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2009 Peugeot 308 Touring XSE HDi – Long Term Test


If I didn’t get moving in a few minutes, I was a certainty to miss my flight and that wouldn’t be a good thing if I liked the idea of continued employment with CarAdvice.

But my self-inflicted tardiness was about to get a whole lot more critical, when I switched on the ignition and saw the fuel warning light beaming back at me. That’s the moment when a sense of doom overcomes you and nausea kicks in just for the hell of it.

Had I found myself in most family cars capable of seating seven people, I would have started looking for a new job in Abu Dhabi or gone for a surf and contemplated life, but here’s where diesel engines can literally save one’s career.

Even better was the fact that I was sitting in a Peugeot 308 Touring XSE HDi (RRP $$37,190) and apart from the V8-like velocity this thing delivers when confronted with any degree of incline, fuel consumption is downright miserly and 25 kilometres on a near empty tank, isn’t worth a mention.

You see, Peugeot do small capacity diesel engines better than anybody else on the planet, and so they should. They’ve been building them since 1928 and lead the way in diesel technology for the masses. They’re compact, powerful and sip diesel fuel at an astonishingly slow rate, despite the sports like performance across the range.

Take this humble 308 HDi compact family wagon that has joined the CarAdvice long term fleet, its 2.0-litre turbo-diesel produces just 100kW of power, which is less than many of today’s high-powered motorcycles, but with diesels, power is not so important. What we’re looking for here is that extra low down torque or pulling power, and this car has heaps of the stuff, 320Nm at 2000rpm to be precise.

This means that you can climb steep hills – fast, without the need to punish the poor thing, as you would need to do with many naturally aspirated cars of the same engine capacity. You might also need some noise-cancelling headphones just so that you could hear yourself speak above the wail of the engine.

However, this diesel is quiet too, once you get moving there is less noise than you would get from the 1.6-litre, turbo petrol unit, not quite as smooth, but honestly there isn’t much in it.

Acceleration off the mark is swift with just a hint of turbo lag, but once the rev counter nudges 2000rpm, progress is rapid and the 308 is hard to hold back and a lot of fun behind the wheel.

Put that down to HDi (High-pressure Direct Injection) and common rail technology, which offers a whole range of benefits including less noise and vibration.

After filling up with just on 53 litres of diesel I absolutely hammered the Peugeot to get an idea as to the worst consumption you could possibly get from a tank in a purely urban landscape, and I’m happy to report a range of 542 kilometres. On the next report, I will attempt to drive the car with fuel economy in mind and report the findings.

Peugeot have a long held reputation for building cars that drive well, and not just in a straight line. Its cars handle as well as anything on the road, and for a family wagon like the 308 Touring, that’s one hell of a bonus.

You can punt this diminutive wagon into a series of sharp bends, and there is absolutely no body roll, none whatsoever, and I pushed it hard. The car feels utterly planted, almost sportscar-like it its behaviour.  This is not how family wagons normally behave, but I for one, aren’t complaining.

The brakes are in keeping with the superb handling dynamics, perfectly progressive pedal feel and very little brake fade down the Kangaroo Valley decline, which usually has your brake discs on fire with some enthusiastic steering. You forget how good these things go until you get behind the wheel.

The six-speed automatic transmission is a smooth shifting unit, with plenty of ratios to ensure plenty of go in most situations. However, if you need to hold a gear for an overtake, you can flick the shifter to the left and engage the sequential mode, which I use quite frequently.

I suppose after the accolades for handling you’re expecting a harsher than average ride quality from this ‘big’ little Peugeot, but not so. In fact, even more praise must go to the suspension compliance. You barely need to slow down for those annoying speed bumps, and as for those evil little metal versions you find in your local shopping mall, which normally cause a violent reaction to anything but a Rolls Royce Phantom, the 308 Touring just soaks it up without even so much as a clunk.

Then there’s that perfectly weighted steering, a little less assistance than you will have been used to in anything from Asia (Hyundai i30 is the exception), but you’ll enjoy the driver feedback through the steering wheel, more than ever.


If anyone knows the importance of style in the consumer world, the French do. Standing out in the crowd is a prerequisite in France and whether we’re taking shoes, clothes or cars, they seem to blend style and function better than most.

