PEUGEOT 308 GT
The $2500 premium over the Renault is balanced by extra features, including automated parking. Add $950 if you want any colour other than white. As with the Megane, the 308 GT persists with having controls mounted behind the scaled-down steering wheel where they have to be operated from memory. The Pug has three year/100,000km warranty and capped price servicing will average $495 annually over five years.
Outright power doesn’t always win the day. The Peugeot’s turbo 1.6-litre (151kW/285Nm) is well down on its rival … but so is weight at 1200kg, giving the Pug a 0.1-second edge in the 100km/h time. It works hard to deliver that, nudging fuel use to 7.4L/100km.
The Pug has the classier interior, largely as it’s newer. The 9.7-inch touchscreen controls all functions from radio to aircon. The result is a stylish look with quality chrome trim and a marked absence of buttons. The small steering wheel needs to be adjusted to see the “head-up” display, particularly the digital speedo. The tacho spins anticlockwise, an argument the designers shouldn’t have won. There’s reasonable rear space and boot is 435L.
ANCAP rated the diesel at 35.82/37 — the lighter petrol engine should perform at least as well. Standard driver’s assistance package adds adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and emergency braking.
Fast but not furious, the 308GT tends to be slightly more composed on the limit than its fellow French rival. Its lower mass helps here, keeping the GT’s front end adhering to the road and the steered line as the power is pressed on to liven things up. It is a more benign beast and lacks some of the Renault’s adrenalineinducing raw edge but for those looking for a grand tourer — as distinct from a performance hatch — it is a marginally better proposition than the Megane purely because it is more predictable.
VERDICT Peugeot balances luxury and performance just that little bit better than the Renault. Whether that incremental improvement is worth $2500 is in the beholder’s eye
but the better laid-out interior gives it the edge in this contest