The 2018 Peugeot 308 Touring presents as an attractive and viable alternative to a flood of SUVs on the roads.
This was originally going to be a review on the Peugeot 308 Allure hatch. But, due to a logistical SNAFU (and not Peugeot's fault, I'd like to stress) that car was suddenly unavailable, and we instead found ourselves faced with this, the 2018 Peugeot 308 Touring. Oh well, any port in a storm, as the saying goes...
First launched locally in 2014, this second-generation 308 has been updated each model year to bring it into line with current trends. The MY18 Peugeot 308 is no different, benefitting from styling updates and upgraded levels of specification.
On test we have the Peugeot 308 Touring Allure, which, aside from the company's stonking 308 GTi hot hatch, represents the top of the range in the not-hot-hatch 308 line-up. Priced at $37,990 plus on-road costs, our test car was fitted with the $2700 optional Nappa leather interior and 18-inch alloys (17s are standard), as well as the classy and glassy panoramic roof ($1000), bringing the as-tested price to $41,690. That’s on par with arguably its nearest rival, the Volkswagen Golf 110TDI Highline wagon that gets underway at $38,990 before options and on-road costs.
Pug power comes courtesy of a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel with reasonably healthy outputs of 110kW and 370Nm. Power is sent to the front wheels via an Aisin-sourced six-speed auto transmission and the family lugger can, according to Peugeot, hustle from 0–100km/h in 10 seconds flat with a top speed of the quaintly specific 209km/h. Peugeot also reckons the 308 Touring can cover a standing kilometre, i.e. 0–1000m, in 31.1 seconds. Is that even a thing? Typically different then, from the French.
Also typical is the long list of standard inclusions, in line with Peugeot’s continued marketing of itself as a premium brand in Australia. Befitting a range-topper, the 308 Touring Allure comes equipped with a 9.7-inch touchscreen navigation system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear-view camera with front and rear parking sensors, leather steering wheel, driver attention alert, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB input, and Peugeot’s signature ‘three claw’ LED tail-lights.
Additional kit includes keyless entry and start, active blind spot monitoring, active lane-keep assist, full-LED headlights with high beam assist, speed limit recognition, an electric parking brake, city park assist, electric folding door mirrors with welcome light, Alcantara trim with sports front seats as standard (although our tester was fitted with optional Nappa leather, as already outlined), and silver roof rails.
There’s also new-for-2018 autonomous emergency braking, bundled with adaptive cruise control included as standard, not just in this high grade, but across the range (excluding the manual-only GTi).
The cabin of the 308 is a masterclass in minimalism. Understated, and with a premium feel. Some won’t like the lack of tactile switchgear, and I’ll admit I was one of those people, but after spending a week in the 308, it grew on me. I love the uncluttered look of the dash and surrounds. And navigating the touchscreen for just about all functions becomes a cinch with a few uses. Functions are simply laid out and intuitive to use.
Peugeot’s obligatory small steering wheel remains and in this context, in this car, it works. Again, we’ve criticised the tiller in some applications (namely, in Peugeot’s 5008 SUV where it looks out of place), but in a car of this size, the steering wheel is perfectly at home. The leather-trimmed wheel feels nice in the hand too, and that flat-bottom shape lends the 308 a sporty air. Adjustable too, both tilt and reach.
Second-row passengers won’t be uncomfortable, but neither will they be basking in spacious and luxurious splendour. The rear pews are comfortable – for two… Three across would be a tad tight – and there are a couple of cupholders in the fold-down armrest. No USB point, though, the sole example reserved for the front row.
Of course, the reason buyers might plump for a wagon over, say, a hatch, or even a small to medium-sized SUV, is for space. In that regard, the 308 Touring doesn’t disappoint. Lift the tailgate and you’ll be met by a cavernous space measuring 625 litres with the back row in play. Fold that second row down (60:40, with a ski port, too) and that area expands to 1740 litres, substantially larger than its nearest rivals from Holden and Volkswagen. There’s a space-saver spare hiding under the floor, while generously sized pockets offer extra storage.
Of course, despite the numerology of its hot-hatch sibling, this iteration of the 308 is no performance car. And that’s okay. Because this is still a fun little wagon to drive around town. That 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is punchy enough. It’s also very refined, with next to none of that signature ‘clatter’ so often found in diesel-engined cars. It’s quiet and smooth with linear power delivery.
The six-speed transmission works well in this application, which is actually a constant source of frustration. I’ve driven – and reviewed – other cars with the same transmission from the PSA stable and have found it wanting in terms of driveability. Yet, in this iteration, it works just fine. It’s a pretty perky application in manual mode too, although using the gear lever for shifts (up for down, down for up) doesn’t feel as slick as, say, paddle-shifters. Still, the 308 revs out nicely and mojos along with a hint of roartiness and a fair bit of fun. It’s no GTi, of course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a bit of fun, right?
On the road, the Touring is a comfortable cruiser. There’s a lovely composure to the ride, quiet and refined. Minor bumps and imperfections are barely felt in the cabin while bigger obstacles, such as speed humps, are no match for the 308, which refuses to unsettle over those annoyances so common to our modern roads. There are more expensive cars and SUVs with less manners on the road, so kudos to Peugeot.
Of course, one of the benefits of diesel propulsion is fuel economy. Peugeot claims a miserly 4.4L/100km on the combined cycle, blowing out to 5.2L/100km in pure city driving. Our week in the Touring, spent predominantly in the inner city, saw an indicated 6.9L/100km. Not great against Peugeot’s claim, but when has a claim ever meant anything in the real world? A few longer highway runs would no doubt see that number come down pretty significantly.
Peugeot confirmed in February it was upping its warranty offering to five years/unlimited kilometres with five years’ roadside assist. Peugeot also offers a capped-price servicing plan for the 308 Touring with scheduled maintenance required every 12 months or 20,000km – quite reasonable interludes. Total cost over five years is $3150.
There’s really not a lot to dislike about this car. It’s a well-executed premium offering from the French lion with plenty of pep, a lovely and balanced ride, and practicality in box loads. It also represents decent value for money in the segment, while at the same time eschewing current trends that favour small to mid-sized SUVs.
And now with a five-year warranty (a common complaint of the French brand has been its lack of surety), the Peugeot 308 Touring is a worthwhile addition to any prospective buyer's shortlist when looking for that little bit of extra load-lugging ability.