A LOT TO LOVE IN NEW PUG

CHIC HATCH WITH ALL THE EX­TRAS

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Bill Buys

THE Euro car mar­ket is a pretty tough place to be in and the one to emerge with the Euro­pean Car of the Year ti­tle is the new Peu­geot 308, a chic hatch with a lot of pre­mium touches and im­pres­sive tech­nol­ogy.

It also claimed the 'most beau­ti­ful in­te­rior' award and comes in three lev­els of trim: Ac­cess, Ac­tive and Al­lure, with the lat­ter also avail­able in wagon form.

Prices start at a com­pet­i­tive $21,990 for the Ac­cess man­ual, with a $2000 pre­mium for the sixspeed auto. The Ac­tive hatch, as re­viewed here, is an auto-only model at $27,340 and then come the Al­lures, from $30,490 to $37,490.

There are two en­gines to choose from, a 2.0-litre diesel or a 1.2-litre. A 1.6-litre is due later this year in the 308 GT.

Our Ac­tive had the lit­tle petrol mo­tor, a ter­rific three- cylin­der turbo that puts out 96kW and 230Nm. That's sim­ply stunning, vir­tu­ally on a par with some re­spected 1.8 and 2.0- litre hot hatches of just a cou­ple of years ago.

It can run to 100km/h in nine sec­onds and to a max of about 210km/h.

What's more, it uses very lit­tle fuel, aided in city traf­fic by the stan­dard Start&Stop fea­ture.

We recorded an av­er­age 6.9litres/100km, mostly in sub­ur­bia, but bet­ter than 5.0litres/100 can be achieved on the open road.

The driver gets a fu­tur­is­tic ' iCock­pit' fea­tur­ing a small leather­bound and flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheel and a bin­na­cle hous­ing twin di­als; speedo to the left and the re­verse-ro­tat­ing rev counter to the right.

A cen­tre screen houses a large colour touch­screen, which con­trols the dual-zone air­con and a va­ri­ety of other func­tions, but miss­ing from ours was a re­vers­ing cam­era and Sat­Nav.

For those, you need to move up to the Al­lure, and the cam­era is only in the Al­lure Tour­ing (wagon). Sacre bleu!

Also, we dis­cov­ered that 'elec­tronic park­ing as­sis­tance' in Pugs­peak does not mean a self-park­ing sys­tem, but merely tres or­di­naire park­ing sen­sors.

The front seats are ex­cel­lent, the back ones pretty good, too, and they can be folded so the cargo space can be ex­panded from a use­ful 435litres to a gi­gan­tic 1274.

Other good bits in­clude LED day­time run­ning lights, 16-inch al­loys, air­con in the glove­box, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing, auto-on lights and wipers and the whole bouil­l­abaisse of safety gear.

The hand­some car sits lower than the pre­vi­ous model and use of an ad­vanced new plat­form has made it lighter (by 140kg) and bet- ter han­dling.

Pugs have al­ways been known for their bon han­dling qual­i­ties, but this one is ex­cep­tional.

It gives a won­der­fully comfy, com­posed ride, and we loved how the mighty mouse en­gine de­liv­ered per­for­mance with­out slurp­ing much essence (we got 6.8litres/100km around sub­ur­bia) and the car's out­stand­ing on-road dy­nam­ics.

It's beau­ti­fully built, has most of the bells and whis­tles in the Ac­tive and we were sorry to say au revoir af­ter our few days in it.

But we sure did miss a re­vers­ing cam­era, one that should be stan­dard in a car of this cal­i­bre.

There's a lot of amour in the 308. Keen driv­ers will be se­ri­ously smit­ten.

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