After trying the Peugeot 208 in April, the 308 1.2 PureTech Turbo Auto GT Line came next and it suited me like a glove.
Often I battle to find a comfortable driving position but this time it was different: I slid in, turned the ignition, released the electronic parking brake, which switches on when you switch off, put the gear lever into drive – it’s equipped with a six-speed auto transmission – and pointed the Peugeot’s nose to Gordon’s Bay for a round trip to Milnerton. It was one of those beautiful, sunny winter days in Cape Town, and on the road the Peugeot behaved just as beautifully as the weather.
The peppy award-winning three-pot cylinder propels the Peugeot along at a pretty pace. It pumps out 96 kW with lots of torque (230 Nm) with enough power to spare, overtake safely and climb the hills with ease. I couldn’t detect any turbo lag and the exhaust emits a gentle growl which is like music to the ears. The 308 oozes class and style in that understated French way and it can wear the lion badge, which is so prominent on the grille, with pride. The finish is excellent with no cheap plastic feel on the fittings. Peugeot’s i-Cockpit is also a feature of the 308 cabin. Basically it means no clutter, few if any buttons to fiddle with, as everything is on the 7 inch touchscreen which is easy to operate. It includes the compact steering wheel, fitted to the 308, head-up instrument panel and the touchscreen with all the controls. And as I noted in the review of the 208 the needle on the rev counter goes in an anti-clockwise direction – perhaps its one of those eccentricities that make the French and their cars so endearing. Keep your eye on the speedometer or before you know it the needle will be way beyond the 120km/h mark. The ride is comfortable and the 308 floats over road imperfections, it is quite agile sweeping around corners. And it’s happy as a “Little Sparrow” (Edith Piaff), cruising at the legal limit. The 308 is also quite at home in peak hour and the music from the excellent sound system, six speakers, helps to ease the frustration of sitting in traffic jams. Also featured is a stop-start function, which in theory is supposed to save fuel but I’m not sure how effective is. And speaking of petrol consumption I recorded excellent figures: in a town and country cycle I used little more than 6 litres/100km, which is excellent and very close to Peugeot’s claims. Earlier this year, at the 18th International Engine of the Year awards held in Stuttgart, the 1.2 litre three cylinder Turbo PureTech petrol engine was named Engine of the Year in the 1-litre – 1.4-litre category by a panel of international journalists. It is the second time the engine, which is made at the Française de Mécanique plant in Douvrin, France, has won the accolade.
There are a lot of nice-to-haves included in the R370 000+ price tag. You get parking sensors, front and rear, electric folding mirrors, tyre pressure sensors, the icon is on the touchscreen, dual zone climate control, automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, partial leather upholstery,but there is an option of full leather, electric adjustment for the front seats, a massage function up front which should help to loosen the knots on a long trip and with the alphabet soup of safety features: stability control, ABS with EBD, brake assist, hill-start assist, and six airbags, to name some, should give you peace of mind. Boot space is good too: 370 litres opening to 1 209 litres with the 60/40 seat split. So there is more than enough space for holiday luggage or a monthly shop. There is ample room up front for driver and passenger but three adults at the back may be a bit of a squeeze as far as legroom goes. Summing up: the Peugeot 308 1.2 PureTech Turbo Auto GT Line is a comfortable car with that unmistakeable French elan. It is as at home on the open road as it is in town with all its associated traffic and, most important, it won’t leave too big a dent in your wallet, when you fill the 53-litre tank. The R371 000 tag includes a full five-year or 60 000km maintenance plan.