Without stretching too far, you could conceivably opt for Peugeot's 308 2.0-litre diesel Allure instead of a BMW 3-series and come out driving a vehicle with quite a few similarities at about 25 grand less.
There's a familiar drive feel between BMW's 2.0-litre turbo diesel 3-Series and the Pugs and the ride and handling package is sporty/comfortable in both. They offer about the same interior room and are similarly economical. The Pug is just as luxurious as a diesel 3-Series offering a swag of high-end goodies and it now looks classy outside thanks to a toned-down face and other styling tweaks.
Still a front wheel drive though but that shouldn't trouble the average punter as the 308 is a good thing to drive, a good thing to own especially now that Peugeot has fixed price servicing and fun to drive.
Peugeot revamped the 308 about 18 months ago adding new equipment. The test vehicle, top of the five-door hatchback range, goes for $37,990 but you get more car than you think because the styling tricks your eye. It's quite well endowed technically with a wide range of multi media kit, Bluetooth phone and audio, auto wipers and headlights, an electrochromatic rear view mirror, dual zone climate control air and a modern technical look to the dash. Not quite to VW levels at this stage though.
We like the way it goes with plenty of kick from the 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine driving the fronts through a six speed conventional auto. With 120kW/340Nm on tap it matters nought. Fuel economy rates a combined 6.1-litres/100km.
It's quite a large "small" car with adequate room for five inside and a decent boot. Peugeot have added a smaller grille with more of a V-shape as well as myriad other changes. The sporty seats have partial leather but cloth where it counts and a useful range of lumbar support adjustment. The folding rear seats add to its practicality.
As expected, the new 308 gets a five star safety crash rating.
You'll never find it lacking. It's just a matter of pushing your right foot and away it goes -- whoosh. Up to 35kg has been shaved off 308's weight but this particular model still tips the scales at a hefty 1427kg.
The 308 is growing on us. We are about to embark on a Christmas holidays road trip of a few thousand kays. That will be the real test. Will keep you posted.
Peugeot 308 2.0 HDi Allure
Price: from $37,990
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Safety: 5-star ANCAP
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel 4-cyl, 120kW/340Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD
Dimensions: 4.3m (L), 1.8m (W), 1.5m (H)
Thirst: 6.1L/100km (as recorded), 164g/km CO2