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Peugeot 308 1.6 T 153 Allure vs. Ford Focus 1.6 T EcoBoost Titanium

Peugeot 308 1.6 T 153 Allure

Peugeot 308 1.6 T 153 Allure

 

- £19,745

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.

 

Ford Focus 1.6 T EcoBoost Titanium

Ford Focus 1.6 T EcoBoost Titanium

 

- £20,055

The Ford Focus is now in its third generation, but this latest one hasn't won the hearts and minds of the Fast Ford faithful - it's only available in 5-door guise, but that's fine, because the 308 is too.

What this latest Focus is, is simply a damn good family hatchback. It doesn't have the style of the 308, nor the road presence of a Golf, but it's practical and pleasing on the eye.

This version is powered by one of Ford's award-winning 1.6-litre turbocharged EcoBoost engines. It develops 148 bhp and 162 lb /ft of torque, and it's essentially a de-tuned version of the unit you'll find in a Fiesta ST. The engine pulls extremely well and it even makes a good sound. It doesn't pull quite as hard as the 308's, but it's close.

This engine will return 47.9 miles per gallon on a combined cycle with a CO2 rating of 137g/km.

Titanium is the best specification you can buy for value for money. Standard equipment includes cruise control, climate control, heated mirrors, Bluetooth and MP3 / iPod connectivity. You also get keyless start, automatic lights and wipers, and the centre console is upgraded to a more classy affair. Ultimately, you get less equipment for your money than in the 308, though.

So the Focus is slower than the 308 on the straights, it doesn't look as good, and it's less well equipped.

Why is anybody going to buy the Focus you ask?

The driving experience. You see the 308 might be brisker in a straight line, but the Focus is much more composed and grown up. The ride quality even on 17-inch alloys is sublime and there's absolutely no wind noise at motorway speeds, unlike in the 308, where there's a whisper. Unlike the 308 the Focus has fantastic steering feedback too, and you feel connected to the road. It's a very mechanical experience, and something many car manufacturers can learn from.

Overall, the Ford Focus is the better car to drive than the 308, then, but it's beaten in terms of straight line pace and also in-car tech. The 308 comes ridiculously well equipped in Allure trim, with a 9.7-inch touch screen display, air conditioning, power folding mirrors, a reversing camera, front parking sensors, DAB radio, Bluetooth, LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels and front fog lights as standard. It also hands down has the higher quality interior, and it also looks much nicer than Focus. If you really want to go all out, the trim you want is Feline, which comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, and lots of safety tech including a collision alert system.

The Ford Focus might be the everyday man's car, but the 308 is better value for money by a long way.

 

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