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Refined, frugal and fun
By Ghaith Madadha - Apr 27,2015 - Last updated at Apr 27,2015
Well-received for its driving dynamic and design when launched, the new second generation Peugeot 308 debuted it’s new 1.2 PureTech engine family last year. Smooth and efficient, the PureTech engine is a petrol-powered counterpoint to more complex and costly and less hard-wearing or refined turbo-diesel and hybrid efficiency models.
Available in naturally-aspirated and turbocharged versions, the most powerful of these high efficiency three-cylinder engines is the PureTech 130, and while the 308 PureTech version is no hot hatch, it nevertheless boasts a combination of light weight and generous mid-range torque. Fun, agile, practical and economical, the 308 PureTech is a sensible yet elegant family hatchback.
A handsomely stylish family hatchback pitched competing in the same family hatchback C-segment as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, the Peugeot 308 has a distinctly classy air and premium feel to it.
Part of a brand-wide design renaissance at Peugeot, the 308 is a more tightly penned and elegantly flowing car than its predecessor, and well reconciles its’ refined and elegant face and chrome details with an assertively athletic posture and sculpted surfacing.
Replacing its predecessor’s snout grille and bonnet, the new 308 features a classy and uncomplicated two-slat chrome-ringed trapezoidal grille, while its’ lion emblem now sits in a concave groove atop the bonnet.
Similarly, the 308’s flanks feature strong ridged upper and lower character lines with a concave groove running along the sides.
Assertive and moody headlights feature slight lower indentations and LED strips that flow into the waistline. Meanwhile, the headlights are reflected by scalloped clamshell bonnet edges.
A smooth and flowing roofline ends with an upright tailgate, while subtly pronounced rear wheel-arches, large 18-inch alloy wheels, tailgate-top spoiler and black lower rear lip lend the 308 a wide, eager and confidently planted presence in how it sits on the ground. From rear views, the 308’s twin-toothed wraparound rear lights flow right into its convex and concave side molding.
Fulsome and frugal
Available in three guises including 81BHP naturally-aspirated and 109BHP and 129BHP turbo-charged versions, Peugeot’s 1.2-litre 3-cylinder PureTech engine, is in most powerful version – as driven – more efficient and powerful than its predecessor’s 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder engine.
Developing 129BHP at 5500rpm, the 308 PureTech 130 is a prodigious small displacement engine, and with 253kg/m torque throughout 1750-3,500rpm, falls just 10kg/m behind Peugeot’s larger 1.6-litre turbocharged THP 165 engine.
With unexpectedly generous mid-range torque allowing for effortless load carrying, flexible mid-range responses and relaxed motorway cruising, the 308 PureTech however also returns frugal 4.8l/100km fuel efficiency and 110g/km CO2 emissions, even the largest optional 225/40R18 tyres, as tested.
Quick-spooling, with little low-end turbo lag, generous mid-range and eager revvy character, the turbocharged PureTech 130’s three-pots confidently drives the 308’s restrained 1090kg mass. Crossing the 0-100km/h benchmark in 10.3-seconds, when fitted with largest tyre option, the 308 PureTech 130’s versatility allows 11-second 80-120km/h acceleration in fourth gear, and a 201km/h top speed.
As smooth and refined as three-cylinders get, the 1.2 PureTech’s balancer shaft reduces its’ three-cylinder configuration’s vibrations, its surprisingly quiet but is underplayed by a muted but distinctive. Three-cylinder growl welling up from 2,000rpm on the 308 PureTech 130 is well in its stride by 2,500rpm, brisk by 3,000rpm and ever-willing to its redline.
Svelte and supple
Driving the front wheels through either 6-speed manual or automatic gearboxes, the 308 PureTech 130 self shifter tested had a satisfyingly mechanical-feeling lever, smoothly, which with a light hand smoothly and succinctly snicks through rations, while its clutch pedal was light and intuitive.
Brisk and fun in real world daily driving, the 308 revs and shifts eagerly, and aside from obvious efficiency gains, its compact three-pot engine is light over the steered front wheels. Light and eager, the 308 PureTech turns crisp into and tidy through corners, and was manoeuvrable and agile along sprawling country lanes and through towns and narrow winding hill climbs during test drive in Majorca, Spain.
With its tidy cornering and light quick electric steering providing accuracy and decent road feel, the 308 PureTech is fun and easy to drive. Through corners, its light front-end meant there was little proclivity for under-steer and thick 225/40R18 tyres provided sticky road-holding, while its suspension provided good secondary tautness to keep body control tidy and prevent excessive roll.
Though riding on firm low profile tyres for control, the 308 PureTech’s initial suspension response is supple and comfortable, which allowed for a smooth, forgiving ride over broken roads, cracks, lumps and bumps, and through such paved corners felt settled and confident as imperfections were absorbed in its stride.
A light, eager and agile drive that is nonetheless settled and supple through switchbacks, the 308 felt buttoned down on rebound from sudden crests and dips, while its cabin had a well-constructed refined and well-insulated quality.
Classier than many rivals, the 308’s uncluttered cabin design feels stylishly minimalist ambiance, with most functions accessed through an intuitive infotainment touchscreen.
Tastefully appointed with good quality fit, finish textures and colours, the 308 has an up-market ambiance. With supportive, comfortable and well-adjustable seats, low bonnet and low-set steering wheel through which one peers at the instrument binnacle, the 308 offers excellent unobstructed forward road visibility.
Well-spaced inside, the 308’s optional panoramic sunroof provides an airy and welcoming ambiance, but for tall and large drivers its absence provides yet better headroom, while a lower seating position would suit the low-set steering wheel for a sportier driving position when driving briskly through winding switchbacks.
A practical and fun daily driver, the 5-door 308’s generous 370-litre boot expands to 855-litres with rear seats folded down.
Well-equipped with convenience and safety features including 9.7-inch infotainments screen, Isofix childseat latches and front and side curtain airbags, the 308’s long options list notably includes high quality leathers and Alcantara, dual zone air conditioning and even front massaging seats.
Engine: 1.2-litre, turbocharged, transverse 3 cylinders
Bore x stroke: 75 x 90.5mm
Valve-train: 12-valve, DOHC, direct injection
Gearbox: 6-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 128 (130)  @ 5,500rpm
Specific power: 106.7BHP/litre
Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 170 (230) @ 1,750-3,500rpm
Specific torque: 191.8Nm/litre
80-120kmh, 5th/6th gear: 11-/13.4-seconds
Maximum speed: 201km/h
Fuel consumption, urban/extra-urban/combined: 6-/4.1-/4.8-litres/100km
CO2 emissions, combined: 110g/km
Fuel tank: 53-litres
Track, F/R: 1,559/1,553mm
Overhang, F/R: 863/770mm
Headroom, F/R: 895/874mm
Boot capacity, min/max: 470-/855-litres
Kerb weight: 1,090kg
Steering: Electric-assisted rack and pinion
Suspension, F/R: MacPherson struts/torsion bar
Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs/discs
The latest addition to Peugeot’s award-winning and recently launched second generation 308 family hatchback and estate range, the 1.2-litre PureTech 130 is the most powerful of three petrol three-cylinder engines designed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions without sacrificing performance.
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