French cars are almost always distinctive, and the 308 is no exception. I happen to like the shape of the Touring over the hatch, it looks more streamlined although, stylistically, they’re very similar.

The current Peugeot corporate nose has grown on me too, but the rear of the car, as on the previous 307 model, seems plain and lacks that same sassy look.

However, that may have something to do with everyday practicality, which this diminutive station wagon has got in spades.

For a start, those additional two seats, which make up the third row, are not only proper comfortable pews (for under 10 years only), but they can be removed in less than a minute.

With only two kids in our family, I have done just that, which has exposed an enormous luggage area, as deep as it is wide. A full size mountain bike and short board are easily consumed, when all rear seats are folded forward.

In fact, the press kit says that there are up to 50 different rear seat configurations and while I have little doubt about that, I won’t be doing a position-by-position audit.

Essentially, you can move or remove each and every rear seat (that includes second and third row pews) to suit any and every known luggage-carrying job you can possibly think of.

The beauty of this system is of course, if we occasionally have to collect my mother-in-law on the way to Sunday Yum Cha (baked beans at home can be the better option), it will take me seconds to install just one of these extra seats so that everyone is comfortable. It’s child-like easy and wonderfully convenient, although it is an optional extra but well worth the $1180 asking price.

Our test car has fabric seats and frankly, with the cold weather well and truly upon us, I’ll take these over the leather option. They’re comfortable, exceptionally supportive, and won’t scorch you in summer or freeze your butt off in winter.

Like most European small cars, the interior appointments have a quality feel and touch to them and Peugeot are ahead of the game in the small car class.

There are metal look highlights everywhere you look inside the 308 Touring, while the centre stack is nicely angled which provides a roomy cabin feel up front.

There are no remote audio buttons on the well-shaped steering wheel and unless the Peugeot salesperson shows you specifically where these oddly placed stalks are located behind the wheel, you simply won’t find them.

You get used to this peculiar design strategy after a while, and I’ve actually come to find it strangely liberating to have a clean and driver-focused steering wheel to grip rather than the overly cluttered variety, which is common place these days.

While the white-faced instrument cluster is a nice sports touch, they make for easy reading at night, which I consider a safety feature given the constant need for speed checks by drivers in Australia.

As for convenience, there are way too many storage areas to list, suffice to say that you will run out of bits and pieces to store in the endless cubby holes located throughout the 308’s cabin.

Winter days and nights are a treat with the standard fit panoramic glass roof, which is exactly as it says; the entire roof is tinted glass, which the kids (and you) will love.

And if the sun gets too hot, just hit the one touch electric button and presto, it’s completely covered in less than 10 seconds.

I can’t be so complimentary with the standard six-speaker stereo unit. I don’t mean the audio bass and clarity, that’s better than average, but in order to use your iPod, you’ll have to open the glove box and buy a special two-pronged RCA jack lead for $29 and that’s annoying in this day and age.

Safety wise, it’s all there, seven air bags, ABS, EBD, EBFD, ESP, automatic door unlocking in an accident, even activation of hazard lights under emergency braking.

I can’t think of a more complete family package than Peugeot’s 308 Touring, it’s a master of all trades and perfect for small families or sports minded singles who want something special.

You can actually climb into your own 308 Touring for as little as $31,590 for the 1.6 XS with automatic transmission but my suggestion is go for the 1.6 XS HDi for $33,590 as that will save you a trip or two to the petrol station while offering more torque than its petrol powered sibling.


  • http://www.fmgjbv.au rich boy

    I don’t like the rear end.Very very ugly.

  • http://www.fmgjbv.au rich boy

    But the cars front is very nice.

  • o

    hopefully in its face lift it will get the new 5008 front and the 3008s interior

  • nobody

    Looks a great car for the price, nice drive and ride and very practical. Anyone have any ideas on how peugeots are in terms of after sale service and reliability?

  • Reckless1

    “You see, Peugeot do small capacity diesel engines better than anybody else on the planet….”

