Car reviews - Peugeot - 308 - Touring
Excellent fuel efficiency, enormous boot volume, stylish dashboard, impressive active safety equipment, quick and smooth steering, nice ride quality
Room for improvement
Lacks storage space and infotainment nous, average rear legroom, needs more punch and greater equipment for the price
Now top-spec-only with a diesel, is there an Allure to the Peugeot 308 Touring?
23 Nov 2018
THIS could come from a naval-gazing think-tank deep inside the bowels of an advertising agency, but the buyer of a Peugeot 308 Touring Allure is perhaps purchasing an image as well as a new car.
Okay, a buyer’s character is often represented in cars. Purchase an electric vehicle (EV) and you are probably a green thumb; snag a Mercedes-AMG A45 and you likely enjoy holding first gear all the way along a shopping strip. But with something like the 308 Touring Allure it runs deeper than that.
Not only is someone rejecting the SUV craze with a similarly priced small wagon option, but one that is made in France and utilises a turbo-diesel engine only. A family loaded-up for a cross-Europe blast in this type of vehicle is borderline iconic, like a Continental version of the Griswolds.
With this facelifted model, though, can the 308 Touring Allure translate such a whimsical image from the French Alps to Australian suburbs? And does it make complete sense for nearly $40K?
Price and equipment
Several model grades have been axed from the 308 line-up, in the case of the wagon leaving only this Touring Allure priced from $37,990 plus on-road costs. That is $6000 above the Allure five-door hatch with which it shares its equipment, owing to the addition of this wagon body, and also swapping a 1.2-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder for this 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder.
Even so, equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic on/off wipers and LED headlights, keyless auto-entry with push-button start, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel, part-leather/Alcantara trim, plus a 9.7-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation and, for the first time, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone connectivity.
Other newfound technology also abounds, with auto up/down high-beam, a blind-spot monitor, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assistance and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) all advancing over the pre-facelift generation that launched locally in 2014.
Leather seats with front heating is a $2500 package option, however, while a panoramic glass roof asks $1000 extra. Meanwhile an electric tailgate, digital radio, electrically adjustable front seats and adaptive cruise control are all still disappointingly unavailable, despite a now-$40,590 pricetag.
Up-front space and vision is excellent, although the fabulously small steering wheel must be set low to avoid obscuring the high-set speedometer and tachometer cluster, which will not suit all drivers; while fine for this 178cm-tall tester, the loftier will feel as though the wheel is in their lap. And while Peugeot’s infotainment system is quicker to process inputs than before, the touchscreen still appears too low in resolution and it can be finicky. Cheerfully, CarPlay now saves the day.
There is also a distinct lack of storage space, including just one cupholder positioned inside a small centre console that hardly supports the equally tiny glovebox. At least back-seat passengers get twin cupholders in their fold-down armrest, but the bench itself is average, legroom is crimped even by small car standards and every 308 misses out on the rear air vents of all Volkswagen Golf wagons.
However, the best bit of this French small car lies right out back. The Touring’s 625-litre boot trumps the 605L volume of its aforementioned German competitor, complete with a low loading lip, a broad and square luggage area, adjustable cargo tie-down hooks and a ski port complementing the 60:40 split-fold backrest. It is superbly packaged, embarrassing most larger, inefficient SUVs.
Engine and transmission
Turbocharged petrol-engine technology has come such a long way that turbo-diesels are now under greater pressure than ever to perform. The 308’s 1.2-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder makes 96kW of power and 230Nm of torque in hatch form claiming a 9.6-second 0-100km/h and slurping just 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres in combined-cycle tests. Yet this 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder delivers 110kW at 3750rpm and 370Nm at 2000rpm, claiming a 10.0s 0-100km/h and 4.6L/100km.
In short, the $6000 premium over the five-door hatch is not buying an enormous increase in fuel efficiency these days, while proving slower as well. Peugeot’s diesel is reasonably refined and decently responsive, with the six-speed automatic proving utterly outstanding in terms of both fluency and intuition, but it ultimately lacks the outright urge expected of a $35K-plus engine.
The turbo-petrol engine is sweeter in the hatch, and would indeed make a better fit for what would be a circa-$35K pricetag. On the other hand, though, fuel consumption proved superb. Although the combined-cycle claim was not in reach, 7.2L/100km was still excellent for an urban-biased route.
In the real world, a harder-working petrol with less torque might not match it.
Ride and handling
Even rolling on $990-optional 18-inch alloy wheels, the 308 Touring Allure delivers mostly plush ride quality teamed with light-and-easy steering that guides an impressively keen chassis. Indeed the lower-profile Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres provide lots of grip through tight bends, though with a relatively light 1400kg kerb weight and not that much power, they are hardly troubled.
What this Peugeot cannot match is the sophistication and refinement of a Golf wagon, nor the ultimate sportiness of a $39,990 Renault Megane GT wagon, for example. It in some ways treads a warm middle ground between comfort and sportiness, yet it truly excels at neither.
For this pricetag, coarse-chip road noise should be lower and rough-road body control slightly tighter, with the 308 occasionally bouncing and heaving occupants over lumpy bitumen that even SUVs such as the Mazda CX-5 manage to tame.
Thankfully, only right on the outer edges of suspension and chassis ability does the Touring Allure start to fray, and even then only slightly. For the most part it is an enjoyable, nimble small car.
Safety and servicing
Six airbags (including dual-front, front-side and curtain), ABS, electronic stability control (ESC), front and rear parking sensors with rearview camera, blind-spot monitor, and lane-departure warning with lane-keep assistance, and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) are all standard.
The Peugeot 308 achieved five stars and scored 35.82 out of 37 points when tested by Euro NCAP in 2014.
Annual or 20,000km intervals, at a reasonable capped-price $3150 to five years or 75,000km.
On paper the 308 Touring Allure makes perfectly practical and pragmatic sense. Combining a big boot with a highly efficient engine and new active safety technology, plus a five-year warranty for under $40K, makes for a fine family car. Thankfully, on the road it drives rather nicely as well.
Where this Peugeot falls down somewhat is with its pricing. At almost $40K a small wagon should include leather trim, heated seats, a sunroof, active cruise control and an electric tailgate.
The 308’s diesel should provide greater punch, no just extra thrift, while the lack of rear legroom, missing rear air-vents and a shortage of storage spaces detract from the plush dashboard, nice front seating and enormous boot.
So although in most ways the Peugeot 308 Touring Allure nails its character as a classic Continental cruiser, the exchange rate it asks certainly feels a bit foreign here.
Renault Megane GT from $39,990 plus on-road costs
A great drive, nice design and great value, teamed with superb 1.6-litre turbo-petrol performance.
Volkswagen Golf 110TSI Highline Wagon from $37,490 plus on-road costs
The sophisticated class benchmark for good reason, and the petrol is now the only offering after VW ditched the diesel.
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