It's been a couple of months now and our time with Peugeot's classy 308 Allure is drawing to a close. We really like the car for a number of reasons not the least being the fact that it's different - you don't see one on every street corner.
For some reason it's not on many people's radar but the Peugeot brand has been substantially rejuvenated in the past year or two offering style and efficiency in a range of affordable cars with that certain French chic.
The six-speed conventional automatic places the sweet looking Pug in a torrid segment with up to eight direct competitors from Japan, Korea and Europe. The main one would be VW's Golf diesel.
The current, well featured Pug lineup deserves a second look particularly with fixed price servicing now included. Prices for the 308 range start at $22,990. The Allure tested here is the top of the range going from $37,990.
It includes leather, premium audio, cruise with speed limiter, dual zone climate control, comprehensive instrumentation, multi wheel controls, auto wipers, park assist front and rear, Bluetooth, pollen filter with charcoal filter as well, rain and dusk sensors for wipers and lights, remote wheel buttons and a decent trip computer.
We really appreciate the auto wipers and headlights and would like to see them adopted on all cars. How hard would it be? The lack of satnav as standard equipment is a bit of an issue for the $37,990 ask.
Peugeot upgraded the 308 mid-2011 with a sleeker look that toned down the large grille and gave the car a more prestige appearance inside and out. It is in fact available in three body styles, hatch, CC (coupe/convertible) and wagon.
The 308 hatch looks good heightened this time around by some funky daytime running lights. Love the interior styling, Peugeot has really nailed it here. It has a French flair and is much better than Peugeot's efforts in the recent past.
The firmish seats are comfy over a long drive and the stylish cabin is a pleasant place to be. It has room for five and the load space can be doubled in size with the rear seats folded. Fits easily in the garage too.
Mechanically it's actually fairly mainstream - electric power steering, Macpherson strut and torsion beam suspension, 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine with 120kW/340Nm output and capable of clocking as little as 6.3-litres/100km. The tank is 60 litres. No drinking problem here thank you very much it's all about sipping the precious essence to elicit maximum yield in terms of output and economy.
We really like the fact that this car has both a charcoal filter and a pollen filter for cabin air purification. It means no more toxic fumes while you drive along. The six speed conventional automatic transmission marries up well to the engine and is always at the ready with the right cog for any given circumstance. The manual dips into the fours impressive.
Bear in mind that Peugeot's engine building operation supplies many highly regarded European manufacturers with diesel and petrol engines - the same as what is fitted to Peugeot's lineup (sometimes tweaked). The 2.0 turbodiesel isn't as advanced as the 1.6 turbodiesel also available in 308 but is good to drive with smooth operation and plenty of punch readily available simply by pushing the go pedal.
Five star safety includes all the usual equipment to achieve that and comes with what Peugeot calls an Assured Service Plan no more than $330 a year for servicing. The roll-on grunt available at most intermediate speeds makes overtaking safer and quicker.
It's been a pleasant dalliance with pretty much no down side and some surprises to help keep our interest. We prefer an auto turbo diesel because there's a smoother power delivery due to constant turbo speed and boost. Better around town too. The 308 would make a capable long distance touring car and equally proficient commuter.
It gets going straight off the mark and delivers lineal acceleration right up to whatever you choose. Better yet the 308 is a good thing to drive, a touch of class for not a lot of money.
Indeed, the really impressive thing is how it goes, rides and handles. Performance is never lacking with plenty of kick off the mark, in the mid range and to some extent up near redline at 4000rpm. Minimal noise or vibration enters the cabin and once a desired speed is attained, it's all quiet on the western front.
Not billed as a sports hatch, Peugeot has been able to imbue the 308 with clever dynamics that see it corner flat as a tack (no body roll) and yet still smooth out rough roads with its supple suspension.
We continue to be impressed by its flat stance through corners at speed which normally means a hard ride from a stiff suspension. Not so here as the small car soaks up the bumps without flinching and continues on the chosen trajectory through a turn.
Funny thing is, the suspension isn't anything special in technical terms a strut front and torsion beam rear. Can't get simpler than that. We drive plenty of cars and very few have this flat cornering characteristic. It's good.
Other dynamics are impressive - the brakes, steering and chassis are similarly competent in an unobtrusive way. You can feel it all working but don't realise it until you actually pay attention. It's like Peugeot's of old supple and controlled.
Yes, interesting car, goes great, plenty of kit, economical, excellent long distance cruiser. Looks pretty good too. A worthy competitor in the luxury small European segment against the likes of Golf.
Peugeot 308 Allure 2.0 HDi
Price: from $37,990
Warranty: 3 years roadside assist
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel, 120kW/340Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 6.3L/100Km, CO2 164g/km