Hard to believe the world’s second oldest car company has never won Wheels Car of the Year. But it’s fair to say as strong as French cars were in the 20th century, there’s been a certain – Je Ne Sais Quoi – missing since then.
Not anymore. If the 208 launched in 2012 was an entrée to Peugeot’s return to classic French fare, the 308 is the hugely satisfying plat principal.
The new 308’s lightweight modular architecture brings a palpable increase in quality and a wellspring of fresh technology
which confirms Peugeot’s status as a credible manufacturer of family hatchbacks.
Its 1090kg kerb weight is 140kg lighter than the outgoing model, and makes the 308 the lightest in its class. That’s commendable, but the benefits this weight reduction brings to performance and economy are tangible. And bankable.
The new 308 also has more practical interior space in both hatch and wagon guise than its predecessor. And where Peugeot was prone to gauche displays of Vive la Difference in their cabins in recent years, the new 308 takes a more conservative, upmarket approach – as it must if it is to win buyers from its main rival, last year's Car of the Year winner, the Volkswagen Golf.
Judges found plenty to like about PSA’s new PureTech petrol engine family. The smallest member of this new family, the characterful and flexible 1.2-litre turbo triple earned judges deep admiration.
Overall, the 308 from the base model up, signifies a return to great riding Peugeots and brings the dynamic sophistication we expect, and was lacking for so long.
And, with a price range kicking off $4000 below the car it replaces, despite a hefty increase in equipment and technology, the Peugeot 308 mounts an strong case for Car of the Year.