    Perhaps you should read this article, http://www.caradvice.com.au/32309/benz-reveals-more-fuel-efficient-c-class/
    which kinda disproves the above statement. There are other examples from VW, BMW, Hyundai, but let’s not be too pedantic.

  • Mega

    Very ugly front. Rear doesn’t look too bad, perhaps a little too curvey.
    $35k is an impressive price for a three row diesel with 6sp auto and (apparently) a nice drive.

    I’m not convinced on the glass roof though.

  • Pops

    Nobody: I owned a 2000 306 Gti-6. Beautiful engine but the car in general suffered from several build issues during my 3 years of ownership including a jammed key ignition barrel. I had to wait 6 weeks for a new barrel from France! I also suffered from a faulty ECU & my CAT convertor died which was the final straw for me.

    WRT servicing costs Peugeot seemed to think with their “euro catchet” they could charge Beemer servicing costs. $450 for a standard service, i.e. oil & filter change.

    The Gti-6 was a great car but based on the above issues & the fact the car was only 3 years old at the time I couldn’t warrant the grief of Pug ownership. I understand, however, that they have improved build quality in the 308.

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Anthony

    Show me a Mercedes 1.6 diesel similar to that which Peugeot do. And just for the record, the PUG will out handle the Merc on its worst day!

  • smokin’R32

    That is just so ugly, especially that first photo, looks like a goblin..

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Anthony

    To each his own, I find it quite stylish, more so in the flesh though. Frankly, its such a good drive, it could look like a tractor and I still wouldn’t mind it.

  • Jake02

    I like it but think the price for it (and the whole Peugeot range) is just too excessive. I looked at a 308 Hdi 2.0 manual and it was 40k with no options on road! That’s freaking ridiculous! And a 37k, no options, base price is just stupid. That’d be about 43-44k on road! And even a 6-CD changer isn’t standard!

    If you spend less it gets worse, I mean a 1.6 petrol/diesel in a 1400+ of car! Does it move???
    What I’m saying is that there are alot better cars availabel for much less (eg the wagon versions of the 308 hatch rivals eg the Astra, Octavia, i30 would all be better cars despite not having 7 seats!) if you want 7 sets why not a base Odyssey or Outlander? More space etc and similar price!

  • phillip

    I don’t mind the look of the 308, but for me the classic Peugeot wagon will always be the 504 and 505. Our family had a 505: it was a proper 8 seater yet didn’t look like a bus. We held onto it for years because no other car maker made anything remotely similar.

  • Captain Mainwaring

    My God that is one ugly car. More creases than a pile of laundry.

  • The Realist

    Does anyone in Australia actually buy Peugeot cars anymore? They’re like SAAB to me – irrelevant for this country. I’d rather purchase a *gasp* local than Peugeot or SAAB.

    BTW the car above is hideous.

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Anthony

    you obviously don’t drive mate, or you live in the NT otherwise you would see truck loads of Peugeots every day of the week.

    Incidentally, what sort of car do you have as you daily driver?

  • Alex

    To The Realist – You don’t get out much do you? You can drive around all day and not see a single Saab yes, but new Peugeots are EVERYWHERE! There are just so many of them. Certainly not as irrelevant as Saab.

    I like this car, but I think it’s a bit too high as the back. I’d rather the hatch and just leave two behind.

  • Jake02

    Alex said:
    “You can drive around all day and not see a single Saab yes, but new Peugeots are EVERYWHERE! There are just so many of them. Certainly not as irrelevant as Saab.”

    I’d like to say I agree that Peugeots are everywhere, but the fact of the matter is that Saabs are also quite popular (well, where I live maybe not where you live), especially old models, although I see many new ones, especially the 9-3 Aero SportCombi. Saabs are certainly not irrelevant, and after their sale from the disasterous company that is GM, their cars will be a whole lot better.

    And don\’t agrue if they make it without bankruptcy as the Swedish Gvt has been quoted as saying they would not let Saab fail, and do anything to save jobs etc.

  • Wheelnut

    If I had the money I would definitely consider buying either a 407 coupe or even a 308CC.. sure they are quirky but [with the exception of the Touing] they are way better looking than a number of cars from the other French Marques..

