ALAN DOUGLAS: Road test – Peugeot 308 GT Puretech 130 Auto; brand roars back with style and substance
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The latest 308 hatch from French brand Peugeot reminds me of a stereotypical car salesman. Smooth and suave and in a sharp suit with an equally precise command of just the right figures to persuade you to sign on the dotted line.
From the outside the car is very easy on the eye with flowing lines and relaxed curves, which not only look good but are designed to help the car achieve excellent aerodynamics. All the bodywork like bumpers, body pillars, door mirrors, elongated roof spoiler and even the wheels have been styled for improved airflow.
But step inside and the landscape changes dramatically into sharp angles and pointed corners in what I’m told is a trapezoidal theme.
The designers have done a brilliant job in creating one of the best-looking new cars to emerge out of lockdown.
From the outside the car, both in hatch or SW estate version, is a smart addition to the landscape, especially in the “olivine green” paint job of the test car, one of the seven dramatic colour options on offer.
It has a forceful front and a neat back end and a big improvement on the previous models which have borne the 308 name.
The new 308 is the first to display Peugeot’s new brand logo on the boot lid and grille – hiding the radar sensor – retaining the lion theme but as a roaring head rather than a full animal. It’s a clear statement of the company’s fresh approach to the future where four new models are on the near horizon and the entire range will have an electric element by 2025.
It’s longer than the previous model which means there’s more room for passengers in the back.
LED headlights are standard across the range with vertical daytime running lights while the taillights have full LED technology and the iconic three-claw signature.
On the road, the car has a great stance and looks much more significant than the outgoing model, and while the three-cylinder petrol engine in the test car was remarkably capable, it sounded surprisingly noisy at low speeds when extra oomph was called upon.
It felt fully confident on the road and the eight-speed auto box was a delight, but the interior is even more significant with a very stylish look across the width of the car’s dash, which oozes clean efficiency.
For the driver, the eye-level 10-inch digital instrument pod shows clear information and the GT test car’s cluster has a 3D display which could be over-complicated but is superbly crisp and concise.
Central to the whole look is the Peugeot trademark small multi-function steering wheel.
The upper grades come with configurable virtual i-toggles alongside the central screen which are touch-sensitive for a shortcut to functions like the air conditioning and phone contacts without having to scroll through a menu.
The car’s dynamic controls have impulse selection of reverse, neutral or drive and the driving style selector for the modes of Electric, Hybrid, Eco, Normal and Sport depending on the model and powertrain.
The voice command system uses speech recognition for hands-free access to many of the functions while the a/c constantly monitors the quality of air entering the cabin and the top models have an air treatment system that automatically filters out polluting gases and particles.
The boot has a useful 412 litres of capacity, with 28 litres of storage in a hidden compartment beneath the floor. With the rear seats folded flat, that increases to 1323-litres.
There are five trim levels and four power options – two plug-in hybrids, a 1.2 litre petrol engine, which was in the featured car, and a 1.50 litre diesel. There should be a full electric version next year.
It’s a competitive area of the market with alternatives like the VW Golf or the Seat Leon, but 308 buyers will be attracted by excellent residual values when they come to trade in their car or replace it on their PCP deal.