Thursday, 6 March 2014

REVIEW - Peugeot 308 Allure

Now you may have seen the advert for the new Peugeot 308 on television. I have, and I was amazed at just how much better looking it is than the old one. It was the looks that will have previously put some people off buying a 308, whereas now it may even tempt people into buying one. With a range of engines available, and a focus on quality, the 308 really could be a hidden gem in the family hatchback market. I decided I should do my best to find out, and opted for an engine which also had promise. I was rather excited as I was handed the keys to my new 308…

Looks - 10/10

The biggest leap forward with Peugeot in the last couple of years has come in the style department. Looking at the new 308 you could easily be looking at the newest Golf. Except I think the 308 looks better than the new Golf. It has some really striking lines- in particular the line on the boot is razor sharp- and this gives a really dynamic appearance. But then it also looks very classy; it’s crisp and well proportioned. There are some jazzy daytime running lights at the front, LED head and tail lights and the panoramic roof featured on my Allure (well worth the £370 extra cost) really rounds the looks off. The allure gets 17-inch alloys too which fill the arches nicely and are a two-tone design.

On the inside Peugeot has gone down a route I have never seen before. The centre console is very minimalist, such that it contains only six buttons. Everything- from vehicle settings, the fan blowers, satellite navigation, audio and telephone- is controlled via the 9.7-inch colour touch screen which is nicely incorporated into the dashboard. I really like the minimalist feel, and having such a large screen makes the interior feel premium. But the biggest thing that impressed me about the 308 was the seats. Just look at them. That’s exactly what a good car should have; some comfortable, body-hugging seats. And they look as sleek and classy as the exterior too. The 308 gets one of Peugeot’s smaller steering wheels, and the smart-looking cluster of dials above.

Handling/Performance - 10/10

The engine in my test car is one that I’ve been waiting to test for a while. It’s Peugeot’s 1.6-litre THP petrol engine. In this model the turbocharged unit gets 156PS and 240Nm of torque. That’s more than enough, and results in some decent performance; 0-62mph takes 8.4 seconds and the top speed is 132mph. I think that was more than enough performance for the Allure, but rumour has is that a 250PS GTi may be making an appearance sometime in the future. The 6-speed box is a dream, and it even has a long sixth gear to make motorway cruising effortless. Power delivery is smooth, and there is plenty of go available from low revs. The 1.6-litre unit isn’t a harsh-revving engine either, and doesn’t mind being taken up into to the redline. In fact, when doing this it feels more like a French hatchback should do; zipping round town at 5,000rpm.

And zipping around is another thing the 308 does well. The suspension setup was brilliant; the perfect balance of comfort and firm sportiness. The small steering wheel is nicely weighted, and allows for a sharper change of direction. And there are impressive levels of grip on offer in the 308 too. Again the seats show themselves as a positive feature, because they offer a good level of lateral support (which is one of my biggest bugbears if a car doesn’t) so that you’re not falling out of the window every time you attack a corner. I drove the 308 quite a lot, and racked up a fair few miles. This included B-road blasts and (extremely) long motorway cruises. And what I learned in my time spent roaming the country is just how well rounded the 308 was to drive. It was smooth, quiet and comfortable on the motorway, but could also pick its heels up and dart round the country roads too. Very impressive indeed.

Economy - 9/10

And where the 1.6-litre engine also succeeds is being rather economical as well. With the 17-inch alloys found on the Allure, CO2 emissions are 134g/km putting the THP in VED band E which means £125 for the year. Considering this is a decent performing petrol engine that’s not bad at all. And on a combined cycle the 308 will return 48.7mpg, which is rather good too. But how’s this for economical… Peugeot are expected to release a 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel engine which will have 120PS. But it is expected to emit just 82 g/km and return 88.3mpg on a combined cycle. I’ll do my best to get hold of one when they arrive, so keep an eye out for that.

Practicality - 9/10

Being a mid-sized family hatch back, the 308 is vastly practical. The boot, for instance, is very generous, as is the legroom for the cabin. There’s the whole information media system, which includes iPod connectivity, bluetooth hands-free telephone, satellite navigation and a reversing camera. All of this helps you to stay connected and ensure any journey can pass without trouble. Having said that, I’m not 100% sold on the idea of the heater controls being part of this touch screen. It doesn’t seem as intuitive, and I often found it took more of my attention to adjust anything on this. I understand Peugeot’s logic here, because with the modern dual-zone climate system there are a whole host of buttons, but without spending longer with it I don’t know if it would grow easier in time. My car also had the optional Driver Assistance Pack (£450), which consists of Dynamic Cruise control- and is worth the price for that alone- and the Emergency Collision Alert & Braking System. The dynamic cruise uses radar to adjust the speed according to the car in front, so that you aren’t constantly cancelling and resetting it, and really makes a difference over a longer drive.

Fun - 10/10

Now in case it hasn’t become apparent from Peugeot’s upbeat television adverts, they’re aiming for cars that are as fun as they are quality. And I can honestly say I agree with them wholeheartedly. I had a rather tough week that week, with some difficult long drives, and wet, windy, cold conditions that would usually render me incredibly miserable. But I rather enjoyed the drives, and always found the 308 a brilliant place to come back to. The touchscreen system is very 21st century, and the styling is brilliant. Everyone who I showed the 308 to was impressed, and it was definitely turning heads wherever I drove it. And that always puts a smile on your face.

Concluding Remarks

So how can I sum up the 308 Allure. Well, I’d have one, put it that way. And if you’re in the market for a family hatchback, I would urge you to think twice before going straight to a VW dealership for a Golf. And when I tell you how much this high-spec, brilliant 308 is you might be more tempted. Because even with all the panoramic roof (£370), Driver Assistance Pack (£450) and metallic paint (£525), the price is £21,090 which I would consider excellent value. So why not head down to your local dealership, or visit the Peugeot website for more information. The new Peugeot 308- proof that you can have both style and substance.

Total Score - 48/50

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