It seems the French have found a way around Australia's poor fuel quality, beating the rest of the world to bring the first petrol particulate filter (PPF) to our market in the new Peugeot 308 GT warm hatch.
Peugeot Australia has confirmed that local versions of the 308 GT will indeed be fitted with a PPF, despite other manufacturers like Porsche and Volkswagen claiming they're unable to bring their PPF-fitted powertrains Down Under due to our sulphur-rich petroleum.
According to the French manufacturer, its proprietary PPF system is engineered to handle fuel containing an average 40ppm of sulphur, meaning it's able to tolerate Australia's premium 95 and 98 RON unleaded – which wear a 50ppm max rating.
"Firstly, we engineered our own PPF system choosing 'Uncoated PPF' as our solution, rather than 'Catalysed GPC' systems which are also available," Peugeot says.
"The primary reason for this choice is that an Uncoated PPF system, in close couple position, is more robust and less sensitive to sulphur."
Above & Top: Peugeot 308 GT
An uncoated GPF burns collected soot solely with temperature and oxygen, and is "less sensitive to sulphur poisoning".
Meanwhile, catalysed units – the type likely used by other manufacturers – are usually placed under a car's floor, and burn soot with the help of a metal-based catalyst that coats the filter bead, which is vulnerable to sulphur poisoning.
"Peugeot has always been a leader in drivetrain and emissions technology and the introduction of Petrol Particulate Filters continues our lead in developing systems to reduce emissions, yet deliver an engaging drive experience to Australian customers,” said Ben Farlow, managing director for Peugeot Australia.
"Our engineering team in France have investigated and tested the performance of the PPF system and determined that it can function with Australian premium fuels."
"By developing this technology to tolerate fuels with higher sulphur content, such as that offered in Australia, we can give Australians access to a wider variety of drivetrains, such as the high performance 1.6-litre drivetrain that will underpin our 308 and 508 GT models," Farlow continued.
"With the government mandating the current fuel standards well beyond mid-next-decade, the time for debate is over, we just have to get on with the task of developing and offering efficient and exciting vehicles."
"With the substantive amount of testing and development that has gone into our system, we believe that our moves will be followed by others in the near future.”
The company adds the fitment of PPFs have no effect on servicing or warranty requirements.
Numerous German brands including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen have so far excluded models equipped with petrol particulate filters from local showrooms citing concerns our high-sulphur fuel would clog filters and choke engines.
Australia's unleaded petrol is allowed to have up to 50 parts-per-million of sulphur, rather than the maximum 10ppm mandated in Europe.
"When our company can be 100 per cent assured that the petrol particulate filters fitted to its new generation of engines are compatible with the petrol coming out of Australian pumps, it can begin to sell these cars to Australian customers," Volkswagen Australia said in a statement in February.
"The increasing number of Australians who buy European cars already pay a heavy impost for imported premium unleaded because their vehicles cannot function near to optimum on regular unleaded."
Australia's diesel fuel is already in line with European standards and has been so since 2009, though our petrol refineries aren't forecast to be upgraded to produce Euro-quality fuel until 2027 – so the estimated $1 billion of upgrades can be undertaken during scheduled shutdown periods.
Currently, Australia's mandated vehicle emissions standards are inline with the EU5 rating, first introduced in Europe in 2009. These regulations were brought into effect Down Under in 2016, two years Europe moved to stricter EU6 standards.
While the local automotive industry has called for Australian fuel suppliers to import 10ppm premium unleaded in the interim to allow more efficient PPF-fitted vehicles to be sold Down Under, the Federal Government is yet to make any inroads in setting new vehicle emissions standards.
For now, we just have to hope other manufacturers follow Peugeot's lead in engineering their PPFs to be compatible with Australian fuel.