Peugeot's 308 has been a critical hit in Europe and Australia, garnering big scores against some very stiff competition. As ever, the car has to fight against the onslaught of SUVs for the family car space on the driveway, the wagon doubly so.
Almost despite the SUV challenge, a number of big carmakers have made a wagon version of their small hatchbacks available with Peugeot being no exception. Since its 2014 release, the French company has added this Touring version of the 308 to its line-up to build on the well-deserved success of the hatch.
The 308 Touring range has four variants across two spec levels. The Allure auto petrol starts at $34,689, traversing Allure diesel and Allure premium petrol to arrive at $40,622 for the Allure Premium diesel.
Our car was the last-but-one Allure Premium petrol, weighing in at $38,393. Unfortunately, unless you want basic white, you'll be paying at least $990 more for metallic or $1700 for pearl white.
Inside is roomy and comfortable, with special mention for the brilliant front seats
You do get handsome 18-inch alloys, a six-speaker stereo with USB and Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, leather (some real, some not) and Alcantara trim, reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, active cruise control, power front seats with massage function, full glass roof, sat-nav, LED headlamps, auto wipers and headlights, cargo blind, auto-parking, power everything, roof rails and dark glass.
Aside from the aforementioned paint options, there's a full Nappa leather interior for $2500.
Peugeot's abandonment of bulbous, carbuncled cars has done it the world of good. While the 308 hatch is a bit too Golf-ey, the wagon is much more its own car. It looks a heck of a lot longer than it really is (4.6 metres), but is still well-proportioned, particularly with the eighteen-inch wheels.
Subtle satin brightwork around the glass and on the rails give it some serious class and a few little touches like the keyless entry not having an ugly button to activate it places the Peugeot a league ahead of competitors from Japan and Korea.
Inside is roomy and comfortable, with special mention for those brilliant front seats. Everything is right about them, even the slightly weird inclusion of massage function.
The almost button-free console is a result of many major functions being pushed into the central screen. Looks-wise it gives the cabin a clean, minimalist dashboard which is quite pleasing to the eye. More on the usability later…
Head and legroom is pretty good in the back, although the latter isn't class-leading. There's a conspicuous absence of drinkholders (i.e., just one) which will annoy many potential buyers.
Six airbags, blind spot sensors, forward collision mitigation, ABS, stability and traction controls and brake force distribution add up to five ANCAP stars.
Peugeot's comprehensive approach to stereo, sat-nav and climate control is found in the 9.7-inch central screen. This has its ups and downs but is fundamentally still too slow to be so heavily relied upon. Too often you need to look at the screen to see why it isn't responding to your commands.
Cars three, four and five times the price often fail to produce such a good, fundamentally comfortable chair
The interface itself is slightly cumbersome but a huge improvement on the first attempt in the early Peugeot 208s. Setup with your phone is easy and while it isn't a competitor for best-in-class, displays everything you need to know.
The sat-nav works well and is reasonably detailed while the sound quality is good if not exceptional.
The 150THP is the 110kW version of the 1.6-litre four-cylinder found across a range of Peugeots and Citroens. Alongside that power figure is a torque output of 240Nm, all fed through a six-speed automatic to the front wheels.
Once correctly installed behind the tiny, low wheel and high-set dash, the 308 feels terrific. Once upon a time, steering wheels of this tiny size were only to be found in Holden Geminis that nice girls weren't supposed to ride in, but after a short period of acclimatisation, it feels perfect. It has a fat rim and feels super-sporty, giving you the lift you might need when fully-laden with kids and stuff.
The front seats are absolute crackers – cars three, four and five times the price often fail to produce such a good, fundamentally comfortable chair.
Fire it up, and you'll hear very little from the 1.6-litre turbo, shift the six-speed into drive and you'll be impressed by its refinement and on-road poise.
Peugeot reckons you'll use 6.5L/100km. In our mostly city driving through Sydney's abominable (and steamy) Christmas traffic, we saw 8.5L/100km.
Rolling on eighteen inch wheels usually guarantees a rough ride, but the 308 has 306-like levels of fluidity and grace, which is high praise indeed and something that has been missing from Peugeot's for well over a decade. Fire it over a speed bump and you'll get a better ride than in most SUVs with which this wagon has to do battle.