Monday, 18 June 2018

Sacre bleu! Only the French can deliver style without trying

THE ease with which the Peugeot 308 took to the road was quite extraordinary for a modern hatchback. But what

THE ease with which the Peugeot 308 took to the road was quite extraordinary for a modern hatchback. But what really impressed me about this particular car — a 308 Allure e-HDi 112 — was its sense of style. This was beautifully understated to a degree that I found surprising in a model that clearly does not set out to be a style icon.

Yet with its moody Storm Grey 18in alloy wheels and stunning Egyptian blue metallic paintwork, this Peugeot was urbane and suave in that unmistakably French way.

Inside, it got better. The dark heated leather seats and trim added to an easy ambience that far more expensive cars try to achieve but often fail. This was impressive for a car with an on-the-road price of less than £20,000.

Of course, the “additions” if you like that made all the difference to this car — the paint job and trim — will cost you an extra £495 and £1,100 respectively, but I think they are well worth the investment. You want to feel good about your car and if upping the spec is the cost, then I believe it is a price worth paying.

But the added bonus with the new 308, which comes as part of standard equipment, is the marvellous engine — a 1560cc diesel. The HDi EGC stop/start model I have been driving is capable of 98g/km CO2, which is also right on the money for both your pocket and the environment.

This 308, directed by a six-speed manual transmission, can also achieve 62.7mpg on the combined cycle, but not at any hindrance to performance. Even with respect to the speed restrictions on our motorways and A-roads, the Peugeot 308 will cruise all day (and very economically) at maximum speed allowed.

A few words on the technical achievement of this engine are necessary here: the new Peugeot 308 is the second of the marque’s cars to be equipped with the innovative e-HDi micro-hybrid second generation stop-and-start system. This achieves a 15 per cent reduction in fuel consumption in urban traffic; a 5g/km reduction in CO2 emissions for approved cycle fuel consumption; 40 per cent faster restarting (which is twice as fast as a manual key restart); engine shut-down from 12mph with a manual gearbox and 5mph for the electronically-controlled gearbox (EGC) and silent operation and no vibrations on start-up.

This kind of technology plus the driver’s desire to drive more responsibly can bring about a satisfactory return on money you are constantly parting with for fuel. The stop-and-start function can be de-activated by the driver if he or she wishes, so although no one is forcing you to drive more economically, it is up to you: the technology is there if you want it.

Carmakers reckon they are doing their bit — Peugeot for example says it has invested £300 million in developing this “green” engine and its mission is to sell one million vehicles with e-HDi engine technology by the end of this year. It is a plan of attack on rising fuel prices that to my mind all motorists should be embracing, as fuel is unlikely to ever go back to being inexpensive and easily available.

My particular favourite in the 308 range used to be the CC version, the steel-roofed coupé cabriolet. Open top driving is still the best but I was so taken with the all-round style and capabilities of the new 308 that I might amend my preference (in winter time at least) to this very impressive Peugeot 308 hatchback.

The 308 was first launched in 2007. Since then more than 930,000 308s have been produced

89,000 of these have been sold in the UK

The new 308 was launched in May 2011 with a new look and radical fuel-saving technology

The new 308 is available as five-door hatch, CC and SW models

The new 308 hatchback model range consists of six trim levels, Access, Active, Allure, GT, SR and Oxygo.

Choice of four petrol engines and four HDi diesel engines.

A panoramic glass roof is also available

Price range: from £15,345 to £21,745

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