Supple ride smooths Byron’s path to true love.
First published in the September 2015 issue of Wheels magazine, Australia’s most experienced and most trusted car magazine since 1953.
THE Peugeot is ruining other cars for me. It has nothing to do with the steering’s unfettered connection with my palms, and everything to do with what I feel from the seat of my pants.
Three months in and the mid-range five-door hatch from France continues to surprise and delight with an incredibly silken ride quality. It’s as if a fresh hot coat of bitumen precedes my every move because the supple and silent suspension absorption has bettered every other 2015 model I’ve driven this year, with the exception of the Ford Mondeo.
We’re talking here about patchy inner-urban streets with pimply surfaces, potholes, crumbling edges, pyramid speed bumps and tyre-shredding tram tracks. And the 308 glides over them, in most cases with utter insouciance. The same applies out on the open road.
Owners of post-war/pre-millennium Pugs may ponder what all the fuss is about, since classics like the 504 (which I own), 306 and 406 were renowned for their lush ride. From about 2001 the French tried (but failed) to emulate BMW dynamics with sub-standard suspension set-ups that traded Teflon smoothness for tetchiness, as many 407 drivers learned the hard way.
Wheels veteran John Carey once said that, while even keen drivers might only demand Lotus-style dynamics 10 percent of the time, everybody can delight in a comfortable ride 100 percent of the time.
No reversing camera, but rear sound sensors are accompanied by a pictogram that provides a useful reversing aid.
Yet here’s the crux of the Pug’s brilliance, because CWY-07A continues to deliver beautifully fluent steering, wonderfully playful handling and superb body control as well. These, along with a terrific turbo triple that continues to loosen up with mounting mileage, completes this T9-generation 308’s holy-cow dynamic trinity. Peugeot’s engineering magic is back.
You can even argue that it’s never been better, because the (Japanese-sourced) Aisin six-speed self-shifter works so well with the engine’s torque characteristics. It’s the first truly great ‘French’ auto.
Furthermore, fuel consumption (on premium unleaded only) is still in the mid-6s, there’s been not a single rattle or broken piece of trim, the low-wheel/high-instrumentation driving position feels intuitive, and the front seats remain supportive over long distances (and we’ve been on a couple of extensive but completely non-eventful rural jaunts this month).
Rear seat access isn’t up to Golf let alone Skoda Octavia standards, and the roof gutters actually slosh water onto the 308’s alighting occupants in heavy rain, but otherwise my French honeymoon continues.
All quiet on the western front
PEUGEOT told Wheels in France last year that the 308’s all-new EMP2 platform was engineered to be significantly stiffer and more rigid than the previous one in order to absorb 80 percent of crash forces compared to 50 percent. This, along with the torsion-beam rear axle’s mounting dampers, unique triangular ‘spacer’ brackets and specific sound-isolating rubber bushes, helps eliminate NVH pathways into the cabin, for a far quieter ride. Additionally, the sound-deadening material was designed-in from the start, rather than added later.
Read part 2 of our Peugeot 308 long-term car review.
Peugeot 308 Active
Price as tested: $28,340
Part 2: 1289km @ 6.7L/100km
Overall: 3878km @ 6.6L/100km
Date acquired: March 2015