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Less is more: Peugeot 308 extends its claws

Less is more: Peugeot 308 extends its claws

From whatever angle you look at it, the new Peugeot 308 is certainly a looker. Moving away from its predecessor’s bold and often criticised bulbous looks, the 308 now boasts a simpler more refined styling approach with a completely new front end, thin-striped LED daytime running lights, and a more rounded rear facia.

The recipient of the 2015 European Car of the Year award, the 308, has also been on a crash diet with the newcomer weighing 140 kg less than before. Peugeot claims the reduction to have enhanced performance, handing and most crucially, fuel consumption.

Where things are more noticeable is when you compare the old 308’s interior with that of its successor. Dubbed i-Cockpit, the cab not only looks smart and modern, but feels luxurious with superb levels of build quality.

Taking a more minimalist approach than before, most of the buttons have been replaced by an intuitive, and large, 9.7-inch touchscreen display that offers Bluetooth connection, and even allows the climate control to be configured depending on preference.

Combined with the small steering wheel and odd-but-cool backwards rev-counter needle, the interior with its body-hugging leather seats and red stitching, felt like an all-round nice place to be with oodles of comfort and space.

As our test car turned out to be the range topping GT-Line, equipment levels are spec-ed to the max with cruise control, traction control, six-speaker sound system, front and rear electric windows, electric mirrors, USB and aux input, rain sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, Hill Start Assist, ABS, EBA, six airbags and 17-inch alloy wheels.

In keeping with the current trend of small boosted engines, the GT-Line uses a slightly more powerful version of the base Active model’s 1.2-litre PureTech turbocharged three-cylinder engine, that makes 96 kW and 230 N.m of torque.

Connected to a six-speed automatic gearbox, the combo delivers impressive dollops of power while the shifts were smooth and devoid of hunting. Likewise, the ride, despite the 17-inch alloys, was comfortable and effortless.

A key part of the 308 has been an improvement in refinement. As such, very little wind or road noise crept into the cabin during my “ownership” period, while the little three-cylinder punched above its weight and felt bigger than what its one point two litres suggested.

Driving in the city was a pleasure and kind of suited the 308, not only because the clutch pedal was missing in action, but also thanks to the responsiveness of the engine each time the accelerator was mashed into the carpet.

On the highway, the 308 hugged the road and needed to be reined in from time to time. When the vehicle was handed back, the odometer read 750 km and the needle was pointing invitingly to a half a tank.

As a package, the Peugeot 308 GT-Line was nothing short of stunning. With great looks, superb build quality, awesome performance and an interior packed with technology, it exceeded my initial expectations by a quite considerable margin.

To book a test drive, visit Peugeot East London at 5A Devereux Avenue in Vincent, East London, or contact them on 043 726 8976.