TOURING DE FRANCE
PEUGEOT’S 3008 and 5008 SUVs are spearheading the French brand’s bid to re-establish itself as a player in Australia after a decade or so of decline and decay, caused by a lack of commitment from management, sporadic new product, overambitious pricing and that endemic French malaise: a well-earned reputation for unreliability.
It’s a shame the brand still carries reliability baggage, because Peugeot, when inspired, is capable of very good things.
Such as the 308 Touring we’re testing today. And, please, I know it’s not an SUV but don’t stop reading. This is just as good as, if not better than, a family wagon.
Peugeot’s answer to the VW Golf, the 308 has been lauded as the French maker’s best small car since the 306 of the mid-1990s.
It’s had a few updates since launching in 2014, most recently late last year, when it picked up a suite of driver assist safety tech from the 3008, upgraded touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity and mirroring, a new shift by wire six-speed automatic, handsfree parking and the usual facelift/new rear lights treatment.
Priced at $37,990, the Allure Touring is the sole wagon in the 308 range. It runs a 2.0-litre turbo diesel with a relatively humble 110kW of power and a solid 370Nm of torque, driving the front wheels.
Standard equipment also includes onetouch windows all around, dual-zone aircon (plus a small chilled glovebox), leather wrapped steering wheel, cloth/Alcantara upholstery, manual seat adjustment, 17inch alloys and manual tailgate.
The driving position is unique. Analog dials are on top of the dash, so to see them properly you must have the steering wheel set low and the seat set high.
The cute, petite steering wheel does feel sorta-kinda sporty, but the rest of the car isn’t. Comfortable and supportive on long drives, the driver’s seat has ample adjustability. It’s tight in the back seat and though the high, firm bench is well suited to kids, they won’t appreciate the absence of air vents and 12V/USB outlets.
Boot space is more generous than the 3008 SUV, with a whopping (for its size) 625L in five-seater mode and up to 1740L with the back seats folded, which also extends the boot floor to 1.8m.
The ride, on optional 18-inch wheels with 225/40 Michelins, is much firmer than the SUV, especially around town. On rough country roads, it's more compliant, though lacking the suppleness that once characterised Peugeots.
Peugeot’s 2.0-litre turbo diesel packs considerably less wallop here than in the 3008 SUV (133kW/400Nm) and the 0100km/h trip takes a leisurely 10 seconds.
However, it's a sweet engine, with that characteristic oiler tractability and strong overtaking performance.
Peugeot diesels are renowned for astonishing fuel economy. You can easily do mid-to-high fours on a highway cruise, which will give you more than 1000km from the 53L tank, while 7.0L-8.5L/100km around town, assisted by automatic stopstart, is hardly hoovering it down, either.
Verdict: Yet more proof that SUVs are not the only answer to the family wagon question. In most respects this is just as good as, if not better than, the 3008 GT, plus it's got a bigger boot and costs $11,500 less.
Peugeot’s 308 Allure Touring.