DRIVING IMPRESSION: Peugeot 308 e-THP 130 GT-Line

BY CHARL BOSCH - MARCH 23, 2015

Once a name synonymous with toughness and rugged (504) as well as sporty and peppy (205 GTi), Peugeot has experienced the highs and very lows of the automotive industry, none more so than on our shores.

With a reputation for awkwardly styled and expensive offerings to poor back-up service, sales of models wearing the famous lion badge took a considerable knock during the early stages of the noughties, a trend not helped by South Africans being notoriously brand loyal.

Recently however, Peugeot has been on somethings of a come-back with an impressive range of models including the B-segment 208, 508 compact executive sedan, 2008 crossover, and the sexy RCZ sports coupe.

As parts of its continuing renaissance, the introduction of the second generation 308, which has since been awarded European Car of the Year, sees Peugeot returning to the all-important compact hatchback segment with the aim of rivalling the Renault Megane, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Opel Astra and the top selling Volkswagen Golf.

Compared with its predecessor, the new 308 does away with the much lamented “open mouth grille” in favour of a more conventional yet stylish rectangular setup with a deep front airdam and new bumper characterised by chrome surrounds for the foglights, and thin strips of LED’s acting as indicators.

At the rear, the old’s car somewhat bloated rounded appearance has been replaced with a stubby more compact rump with the lights also incorporating LED’s.

Utilising the marque’s i-cockpit layout, the 308’s interior is a significant improvement over its predecessor with soft touch plastics on the facia and the centre console now dominated by a smart 9.7-inch touchscreen infotainment system which replaces most of buttons.

For South Africa, Peugeot has made the 308 available in two models; Active and GT-Line, both making use of the same PureTech 1.2-litre three cylinder petrol engine as used in the 208, Citroen C1 and DS3, but with the addition of a turbocharger and in two states of tune.

While we could only sample the latter, our test route, which comprised of Cape Road, Third Avenue and bits of William Moffat, highlighted the quite nature of the engine with the usual three pot thrum hardly noticeable.

With 96 kW and 230 N.m of torque, the GT-Line feels strong with ample power low down and very little traces of lag. Likewise, the six-speed manual box feels nice and secure while the ride setup, despite the standard fitment of 17-inch alloys, is comfortable and well dampened.

Comfort-wise, the 308 doesn’t warrant for much and includes dual-zone climate control, six-speaker sound system with Bluetooth and USB, electric windows all around, auto on/off lights, rain sense wipers, cruise control with speed limiter, half leather seats with red stitching and massage function, front and rear parking sensors, electrically foldable mirrors and on the safety side, six airbags, ABS with EBD, EBA, ESP and Hill Start Assist.

 

For more info on the Peugeot 308 range, visit www.peugeot.co.za or for a test drive, visit Peugeot Port Elizabeth at 333 Cape Road, Newton Park or contact them on 041 365 2741