Car reviews - Peugeot - 308 - Touring 5-dr wagon range
Fantastic practicality, good fuel consumption of most engines, useable seven-seat option, glass roof
Room for improvement
ESC not standard, harsh ride on uneven surfaces, steering rack rattle, sluggish performance of most engines
18 Aug 2008
THE 308 Touring is a sensible alternative to compact SUVs and the option of two extra seats is a big plus.
It is an attractive package for families to use as daily transport that could reduce fuel bills.
Some buyers will also appreciate that it has the cachet of a French brand rather than something more common.
But the 308 Touring is by no means perfect, with issues regarding the ride and handling on bumpy roads and 150kg of extra weight contributing to a drive experience that falls short when compared to the excellent 308 hatch.
That said, it is still worthy of a look, although customers of the base model should tick the box and pay the extra $450 for electronic stability control.
It's surprising that Peugeot, which is not a bargain brand by any means, refuses to include this potentially life saving technology as standard for the 308 hatch and Touring, when some cars around $10,000 cheaper have it. After all, 70 per cent of 308 Touring customers are expected to be used by families.
What is even more surprising is that Peugeot Australia decided to spend money to fit glass panoramic roofs to all 308 Touring models including the base cars. This feature is not standard in most markets and would have added a fair cost on each vehicle.
It's good that all 308 Touring models have six airbags as standard, but ESC could just help prevent any airbag having to be deployed.
The ESC issue aside, the 308 Touring is fairly well-specified. Things like dual-zone climate control, cruise control and heated mirrors are all very good. The glass panoramic roof is also a nice touch that gives the car a point of difference.
It's a bit strange that the base model gets 15-inch steel wheels and is likely that most people will pay an extra $900 for optional 16-inch alloys.
The best thing about the 308 Touring is its inherent practicality. It will take you a little while to work out all the different positions that you can arrange the seats in as there are so many options. The more options the better.
The second row seats are all individual, so if you wanted you could take out the middle one to give your two kids some space. If you decided to pay the extra for the third row, you could even take out the middle row and put one or two kids way up the back.
This is perhaps a good option for particularly noisy ones.
It is handy being able to fold flat all the passenger seats, but even better is the fact that you can take the second and third rows out all together.
This opens up such a large cargo space that could be very useful.
The second row seats are quite comfortable and there is a lot of headroom and legroom.
As for the third row, it is not so bad. It is an adult-free zone, but pre-teens should be able to fit quite happily back there.
The driving experience at the launch was disappointing as the 308 Touring is not as comfortable as the 308 hatch and seems harsher than the 307 Touring it replaces.
My memories of the last Touring was that is was a car with quite compliant suspension, verging on soft, that loped along over bumpy country roads with ease. It was a nice thing and something I would have happily driven daily. The 308 hatch also has the same traits.
The 308 Touring has lost this compliance and picks up the bumps and small ruts and sends them on through the cabin.
A test drive on roads near Sunbury in Victoria revealed the ride is compromised and passengers will likely be rattled by less than perfect country roads.
The test cars all ran the 16-inch alloy wheels, so perhaps the base model and its 15s will be better.
Mid corner bumps not only seem to upset the suspension, but send rattles through the steering rack.
Peugeot left its naturally-aspirated 1.6 petrol and 1.6 diesel engines at home, bringing only the more potent and more expensive models to the launch.
The base 1.6 petrol 308 hatch, which we have driven previously, gets along well enough but with the extra 150kg of the Touring, it is likely to feel fairly sluggish as is the small diesel.
The turbo 1.6-litre automatic certainly felt like it was working its hardest to propel the porky 308 Touring.
It might be adequate for most situations, but we imagine it might have real trouble loaded to the roof with seven aboard.
The engine is lovely and smooth and a pleasure to rev out. The car on the launch made a strange noise when the engine came close to the red-line, but this vibration was not present on other models. The same car made a terrible low speed rattle, which Peugeot later put down to an incorrectly installed towbar.
The four-speed automatic is not a great gearbox. It can be slow to decide which gear to choose. Another cog would be handy to reduce its cruising revs as currently the engine sits at 2600rpm on the highway.
The 2.0-litre diesel is a far better option all-round, if you can afford it.
With six gears it sits at around 2000rpm when cruising at 100km/h.
It has to work harder than it does in the 308 hatch, but its healthy torque supply down low in the rev range is well to suited to lugging the heavier wagon.
The six-speed automatic is also a nice transmission and is well tuned to the engine.
Peugeot has done a lot of work reducing cabin noise and the 308 Touring is a relatively quiet vehicle to ride in.
One test car had window-mounted wind deflectors and roof racks which creates lots of wind-noise, but another model without these add-ons was serene inside.
The interior design is a highlight and the dashboard and doors appear well laid out with quality surfaces that look well screwed together.
The 308 Touring is a very impressive vehicle in many ways and a let-down in others.
It's worth checking out, but just make sure your test drive covers roads you are likely to use most especially if you are traversing poorly maintained surfaces.
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