Versatility, emphasised by the availability of seven seats is the hallmark of the new Peugeot 308 Touring, the wagon version of the French company’s popular 308 Hatch range.
While it shares the familiar look of the 308 Hatch up front, it’s all change at the rear, thanks to a distinctive window profile and longer bodywork.
The standard across the range panoramic glass roof is huge and is even bigger than its predecessor’s, and the vehicle’s extra length means there is enough space for a pair of occasional seats in the back.
This optional third row makes the 308 a seven-seater, while the trio of individual seats that make up the second row are identical in size and are all easy to remove.
This provides endless seating combinations, meaning the Touring can be a two seater load-lugger a five seater, a six seater or a seven seater, you decide.
Without the third-row and with the modular second row in place, the 308 Touring can accommodate an impressive 674 litres of cargo under the load-bay cover.
Remove the second-row seats as well, and the spacious Touring can swallow a cavernous 2149 litres all the way up to the roof.
Compared to the 308 hatch, the Touring has its wheelbase stretched 100mm and the rear overhang has been pushed out by an additional 124mm.
Particular attention has been paid to the vehicle's modularity so that it can be adapted simply and efficiently according to the requirements of its occupants.
Also in the 7-seat configuration two occasional seats are fitted in the third row. These seats, however, when required can be folded and with the second row seats folded as well, create a flat floor which makes loading of bulky items much easier.
Seating is theatre style, meaning each row is a little higher than the one in front, which helps to provide children with a much better travelling experience.
The 308 Touring is available with a range of two petrol and two diesel engines, comprising a 1.6-litre VTi engine that produces 88kW and 160Nm and a 1.6-litre turbo engine that produces 103kW and 240Nm, both coupled to a four-speed automatic gearbox, while the diesels are the 1.6-litre Hdi producing 80kW and 260Nm coupled to the 6-speed manual or the 2.0-litre Hdi producing 100kW and 340Nm coupled to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.
Suspension setting and wheel size options are taken from the 308 Hatch but have been revised to suit the greater load carrying requirements of the Touring.
The electro-hydraulic power steering seems to give even better feel and precision than in the hatch, despite being the same.
Driving the Touring is an assured and pleasurable experience and the extra length in the wheelbase may account for a somewhat better feel on the road. In the past we’ve had mixed feelings about the 308 handling but the Touring definitely feels more planted and assured than its Hatch sibling.
At the front braking is taken care of by 283mm ventilated rotors, which are increased to 302mm on the 1.6-litre petrol turbo and the 2.0-litre diesel models.
The 308 Touring is equipped as standard with ABS that includes Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBFD), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and automatic activation of the hazard lights during emergency braking.
Peugeot continues to make ESP either standard or optional, at a cost of $450, according to the model, despite the strengthening trend towards this life saving technology being considered an essential safety item.
The 308 Touring is available in two trim levels, XS and XSE, the latter offering a high level of luxury including leather upholstery and satellite navigation.
Prices start at $30,590 for the XS petrol 1.6-litre automatic and rise to $38,390 for the XSE with 2.0-litre diesel and six-speed automatic.
Combine that with the more aggressive styling of the new range and the 308 Touring shapes up to be a compelling package for European buyers looking for some extra versatility without losing the driving dynamics and economy of a conventional small car.