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Peugeot right on the money with 308

24.04.2015

WHEN I was invited to the launch of the new 308, I tried to put the fact that this car has already won European Car of the Year, out of my mind. But after the launch, I was so impressed that when I drove the car for a week, I decided to be ultra-critical, not only of the 308, but of the brand itself.

Peugeot in SA

Locally, the Peugeot brand has been having a bit of a tough time of late.  However, there have been some promising signs with products as good as the 208 and 308, as I discovered. The words ‘brand perception’ are plaguing Peugeot and I wanted to know why.

What do you think?

I decided to check out the perceptions of the Joe and Jane Soaps out there. I simply went around to various public areas, asking random people about the brand. People seem to have the perception that the brand is unreliable and provides bad service.

I explained to them that Peugeot’s parts availability is much improved and, Peugeot will bring a car to their house/office for a test drive, as well as the maintenance plan that comes with each car. Most of the people weren’t swayed but some simply didn’t know the brand was making such a huge effort.

What about the car?

Yes, I am aware that this is a road test but in terms of being critical of the car I struggled to find any major flaws with the 308.

Inside French-ness

Okay, that small steering wheel can obstruct your vision of the instruments if you’re a Hobbit like me and there is a lack of cup holders in the cabin. Other than that, the interior provides great quality and is clutter-free, thanks to a lack of buttons, while the tangible materials are top quality. The infotainment system/climate control centre works well and serves as a one-stop-shop for all your vehicle settings and infotainment needs.

Exterior German-ness

The model that I had on test was the sportier GT-Line complete with more athletic regalia like sports bumpers and 17-inch wheels. However, most people that I asked shared my sentiments, it looks quite a bit more mature and plain than many a Peugeot product before it, a-la-Golf anyone? Overall, the looks will divide opinion; I think its new grown-up look suits its refined driving experience while others will say it’s simply too vanilla.

What’s it like to drive?

Well, this is where the 308 impressed most. It is a wonderful car to drive around. The level of refinement, sound insulation and comfort is really top notch. The flexible platform architecture known as the Efficient Modular Platform 2 (EMP2) is much like the Modularer Querbaukasten(MQB) platform that VW uses, which means that future Peugeot products will feel comfortable and handle well, too.

In-house engine excellence

That 1.2-litre turbocharged engine is also brilliant with low consumption figures (I averaged 7.2 litres/100km) and enough performance for daily applications with 96kW/240Nm. The gearbox is so much better than the old Peugeot/Citroën efforts, however, it’s not automatic, and that is a problem in a market that buys as many Golf 7 DSGs and Audi A3 S tronics, as we do. There needs to be an automatic variant if Peugeot wants to sell volumes.

Verdict

It is easy to see why the 308 was selected as the European Car of the Year; it’s a car perfectly made for that region where people see the value of the car over the brand and don’t mind a manual gearbox. Locally, however, we are brand-loyal and have a penchant for automatics these days. I will admit though, this car should go a long way to proving the Peugeot is back and working hard to win South Africans over again, as it did with the 206 and 404.

Warranty and service

The 308 comes with a three-year/100 000km manufacturer’s warranty and a five-year 60 000km premium service plan.

Peugeot 308 1.2 PureTech GT Line    R329 900

Article written by Sean Nurse
24.04.2015
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