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Driving new Peugeot 308 in France

By HONG BOON HOW | 9 June 2014


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The 308 was the comeback model for Peugeot in Malaysia after a hiatus. Now, the French carmaker aims to up its game with the latest generation 308.

Introduced in Malaysia in 2009, the Peugeot 308 certainly had a striking appearance.

Featuring a large front gaping-mouth grille, nose-like bonnet and steeply raked windscreen, the French hatchback was a sight to behold, especially with those wanting a car with an aggressive flair.

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Being locally assembled, Peugeot distributor Nasim Sdn Bhd was able to competitively price the 308 and turn it into an attractive buy, raking up sales of some 6,000 units to-date and putting the Peugeot brand back into the radar of middle-class buyers.

In 2012, the 308 underwent a facelift to incorporate the brand’s new design “DNA” spearheaded by the 508, which placed more emphasis on elegance while reining back on the bold look.

Although the styling of latest generation 308 follows the elegance theme, the car seems to have improved much in handling and ride as our recent test drive in Le Touquet, northern France had shown.

The improved driving dynamics, Peugeot says, can be attributed to a new compact design that helped to shave some 140kg of the total weight.

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This includes the use of the French maker’s lightweight Efficient Modular Platform 2 (EMP2), aluminium front wings and bonnet, thermoplastic tailgate, and increased usage of high strength steel.

Incidentally, the new Citroen Grand C4 Picasso multi-purpose vehicle also uses this EMP2 platform.

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The car is slightly shorter and lower than the old 308 but its wheelbase has increased by 10mm to 2,620mm.

While it shares some design similarities with the 508 and the smaller 208, the 308 can still be easily recognised as an evolution of the original 308.

It gets LED headlights and daytime running lights, and the taillights project a three diagonal “lion claw” strips which is standard in Peugeot models.

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The new 308’s soft touch dashboard is a total departure from its predecessor’s, now dubbed an “i-Cockpit” styling featuring a “head up” instrument panel similar to the 208’s, a compact steering wheel and a futuristic-looking 9.7-inch touchscreen multi-information display.

The large touchscreen display items such as infotainment data, GPS routing, reverse camera view and air-conditioner setting.

To allay the fears concerning the touchscreen’s longevity, Peugeot says it had successfully conducted 4.3 million presses on the touchscreen without failure.

The instrument panel styling is similar to the 208’s with a small centre multi-information display, except the tachometer runs anti-clockwise ala Aston Martin.

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Its rear cargo volume of 470 litres, of which 35 litres are under the cargo mat, should be more than enough for the luggage of four persons on a short trip.

Our test units were the newly developed 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder “PureTech” engine with a six-speed manual transmission, and the 2.0-litre turbodiesel BlueHDI with six-speed automatic transmission.

Delivering 130bhp and 230Nm of torque, the 1.2-litre engine is surprisingly refined and punchy, making it a pleasant experience to drive the car.

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Turbo lag was hardly noticeable and the engine responds smoothly without hesitation. Even for a “little” engine, it does not feel strained when tasked near to its limits.

Our unit also came fitted with a Sport mode button which once triggered, would increase the responsiveness of the throttle, reduces the electric power steering assistance for more road feel, and turns the instrument panel lighting into red.

While these are the usual characteristics that go along with the Sport mode of most cars, Peugeot has gone another step by providing a racy tune into the cabin’s speakers by “digitally enhancing” the engine sound.

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Though the suspension was set towards firm and running on 17-inch wheels, the ride was still comfortable for our liking. Winding country roads outside Le Touquet can be taken fast without dramas as the good suspension ensured agility and minimal body rolls.

At high speeds, the 308 feels planted and maintains a rock steady poise.

Later, we got into 2.0-litre turbodiesel variant which came with a more powerful 150bhp and 370Nm of torque.

With more brute force, the turbodiesel is easily faster than the 1.2-litre petrol, needing only 8.6 seconds to do the 0-100kph sprint compared with the smaller engine’s 9.6 seconds.

Features include airbags, anti-lock braking system, electronic stability system (Bosch V.9), Hill Assist, reverse camera, dynamic cruise control, emergency braking collision alert, emergency collision braking system, Peugeot Connect Apps, 9.7-inch touchscreen, Blindspot monitoring and Park Assist.

The wagon variant known as 308SW.
The wagon variant known as 308 SW.


Besides our short stint with the new 308, we also got the chance to test the station wagon (SW) variant of the 308.

Sporting a longer wheelbase at 2,730mm and stretched tail with a rearward curved roof design, the 308 SW combines exciting looks with a larger trunk capacity of 660 litres.

For a much larger vehicle, the 308 SW’s driving dynamics is quite similar to the 308 hatchback’s, making it delightful to be on the driver’s seat.

Nasim general manager (product and marketing) Yasser Awan said the company was aiming to introduce the new 308 locally in the first quarter of next year.

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“The original 308 has been a success story for Nasim, and we want to continue its momentum with the new model which comes with improvements in automotive technologies and styling,” he said.

He also said Nasim was still studying the possibility of launching the 308 SW.
“The demand for the station wagons in Malaysia is not as huge as in Europe but we cannot discount the fact that there is still a niche following for stylish-looking station wagons here,” he said.

The new 308 is expected to be locally assembled, which means Peugeot fans can still get the new car at competitive prices.

Features: Airbags, anti-lock braking system, electronic stability system (Bosch V.9), Hill Assist, LED headlights, reverse camera, dynamic cruise control, emergency braking collision alert, emergency collision braking system, Peugeot Connect Apps, 9.7-inch touchscreen, Blindspot monitoring, Park Assist

Suspension: Pseudo MacPherson struts (front), deformable crossmember (rear)

SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 1,199cc, 3-cylinder, turbocharged, Euro 6
Maximum power: 130bhp at 5,500rpm
Maximum torque: 230Nm at 1,750rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 4.6 litres per 100km
Acceleration (0-100kph): 9.6 seconds
Top speed: 207kph

Engine: 1,997cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel with variable geometry turbo, Selective Catalytic Reduction, Euro 6

Maximum power: 150bhp at 3,750rpm
Maximum torque: 370Nm at 2,000rpm
Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 4.0 litres per 100km
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Acceleration (0-100kph): 8.6 seconds
Top speed: 214kph

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