France’s car making industry has a long relationship with Australia. Renault, Citroen and Peugeot have raced and rallied here, sold some highly regarded cars and shown us a legend or two. Peugeot resonates with us because of these three letters: GTi. They’ve also stayed true to naming their cars with numbers, such as the 308 Tourer Allure Premium that that A Wheel Thing spent a week with.
Take Dr Who‘s TARDIS, slap on four wheels, paint it white, and slide a turbocharged 1.6 litre petrol fed engine under the control stack. Sure, a stretch of the visual imagination, but that’s an idea of what the Peugeot 308 Tourer (European fancyschmantz for a station wagon) is like.
Stand outside and gaze at its curves and think about how compactly designed it looks, then you open the doors, park your bum on the super comfortable seats Mistral black faux leather and Alcantara cloth and suddenly the realisation that it’s roomier than it looks hits you.The Tourer is just under 4.6 metres in total length and looks it, yet squeezes in a 2730 mm wheelbase. It hides the spacious interior with a stubby nose, long and slightly downward curving roof (with full length glass) over a low set, bum dragging looking, rear bumper. Inside there’s that TARDIS interior; boot/cargo space starts at 625 litres then hits 1740 litres with the 60/40 folding pews flat, plenty of rear seat passenger leg room and headroom, plus loads of shoulder room as well. One almost feels as if a bed could pop out or a fridge would appear.Peugeot’s gone (some would say) typically French in design aspects for the interior. Sit down and look forward, you expect to see the dash dials hiding meekly under the top half of the steering wheel. Cue Family Feud’s wrong answer noise. There’s a trapezoidal binnacle housing the instrument cluster staring back at you, with the tiller set lower and…it works, as does the unusual location for a USB charging port, with enough room for a smartphone.The speedo and tacho (which spins anti-clockwise) are closer to the driver’s forward looking eyeline, providing a better safety factor. Each dial is partnered by a small fuel and temperature gauge, with a simple yet classy monochrome information display bisecting the main dials.
Simple and classy stays with the Peugeot’s centre console, with a 9.7 inch touchscreen offering a slightly different take on things. There’s no aircon controls, they’re all on the touchscreen and accessed via an icon, as are all options, surrounding the screen. Think of each main item such as radio or navigation being accessed via one simple touch with all operations for them taken in hand from there. There’s also a 6.9 gigabyte hard drive to store music.
The downside is not a deal breaker; if you’re listening to the radio and want to check another station but the screen is showing the navigation, you need to touch the radio icon to bring that up. It’s not 100% user friendly but really only an issue if you need to continually change the temperature or station.
The gorgeous eighteen inch diameter Diamond Sapphire wheels, as fitted to the review car, clad in 225/50 Michelin tyres (natch!) fill the wheel wells, looking almost as if a decent bump would rub the tyre inside. It’s a sporty ride, but more about that later. The nose is sweetly curved, hiding the 1.6L turbo four (a bigger oil burner is available), which punches out a seemingly modest 110 kilowatts (6000 revs are required to see them) but a handy 240 torques at 1400 rpm. It’s enough to see a zero to one hundred time of just under nine seconds. At the rear is a small 53 litre tank, which, with the 110 kilowatts, doesn’t seem much BUT the car starts at just 1315 kilograms, meaning it’s just 11.95 kilos for each kilowatt. Bang it all together and it’s a reasonable 8.8L of go-juice consumed for every 100 kilometres covered in a suburban environment.
The overall look of the Tourer is a mostly a harmonious, wholistic approach; the nose is superbly integrated as a design feature, with the headlights, lower air intake and grille reflecting each other in the angles. A direct rear view gives the viewer an exercise in French pertness with slimline tailights wrapping around into the rear fenders (a look shared with the Renault Magane wagon).In profile the rear drags the overall look down, by dragging the bum down. It looks heavy, overweight and unbalanced. in comparison to the neatly tapering windowline.
The ride is sharp, tight, more akin to piloting a dedicated two door convertible than a compact family wagon. It almost feels as if a corner will lift, ala the GTi, when brought hard into a turn. The wheelbase and weight make it a sparkling performer, with a rapid response from the turn of the tiller, and that relative lack of weight means it’ll stop and quickly. But because the suspension is wound up tighter than a watch spring, the pea in the princess’s bed is far more noticeable.
Give the accelerator a prod from Stop, there’s a hesitancy before the little engine that could springs into life. That low rev point for peak torque then spools in, giving a surge that is at odds with the claimed one hundred kilometre time. On the highway it’s the easy access to that torque that allows for safe, comfortable overaking although the front does get a bit raucous.
Dr Who would be happy with the room inside the Tourer. You’d have to be a snob to not be happy with the interior features. Performance wise, well, it IS a family wagon but there’s plenty of verve and joie de vivre as well. It’s economical enough tom placate the nervous wallet and brings Peugeot back to forefront of a car company to consider
Pricing is competitive:
Peugeot 308 Touring RRP* Full Driveaway
308 Touring Allure 110kW THP automatic $34,689 $38,787
308 Touring Allure 110kW BlueHDi automatic $36,543 $40,698
308 Touring Allure Premium 110kW THP automatic $38,393 $42,602
308 Touring Allure Premium 110kW BlueHDi automatic $40,622 $44,900
For more details: Peugeot 308 Tourer