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Peugeot 308 Allure hatch 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
8

It's easy to give The Tick to the new Peugeot 308.

After a series of dismal and uninspiring arrivals over recent years - some of them downright ugly - the compact hatch proves that the French brand can still do good cars.

I wonder why they are not all as good as the new 308, but that question would take more than a single CarsGuide edition to answer. In any case, the 308 looks good, drives well, has a frugal three-cylinder engine and has the plush look and feel of a Volkswagen Golf.

It's won a European Car of the Year award, picked up five stars in Euro NCAP safety testing and drives well for the class and price.

The price is still nowhere near sharp enough for what amounts to a "challenger" brand

No, there is no reversing camera, some members of the CarsGuide crew are uninspired by the engine and the price is still nowhere near sharp enough for what amounts to a "challenger" brand in a class where the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla are the sales benchmarks and the Golf is the car to love.

I'm also not convinced about the i-Cockpit driver layout, which provides an excellent steering wheel but an instrument binnacle that is always partly obscured by the top of the rim.

It's the same in a number of new Peugeots and I don't like any of them, despite Peugeot's belief that it is leading in a new direction.

I first drove the 308 in France last year and believe it could have been a CarsGuide COTY contender with a better price, more refinement on arrival and that rear-view camera.

Now I'm sliding into a 308 on roads I know, still with the new-age three-cylinder engine but better equipped with a six-speed automatic gearbox and an Allure package that brings a 9.7-inch touchscreen, cruise control, alloys and parking radar. On the safety front there is a six-airbag package, tyre-pressure monitoring and the usual stability control.

It's a tasty package but the Peugeot people in France don't understand the reality of price pressures in Australia, where $30,490 is too much for this car and even the $21,990 starter price is too costly when you can buy many of its rivals for less than $20,000 on the road.

Still, I can see and feel the quality in the car. There might be some hard plastic surfaces but the seats are truly excellent and so is the wheel, the ride is plush and it's quiet at any speed.

It takes some learning to get the best from the baby triple, which makes a useful 96kW but is tweaked mostly for economy. The six-speed auto is always looking for the highest gear but you can hit the Sport button for sharper response or resort to manual changes - where the "correct" race-style change means pushing forward to downshift and pulling back for an upshift - if you really want to go.

There is a lot to like and not much to complain about

The syncopation of a three-cylinder engine is unusual at first but I've known them since the original Daihatsu Charade in the 1980s through to the latest BMW i8 hybrid and quite like the sound and feel.

Moving through the cabin, the 308 has good space, there is a big boot and the fuel economy is very good.

Verdict

In fact, there is a lot to like and not much to complain about. The 308 is the closest thing I've felt to a Golf, and it's a car to drive and enjoy over any distance.

And, on the reversing camera front, Peugeot says it is working steadily through the range to get them standard for Australia. There is no timing yet, but a camera is coming.

Pricing guides

$13,990
Based on 32 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$10,900
Highest Price
$21,500

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
CC Allure Turbo 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $27,500 – 33,110 2015 Peugeot 308 2015 CC Allure Turbo Pricing and Specs
Access 1.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $9,990 – 11,950 2015 Peugeot 308 2015 Access Pricing and Specs
Active 1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $10,900 – 15,999 2015 Peugeot 308 2015 Active Pricing and Specs
Allure 1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $12,500 – 18,150 2015 Peugeot 308 2015 Allure Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8