Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Bill Buys

NOT for noth­ing is Peu­geot's 308 reign­ing as Euro Car of the Year.

The hand­some French hatch, avail­able with 1.2 litre three-cylin­der and 1.6 litre four-cylin­der petrol or 2.0-litre diesel en­gines, is a lot more than a pretty face.

The lat­est 308 is all-new: plat­form, sus­pen­sion, en­gine, in­te­rior, the works, and it's a de­light.

Our steed was the 1.6 litre Al­lure, the mid-spec model in the range, and priced from $32,790. The 1.2 model is about $4500 less and the Al­lure Pre­mium $3650 more. There's also a smart wagon, called Tour­ing for $2700 ex­tra.

The 1.6 puts out 110kW and 240Nm to its 17-inch front wheels via a smooth six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and of­fi­cial fuel consumption is a pretty im­pres­sive 6.5litres/100km.

The cabin is very well pre­sented, with a clean, busi­nesslike dash, clear in­stru­men­ta­tion, a big touch­screen and ex­cel­lent seat­ing.

The small oval steer­ing wheel sits nice and low, and there's am­ple leg and head­room fore and aft, with a de­cent-sized boot, which can be ex­panded from a use­ful 435 litres to a gi­gan­tic 1274.

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

The new en­gine is happy to rev and the slick auto trans­mis­sion seems to have ex­actly the right ra­tios for quick, con­fi­dent pas­sage. The auto-shifter can be flicked left for tip­tronic man­ual use, but there are no steer­ing­wheel pad­dles.

Han­dling has al­ways been a Peu­geot strong point and the 308 is no ex­cep­tion. It gives a won­der­fully comfy, com­posed ride with out­stand­ing on-road dy­nam­ics.

The car sits lower than the pre­vi­ous model and use of an ad­vanced new plat­form has made it lighter (by 140kg) and more ef­fi­cient.

But tak­ing a tad of gloss off the car was the ab­sence of a re­vers­ing cam­era. Th­ese days it's stan­dard on cars half the Pug's price.

Ver­dict: There's a lot to love in the 308.

The new 308 is Euro Car of the Year for good rea­son.

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