What is it?
Peugeot is a name with one of the longest lines of automotive history on the planet.
Along with country mates Renault and Citroen, they have managed to produce some of the most iconic cars ever, and Peugeot themselves have a niche in motorsport.
In a passenger car sense, however, they’re a mere speck on the buying horizon for many in the Australian market.
We recently drove the marvelous 508, for example, with plenty of curious looks from others.
It’s an i30, Mazda3, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla competitor — yet it too is unrecognised.
Our week with the 308 goes some way to explaining why.
What’s it cost?
As of December, the 308 became a two-model offering, with the Allure starting from $30,499 and GT-Line from $34,990.
Straight away it’s got problems on price and breadth of offerings, as Hyundai’s almost top-spec i30 Elite is just over $1,000 cheaper and there are a half dozen more choices.
The Corolla Ascent Sport is priced cheaper than the Allure too.
On its side are typically good looking lines, with a well proportioned and balanced look.
Flanks are pushed out in gentle curves from the upper sheetmetal, a bonnet line joins the bottom of the windows in an uncluttered and unfussed look, and the front end has an evenly proportioned spread of intakes and headlight clusters.
Michelin Pilot Sport rubber at 225/40 wrap stunning 18 inch machined and painted alloys and, at the rear, are the signature triple claw tail lights.
Inside it’s a bit . . . well . . . bland.
There is Peugeot’s signature dash with the instrument binnacle perched higher than the steering wheel, with a pair of analogue dials either side of a small LCD info screen.
A note here: the tachometer or rev counter is on the right, not left side, and unexpectedly spins anti-clockwise.
An unbroken line of plastic sweeps across from either side, bookending with angular air vents and centred on a 7.0 inch touchscreen, itself bracketed by air vents.
The colour is a dark grey, rather than the black we expect to see, matching the muted tones of the cloth, not leather seats.
Underneath the touchscreen is a CD slot, and just a few buttons for the most basic of aircon controls.
The touchscreen is the home for everything else; from audio to climate control to satnav.
It’s reasonably easy to follow, however screen sensitivity means a couple of attempts to register contact.
It’s also AM/FM only, relying on Bluetooth streaming and USB connection for smart phone apps if you want radio options.
Both the Corolla and i30 Elite have DAB as standard, plus the Elite has a smartphone charge pad.
That driver’s info screen isn’t easy to access either, in a small way.
On the end of the wiper stalk, on the right had side of the steering column, is a small push button, that’s the access point for the various data streams.
In Peugeot’s own Partner small van, there are eminently more user friendly steering wheel tabs to use.
The engine is powered up via push button in the console, however it requires more than a second for the computer to register the command.
The parking brake is electric and unlike the Corolla, which disengages when the gear selector is moved, it still requires a press to disengage.
The rear hatch is manually operated, opening to a 435-litre cargo section, with the access button located in the upper section of the number plate recess.
Seats down, there’s 1274 litres.
The spare, incidentally, is a space saver.
The safety package is on par with the competition, with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Forward Collision Warning, and Traffic Sign Recognition.
There is also Blind Spot Alert, reverse camera, and six airbags to complement the main features.
What’s it go like?
It’s a three cylinder engine, not a four, with a capacity of 1.2 litres, and an EAT6 auto with eight ratios.
Peak power is 96kW at 5500 rpm, and a handy turbo-fed 230Nm at 1750Nm.
It’s EURO6 emissions compliant at just 112 grams of CO2 per kilometre, and comes with Stop/Start tech which is a little too eager to make itself known.
Peak economy is best seen on the highway, says Peugeot, where they quote 4.2L/100km.
Tank size is just 53 litres, and we finished with 7.7L/100km on our usual 70/30 urban to highway split.
It’s not as quick as expected off the line, but neither is it slower than it could be with that relatively small donk.
Torque of 230Nm is reasonable, if not neck-snapping, to get the svelte hatch up and running.
Being a three cylinder, there is that off-kilter thrum as the engine winds up and down through the rev range.
Cold mornings, and the drive-train isn’t a fan, exhibiting noticeable hesitancy compared to warmer starts.
The suspension is firm, with some skittishness to the GT-Line as it hops over the road joins seen in some Sydney areas.
But the steering is weighted slightly to the lighter side and makes for an easy control in such conditions.
It’s a matter of physics that turbos need a moment or two to “spool up” or start spinning to provide boost to an engine.
The programing for this car’s engine seems somewhat off, with either too much when it isn’t needed, or taking just . . . too . . . long . . . at an intersections with a car coming towards us — in other cars, we’d be long gone.
Just a little too many heart in mouth moments for genuine feelings of safety.
What we like?
- French model good looks
- Good-sized boot for the size
- Ride and handling is sporting oriented
What we don’t like?
- Needs a lift for the interior
- Turbo laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag
The bottom line?
It’s a case, for us, of could’a should’a for the 308 GT-Line.
It’s on the back foot on a number of levels, and needs a lift in equipment levels, some layout areas, and unfortunately price will be a problem.
Unlike the eyeball grabbing 508, the 308 blends too easily into the background and as a result stands in the shadows . . . quietly and meekly.
CHECKOUT: Peugeot 3008: Eek! What the hell’s that?
CHECKOUT: Peugeot 508 Fastback: Ooh la la!
Peugeot 308 GT-Line, priced from $34,990
- Looks - 8/108/10
- Performance - 7/107/10
- Safety - 8/108/10
- Thirst - 7/107/10
- Practicality - 7.5/107.5/10
- Comfort - 8/108/10
- Tech - 7/107/10
- Value - 7/107/10