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2009 Peugeot 308HDi Touring – Long term update

“After two months as our family chariot, Peugeot’s 308 HDi Touring is a car we could easily live with permanently”

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Right from week one, I was impressed with the sheer versatility of the Peugeot 308 Touring, particularly for a car that is just 225mm longer than the 308 Hatchback.

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With over 50 seating configurations (yes, I have checked every last one of them) it wouldn’t matter whether you’re in the photocopy repair business or surfboard manufacturing, the 308 Touring would be a wise choice for small business owners requiring a moderate load capacity without the need to go the commercial van route.

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Essentially, you can remove all five-rear seats in less than two minutes flat, and what’s more, each individual pew can be removed independently of any other seat. It’s very clever and brilliantly simple.

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Don’t think for one minute that you need to start jettisoning seats out of the 308 Touring, just to carry your new three-metre (9 foot in surf speak) Malibu home to the garage.

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It’s much, much easier than that, simply fold the middle rear seat forward and you can comfortably load up to a ten-footer in what must be a contender for the Swiss Army Knife of the automobile world.

Although, we have used the optional third row seats only twice over the two month period we have had the car, I would strongly recommend ticking that box if you have young kids, who of course have lots of young friends who will need to be dropped home after a play at the park.

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I suppose the best thing about them is you can squeeze your mother in law into one of these, where she’ll be well out of the way, and less able to interfere in family affairs.

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I wasn’t so sure about the full-length glass roof until some of those sunny but bitterly cold mornings arrived and with the blind fully retracted, the sun brings some natural warmth into the car.

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You also get that large space feeling and in a relatively compact wagon, and when it’s crammed full of people or sports gear it still feels spacious.

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Another thing that drives me around the bend are the number of personal grooming objects (I’m the only male in our family of four), a variety of hair brushes, moisture crèmes and lippies that usually litter our family vehicle, which is just not an issue with the 308 Touring, as the side door pockets alone, can swallow all this junk.

There’s also a tonne of storage space for the largest of drink bottles, wallets, E-Tags, and almost any other personal item you would need to store in a car.

For those of you hoping for an economy report this time around, my apologies, but I just can’t get enough of that 340Nm ‘with overboost’ and the way this diminutive little family wagon devours any incline that gets in its way.

You do sit quite high up though, at least in the driver’s seat, and that’s a good thing as far as all round visibility goes.

However, don’t think for one minute that this high seating position will affect the car’s handling, because I can assure you, it doesn’t, not one iota.

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Just to prove it to myself, I took the 308 HDi Touring to my favourite set of bends in New South Wales and put the car through its paces, as I have done so in many a performance car.

Now, while the Peugeot wagon will never claim performance characteristics to match the purpose built Lotus Elise S, it can claim to be the best handling lifestyle wagon in its class, and by some considerable margin.

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One thing you will notice going into corners is the complete lack of body roll due to excellent torsional rigidity built into chassis.

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Moreover the ride during these fast moving bends is sufficiently compliant, almost leaning towards soft but not quite, that you could rest several platters of gourmet sandwiches on the rear seats without any damage to the Fromager D’Affinois. That’s despite the fact this particular stretch of road is of a deplorable surface condition.

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How those Frenchmen are able to set-up, what is essentially, an economically friendly lifestyle wagon to turn into corners at pace, without so much as a hint of tyre squeal from the not so wide, but perfectly chosen Bridgestone Turanza 205/55R 16 tyres, is remarkable.

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You can put some of that down to the steering set-up, of which Peugeot is a master.  It uses a high output hydraulic electro-pump unit, which varies the level of power assistance depending on a range of factors including, the speed of the car, and temperature of the power steering fluid.

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The result is perfectly calibrated steering, no matter how fast you go or how bad is the road surface. The full leather three-spoke sports steering wheel is also an excellent piece of kit.

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That’s been my experience with every Peugeot model I’ve driven in the past three years, they all handle superbly, only with the 308 Touring, you also get that incredible versatility.

The 308’s 2.0-litre, turbo diesel engine seems to be even quieter now, with just over 4000kms on the odometer, all parts are bedding in nicely.

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While you can still pick this unit as a diesel on start up, once you’re on the move and in cruising mode, the characteristic diesel clatter is no longer audible.

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George, one of my colleagues from CarAdvice mentioned to me the other day that he noticed the particularly large brakes on the Peugeot. Good thing that, as you can never quite predict what a Sydney taxi is going to do in front of you.

This particular driver decided to hit the anchors midway through a green light on Pitt Street, which caused me to drill the brake pedal towards the firewall to avoid a collision, and the verdict – they work damn well.

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After two months in the 308 Touring, it’s hard to find fault and the silly two-pronged RCA lead for the iPod connection remains my only complaint.

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Stay tuned for a proper economy run in the 308 HDi Touring shortly.




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