Peugeot 308 1.6 T 153 Allure
This is the new Peugeot 308. I know, a stark contrast to the old model, right?
For a while, Peugeot has really needed an upmarket hatch to take the fight to Volkswagen. The previous generation 308 was simply a budget family hatchback, and it didn't command, let's say, the most eager of drivers into the show room. This latest 308 aims to change that, and from the looks of things, they've got it spot on.
In Allure trim, the 308 has LED headlamps and 17-inch alloys, which give the car a rather sporty look. I have been a little bit blown away by just how good looking the new 308 is from the front - it's deceptively classy, and it makes the Ford Focus look... well... like shit.
Powering the 308 is a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which keen Peugeot fans will recognise as the same unit as in the 208 GTI, only de-tuned. It produces 156 bhp and 177 lb /ft of torque, which is considerably more than the Ford Focus. As such, the 308 feels more spritely than the Focus, and the engine is a real peach - maximum torque is available from 1,250 rpm, and the slick 6-speed manual gearbox is perfectly weighted. The clutch is light, too, and the brakes whilst sharp aren't going to give you whiplash.
This engine will return 48.7 miles per gallon on a combined cycle with a CO2 rating of 134g/km.
The only downside to the way the 308 drives is that it leans and rolls a little too much in the corners, and the steering is also devoid of feedback. It's about the same as an Audi's, in that it numbs your connection to the road. This is probably what Peugeot wanted to achieve, to give drivers a feeling of refinement, but it feels a little odd with the potent engine this particular model has.
Inside, the Peugeot 308 is really rather gorgeous. Allure trim benefits from leather and Alcantara seats with subtle stitching. Full leather is available as an optional extra, but the Alcantara contrasts wonderfully with the leather wrapped steering wheel, gear knob, and soft touch dash. Peugeot has worked hard to give the 308 a premium and almost German-like feel, and they've achieved it. This is without a doubt the nicest Peugeot I have sat in over the past 5 years. You sink into the seats and there's plenty of steering wheel and seat adjustment - finding the perfect driving position is a piece of cake.
And then there's the tech.
Allure trim gets you a whopping 9.7-inch touch screen control panel, which lets you control lots of different aspects of the car, including air conditioning, Bluetooth, the DAB radio, and other media 'stuff'. It's an easy to use system and the touch screen works well, responding to the touch like the smartphone in your pocket. You also get a reversing camera and front parking sensors in Allure trim, as well as power folding mirrors.