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Sporty in all but name: Peugeot 308 e-THP 110
Car of the Year? Arguably. Engine of the Year? Indubitably
On the outside, the 308 looks much like a big 208. That is no bad thing in my book as I’m a big fan of the 208’s looks. Handsome, taut and purposeful are the sort of words I’d use to describe it. It’s certainly far less fussy than the Ford Focus, a design that’s not really grown on me since it was launched. And it’s more obviously a new shape than the current Golf, which, though a pretty enough wagon, looks a tad too much like Golfs of yore.
Alloys come as standard on the Allure but not the panoramic glass roof
Peugeot is making much play of the fact that, despite class-comparable interior space, the new EMP2 platform makes the 308 the smallest car in its segment. I’ve no desire to start rummaging through spec sheets to see if the width of 180cm, height of 146cm and length of 425cm actually does make the 308 the smallest C-segment motor about, but there’s no doubting that it is a well packaged car and very easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces. The short overhangs (863mm less at the front and 770mm less at the rear than on the model it replaces) help.
From the back, the design owes lot to the 208
When it comes to driving dynamics, the 308 is exactly what you’d expect from a compact French family car. The ride is well damped yet compliant and comfort and refinement levels are high. It’s not quite as rewarding a car to hustle along a twisty country road as Ford’s Focus or the VW Golf, though, and there is more body roll in evidence than in either the Ford or VW. But the differences are pretty marginal and I suspect irrelevant to the vast majority of motorists. A quick romp over the Pennines certainly didn’t leave me feeling short changed in the thrills, spills and grins department.
Bold hip-line gives the 308 a taut profile
So how much will this Gallic hatchbackery set you back? Just over 19 grand in Allure spec, which bundles those funky 17-inch alloys you can see and includes an optional panoramic glass roof, LED daytime running lights (whose major contribution is to make you forget you’ve not turned your headlights on when you drive in town at night), parking cameras and a very efficient Stop/Start system. Not cheap then (the range kicks off at £14,895 OTR), but class competitive and with enough toys to keep you amused in a traffic jam.
Great performer and looks like a big 208, which is surely a good thing
The Reg Verdict
The essential question to ask here is: would I recommend the new Peugeot 308 over a Ford Focus or VW Golf to a friend? The former is a superb handler and something of a technical tour de force, while the latter is the finest example to date of the best family hatchback conceived by a German.
The 308 is less fussy than the Focus both inside and out and while not as sporty, it is the more comfortable car. The Golf has impeccable build quality to offer and class leading leasing residuals but the 308 feels every bit as well made, at least as far I was able to tell over the course of a week. And then there’s that funky little three-pot turbo engine to take in consideration. It’s something a bit special. If it was my money, I think I’d be driving away in the Peugeot 308. ®