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Car reviews - Peugeot - 308 - XSE HDi Touring

Our Opinion

We like
Exterior styling, interior flexibility, airy and ambient cabin, performance under load, standard panoramic roof
Room for improvement
Lacks driver involvement, fidgety ride, missing some standard features

Peugeot logo7 Nov 2008

PEUGEOT’S family-oriented 308 Touring follows the philosophy of ‘sharing is caring’, where everyone has something to enjoy. Unlike a high-performance car, for example, where the driver is selfishly indulged with much of the grin factor, leaving little for the passengers, the 308 Touring spreads its love equally.

Pitched as an alternative to thirsty SUVs and boxy MPVs, Peugeot’s wagon is big – and clever – from the inside, yet small and maneuverable from the outside.

Boasting many neat touches to excite passengers, the 308 Touring is also guaranteed to please, especially in the range-topping XSE HDi turbo-diesel guise tested here.

The first thing likely to get noticed is the huge panoramic glass roof.

Measuring 1.68 square-metres in area, the fixed (and tinted) glass adds a sense of openness and warmth to the interior by day while presenting a starry spectacle by night. If the sun’s rays become too intense, an electrically-operated blind can take the heat off, as can the manually-retractable sunshades built into the rear doors.

Speaking of heat, while Peugeot Australia opted to fit the panoramic roof as standard across the whole 308 Touring range, the company chose not to fit the potentially life-saving electronic stability control (ESC) to its XS base model. Though available as a $450 option, this is rather poor considering most Touring buyers are families and there are many more affordable marques offering ESC as standard.

Priced from $36,190 (auto: $37,390), the XSE HDi fortunately has no such qualms.

We were deeply impressed by the wagon's interior flexibility and performance, despite a stint carrying five adults in comfort, two large dogs and some luggage.

Thanks to a very capable 2.0-litre direct-injection turbo-diesel engine developing 100kW of power at 4000rpm and a handy 320Nm of torque at 2000rpm, this fully laden outing proved an effortless task for the Pug.

Honorable mentions must also go to the intuitive and smooth-shifting six-speed automatic presented to the driver in an upmarket metallic silver lever and gearshift surround. The transmission also features a sequential manual mode for those who enjoy self-shifting, but we left the job in the capable hands of the auto mode.

With a 150kg handicap over the 308 hatch, the XSE HDi Touring manages a snail's-pace 0-100km/h figure of 13.2 seconds (manual 12.0s), but real-world driving paints a very different picture.

During overtaking manoeuvres, plowing up steep hills or taking off from the traffic lights, the Peugeot’s performance never ceased to impress - and we also averaged a respectable 7.8L/100km of mainly urban driving.

While the interior is quiet and comfortable, marks must unfortunately go against the car’s inability to soak up bumps and other irregularities typical of Australian roads – even with a 100mm-longer wheelbase over the 308 hatch.

Likewise, the electrically-assisted steering, while being accurate, did not offer the feedback we would have liked.

With the additional 150kg, the XSE HDi Touring handles competently, but it is certainly no acrobat around corners.

A somewhat controversial talking point with Peugeots of late is exterior styling. While previous iterations of the brand’s signature design cues - a gaping mouth, upswept headlights and long front overhangs - have never particularly appealed, in the bolder 308 guise the exterior designers have pushed our buttons.

We grew to like the 308’s front-end looks, even though it resembles an awkwardly-smiling teenager trying to adjust to life with new shiny braces. It will be interesting to see whether it stands the test of time – unlike the 307’s various iterations.

Peugeot’s Touring derivatives have always been known for their interior versatility and the 308 continues this tradition.

The second row seats independently slide back and forth, fold up, fasten flat or can be removed altogether for a multitude of seating configurations. Being identical also means they can be conveniently fixed into any second row position.

Our test car had the $1180 third row seating option that can also fold flat or be removed but, like most other seven-seaters, it is a kids-only affair.

To carry extra-long items (up to 3.1 metres), the front passenger seat can be folded flat, too. Better yet, by leaving the middle and third-row seats at home, you can quickly and effectively convert the 308 Touring into a bread van and easily swallow two bikes without removing their front wheels.

With five seats in place, the Touring offers 674 litres of boot capacity (244 litres more than the hatch), extending to 2149 litres with only the front seats in place. This is attributed to the extra 84mm of height and 124mm of rear overhang compared to the hatch.

Peugeot has introduced a new seatbelt detection system - which uses clever wireless technology to display (via a small indicator near the rear view mirror) which passenger does not have their seatbelt fastened, given the removable seats and therefore the inability to install wiring - but it does not work for the third-row seats, where young kids are likely to be.

The 308 Touring has a high-quality fit and finish typical of Peugeot and an interior that feels far more special than Volkswagen’s current Mk V Golf, thanks to the aforementioned interior openness, excellent all-round visibility, reverse parking sensors, silver metallic trim garnishing, comfortable and multi-adjustable front seats and clear instrumentation.

While the standard interior trim is a quality fabric, our full-loaded test car came with plush leather and heated front seats (which are a $2900 option).

Other standard niceties include airline-style fold-out trays with cupholders behind the front seats, magnetic seatbelt holders for the third-row seats and second-row middle passenger (roof-mounted) to eliminate any rattle and sliding drawers under the front seats.

Strangely, Peugeot Australia does not specify the opening rear window in the tailgate that is available overseas.

We also appreciated the cabin deodoriser feature, which is both fragrantly interchangeable and adjustable in its concentration. But, while Peugeot has successfully appealed to our feel-good senses, we can’t ignore the voice of commonsense that asks why safety features like ESC are not standard at base level.

If you are in the market for an SUV but don’t want the negatives that come with them, or perhaps want something that is just a little different and upmarket, Peugeot’s 308 Touring range is worth a look. With the availability of two petrol and two diesel engines, there is a model to suit many buyers – even if it means having to tick a few option boxes.

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