugeot does all its comparisons against the outgoing 307, talking up the increased rigidity of the new body, the bigger boot and more cabin space.
But the bottom line on a wagon is seating and space. The Touring has ‘‘theatre’’ seats in tiered settings to improve visibility and reduce the chance of a child becoming car-sick, though the third-row line-up is called ‘‘occasional’’. There are many storage choices.
‘‘There are seven seats and they are plugand-play. You can move them around into a great many combinations,’’ Peugeot’s Glenn Forester says.
Space patrol: the Peugeot 308 Touring is more like an oversized hatchback than a traditional wagon.