    Renaults look like auto-origami gone wrong – a design phiosphy which seems to have made its way over to Nissan; and the only good thing about Citroen is its hydro-pneumatic suspension.

    Then of course theres the look of the current Volvo line up

  • nobody

    Pops: Thanks for the info and your general experience with your Pug. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t have a good time at all. I guess that’s the thing people in general (myself included) are worried about when considering French cars. Service costs do seem excessive your 2000 Pug costs as much as a Freelander 2 to service!

    While as you stated I’m sure quality and so forth have improved it’s still a worry. Ofcoz it wouldn’t be so much a problem if I were living in France or Europe where parts and familiarity of the brand would ensure a better service when problems arise.

  • Mal

    I will always remember the 406 (not the coupe) with a great deal of affection. What the hell happened?

  • Will

    Classically French, a far better taste than any cheap repro of a 300C, and far more practical in the real world than any crap from GM., Ford or Chrysler. Wow, almost as practical as the Skoda, the way of our future, and that only has to be a good thing…

  • ComradeVodka

    I wonder how many people who think this is ugly, actually like the look of the rip off new Mazda3 front… Or even the hideous oversized lower grilles on the new Fords…

    I like it, its different, not many cars can take claim of looking unique, but this does.

    Anti-spam word: Mazda

  • Buck

    People seem to have overlooked the fact that many people buy these small common-rail diesel powered cars for their economy.

    My wife has had a current model Honda Civic hybrid for three years and it gets nowhere near its official rated ADR figure of 4.6 litres per 100km’s, in fact its close to 7 !!

    It doesn’t handle well, rear seat can’t be folded flat due to the the hybrid battery, which severly comprimises the vehicles versatility, its brakes are comprimised by the regenerative braking system, it has a choppy ride and so on… NEVER AGAIN.

    OTOH, the Pug 308 looks just the ticket for her greenie ways and a far better and more versatile ride to boot, (pardon the pun).

    Having said that there’s no way a car of this calibre has V8 performance or anything like it…..I guess that’s what they call journalistic licence.

  • Mumble Duck

    I don’t know there’s something about Peugeot’s that make me hate them! Hmmmmmmmm………………………….THERE F*CK UGLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lol.

  • Waldonbar

    I have owned Pugs for years, from 504Ti onward to my current 307 HDi Touring.I swore by Pugs but not this one. It is a good car when not in the workshop for warrenty claims. Quality Controle is shocking, and the $850+ for a 40K service is outlandish. No 308 for me thanks. I’m going Mazda 6 Deisel Wagon.

  • Waldonbar

    Owned pugs for years 504Ti onwards to 307HDi Touring. 307 quality controle is shocking. always in workshop for warranty claims, and the $850+ for 40K service is rediculous. No 308 for me. Am looking at Mazda 6 Diesel at roughly same price.

  • Cary

    I don’t mind the look of the 308 touring. My only concern is whether maintenance on this type of car (being diesel and a french car) may be expensive when compared to a japanese petrol vehicle.

  • Happy 308

    I’ve had this car a month and I love it. In the 2.0 ltr HDI I’m currently getting about 6.5 l/100km in suburban Melbourne traffic. My 5 year old loves the rear seats and consequently fights less with my 8 year old who’s claimed the second row. I also love the universal RCA audio aux input for the stereo as I use my phone as my MP3 player and not an iPod. Did I mention how good it runs… and looks. It’s my first Peugeot and it won’t be my last.

  • Glenn

    I’m taking a good hard look at this vehicle for two reasons. One is the terrific reported low fuel consumption in the 2 litre diesel version. There aren’t too many 7 seaters around that come anywhere near matching it. The only one I could find was the Citroen C4 Picasso (which I am also looking hard at and which is a true 7 seater). I live in a rural area and drive 70 kilometres return each day to work. I also visit my family on a 400 kilometre trip often. Low petrol consumption means a lot these days. Secondly, when I visit my kids and grandkids on a weekend, a temporary 7 seater could come in very handy. If you are a grandparent you know what I mean. I’m not too keen on that sunroof. I live in Queensland where it is a definite disadvantage.

  • Darcy

    The 404 was the last real Peugeot and that was a real car!