Toyota Corolla ZR hatch 2017 review
I know what you're thinking. If I buy the most expensive version of the most popular car on this planet how can I go wrong?
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Nobody buys a Peugeot 308 by accident. Not like a Toyota Corolla or Mazda3 – nope people just walk into dealerships without thinking and buy those cars like they’re getting milk from the supermarket, and I’m sure some of them drive out not even knowing exactly what they’ve bought.
I’ve walked out with ‘Lite’ milk heaps of times without realising it because all milk looks the same to me, and even though I’m definitely a full-fat kind of guy, I don’t really care when I get home.
But not Peugeot buyers, you know what you’re getting yourself into, and I like that. That’s not to say Peugeots are a problem – quite the opposite.
Mon Dieu! This is the company which helped pioneer the concept of a sporty hatchback and then built one so legendary that the mere mention of the name 205 GTi in some circles is enough to bring a hush to the room and make eyes go wild and watery.
But with so many other really good hatchbacks to choose from, and to the untrained eye all seeming the same as milk does to me, does the Peugeot 308 really stand out?
What does it do that makes it different? Are you paying more than the others just because its French? And does it fall short in places where the others excel?
I found out during my week with the Peugeot 308 Allure – the one with the three-cylinder petrol engine.
|Peugeot 308 2018: Allure|
|Engine Type||1.2L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
|Price from||No recent listings|
I know what you’re thinking: it’s French and I’m going to pay extra for that, like Champagne, and perfume, and hosiery, which are somehow different and more expensive than the same things made outside France.
Well, listing for $31,990, the middle-of-the-range 'Allure' grade with the 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine isn’t the priciest, but it’s not the most affordable small hatch either.
The Ford Focus Sport is $4500 less, the Mazda3 Touring is $4700 cheaper, and you’ll save about two grand on even the top-spec Toyota Corolla ZR. But the Hyundai i30 Premium is $33,950 and the Volkswagen Golf 110TSI Highline is $34,990.
So there you are, the 308 Allure is middle-ish of the road for price. Ah, but what about standard features? Yes, let’s talk about that.
Coming standard is a 9.7-inch touchscreen with sat nav and reversing camera, there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a CD player, dual-zone climate control, an auto-parking system (parallel and perpendicular), sports front seats, Alcantara and faux leather upholstery, a leather-covered steering wheel, the headlights and DRLs are LED and so are the tail-lights, there are two 12-volt power outlets and 17-inch alloy wheels.
That’s a decent amount of standard kit and the Allure grade also gains plenty of advanced safety equipment, which you can read all about below.
The 308 is a stylish small hatch, that looks more premium than a Toyota Corolla but not kooky like the cars Peugeot's sister brand Citroen is known for making.
Yup, those smooth surfaces, the broad chrome grille with the Peugeot lion and that chiselled shelf which runs from inside the ‘claw’ of the tail-lights through the door handles before fading into the front wheel guard make for a well-crafted premium hatch.
The 308 Allure’s cabin is a premium place for the most part, too, with its modern, minimalist cockpit. There's the unique 'i-Cockpit' dash design that places the main instruments in a binnacle above a strangely shrunken steering wheel (complete with counter-rotating tachometer), but in places directly outside the driver’s field of vision the quality seems to be lacking.
There’s the strange storage area with the hole in it under the dash, which I’m pretty sure isn’t a storage area, and then there are hard plastics in the second row. And despite those air vents in the front being beautifully crafted, the rear passengers aren’t offered the same level of comfort.
In many ways the quality is not on the same level as the new Hyundai i30 and Volkswagen Golf.
The 308’s dimensions show it to be only 5mm shorter than the Volkswagen Golf at 4253mm end-to-end; the same amount taller at 1457mm and 5mm again wider than the VeeDub at 1804mm across.
Up front the 308’s cabin is roomy, and despite being 191cm tall (and in need of a healthier diet) I wasn’t cramped in any way. I can’t say the same about the back seats where I couldn't sit behind my driving position without my knees digging into the seat back.
That 2620mm wheelbase just seems too small to create a back row with decent room, even the i30 with its 2650mm between the axles is only just ‘do-able’ for me.
Boot space in the 308 is excellent, however, with 425 litres of luggage capacity compared to the i30’s 395 litre boot and the Golf’s 380 litres.
Storage in the cabin isn’t as impressive with only one cupholder up front, two in the fold down armrest in the back, a pull-out bin for rear passengers in the back of the centre console and a small area inside it for the driver and co-pilot.
A small hidey hole in front of the shifter seems like a good idea until you place the car in Park and your wallet is trapped in a cave block by the shifter.
The Allure grade comes with a choice of diesel or petrol engines. Our test car had the 1.2-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder engine and with 96kW/230Nm there’s no way you’ll feel it’s lacking in grunt.
That said 0-100km/h in 10.7 seconds is not quick. But speed isn’t everything right?
The official fuel economy Peugeot quotes is 5.1L/100km after a combination of open and urban roads or 6.4L/100km if you just stick to the city. My mainly urban testing saw the trip computing dob me in with an average of 10.5L/100km.
You'll need 53 litres of 95RON premium unleaded to fill the tank.
In January 2018 Peugeot made AEB standard across its model lines – including the 308 (although the GTi was left out). Other advanced safety equipment on the Allure includes blind spot warning and lane keeping assistance.
The 308 was given the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2013 and it’s now an even safer car with the addition of AEB.
For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX points and three top tether anchor mounts across the rear row.
A space saver spare wheel is under the boot floor.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
The 308 Allure is covered by Peugeot’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and a three-year paintwork warranty, with 12-year corrosion cover.
But wait, there’s more, Peugeot provides five years of 24-hour roadside assistance for the duration of the five-year warranty.
Servicing is recommended every 12 months or 15,000km and according to Peugeot’s price guide (available on its website) you can expect to pay $380 for the first visit, $610 for the second service, $451 for the third, then $615 for the fourth, and $385 for the fifth.
Okay, here’s my tip: turn the start-stop function off immediately. Yes, it saves fuel, but it’s overly eager and will switch the engine off if you even pause for a moment – like when you’re in the middle of an intersection waiting for a gap in the traffic to turn right or when you stop for a boom gate in a car park.
Once that’s done you’ll very likely love the driving experience. The 308 not only has a comfortable ride but it handles so impressively that it’ll make driving a Corolla feel you’re behind the wheel of a fridge.
The steering is excellent with great turn-in that bites quickly into corners. There’s a planted confidence in the way the 308 holds its body so controllably in bends, and that three-cylinder purrs and pulls harder than you’d expect.
Great brakes and good grip from the 225/45 R17 tyres make for an engaging driving experience that’s better than the majority of the 308’s rivals.
And don’t worry, you’ll get used to the tiny steering wheel and the high-placed speedo. As for the tacho which revs ‘backwards’ – I’ll never get used to that.
This is a Pug you'll feel smug in. Smug for good reason, too, because you have just reached into the car supermarket 'fridge' and pulled out whatever is closest or because its what you or lost other other people always buy. The 308 Allure does just what the other small hatches do, but it's a bit more special than most in its styling, and more importantly, in the driving.
|Active||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||No recent listings||2018 Peugeot 308 2018 Active Pricing and Specs|
|Allure||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||No recent listings||2018 Peugeot 308 2018 Allure Pricing and Specs|
|Avantage Tennis Limited EDT||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$22,300 – 30,250||2018 Peugeot 308 2018 Avantage Tennis Limited EDT Pricing and Specs|
|GT||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||No recent listings||2018 Peugeot 308 2018 GT Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||8|