1 Feb 2008
Following on from the tall-boy 307 comes a much more stylish offering from Peugeot called the 308.
It plays it the same segment as the Volkswagen Golf, Citroen C4, Renault Megane and higher-specified versions of the Ford Focus, Holden Astra and Toyota Corolla.
Based on the Peugeot-Citroen 2 platform, the 308 is not breaking any new ground, but promises a more enjoyable drive and more interior space. It also looks whole lot better.
Prices start at $25,990 for the entry level 1.6 model, and run through to $37,990 for the premium 2.0-litre diesel auto model.
Engines include the a regular 1.6 and 1.6 turbo engines, co-developed with BMW as well as 1.6 and 2.0-litre turbo diesels.
The base XS model misses out on electronic stability control, but is otherwise well equipped.
The entry level car fitted with the petrol engine is not about to break any land speed records with a mere 88kW and 160Nm under the bonnet. Figures for the turbocharged 1.6 are a bit better, 110kW and 240Nm, although the power drops to 103kW if you want an automatic.
The 1.6-litre diesel is good for 80kW and 240Nm and the 2.0-litre generates 100kW and 320Nm.
Transmissions include a five-speed manual for both petrol engines, an optional four-speed auto for the turbo 1.6, there is a six-speed manual and optional six-speed automatic for the 1.6-litre diesel, while the 2.0-litre diesel is only available with a six-speed automatic.
In August 2008 the 308 Touring, a stylish alternative to a compact SUV with economical powerplants and seating for seven was launched.
Following on from the 308 hatch, which competes in the small car class, the wagon is available with two petrol engines and two diesels.
The petrol units include a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 88kW and 160Nm and turbo version that generates 103kW and 240Nm.
A 1.6-litre turbo diesel pumps out 80kW and 240Nm and the range-topping 2.0-litre turbo diesel generates 100kW and 320Nm.
Fuel economy is a big advantage of the small Peugeot family hauler with the miserly 1.6-litre diesel using just 5.3 litres per 100km on a combined cycle.
There are two models including the XS and more luxurious XSE.
ESC is not standard on the base model XS.
Peugeot has a comparatively long history with steel-roofed drop-tops, pioneering the trend with the titchy 206 CC around the turn of the millennium.
The 308-derivative shed the French carmakers’ penchant for proportion-deficiency that plagued previous small-cabriolet iterations with its slinky and stylish looks.
Considering the CC’s extra heft over the standard 308 hatch, due to the folding steel roof, the petrol’s claimed fuel consumption of 7.2L/100km for the manual and 7.7L/100km for the auto was very respectable. The diesel sipped a respectable 6.6L/100km.
Unlike many of its popular convertible siblings, scuttle shake was limited to an occasional subtle wobble of the steering column over rough ground, with no hint of windscreen or A-pillar shake when the going got tough.
Standard equipment for both engine variants included six airbags plus electronic traction and stability control, automatic rollover bars, four-wheel discs brakes with ventilated front rotors, an anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), emergency brake assist (EBA).
Along with a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, all models also came with an automatic remote locking glovebox and central storage compartment, rear parking sensors, power-folding door mirrors with LED courtesy lights, MP3 connectivity, an electric-assist rear-seat access function, 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres, LED tail-lights, cloth sports seats, speed-sensitive power steering and a 10.7-metre turning circle.
Both rear-seat passengers got plenty of elbow room (and an armrest apiece) but sat directly beneath the large rear screen. Rear leg and foot room was acceptable too, but not without compromising the front seating position for all but the shortest occupants, while rear passengers more than 180cm tall got limited head space.
Rear passengers got air-conditioning outlets and quick-release front-seat access, but the seats themselves were fairly upright and didn’t come with Peugeot’s Mercedes-mimicking Airwave system, which was a little noisy but was reasonably effective.
The all-electric roof mechanism itself was quick, quiet and, unlike some, could be operated at speeds of up to 12km/h – but not without the engine running.
Peugeot claimed a 20-second open/closing time, we timed it at a still-respectable 22 seconds to open and 24 to close.