Peugeot 308 1.6T

COTY star scores turbo-petrol four

JAMES WHITBOURN

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

YOU MIGHT reckon we journos enjoy giving sub-par cars a kicking.

Well, there might be an element of truth in that when it becomes clear that executive-level cynicism is behind a dud drive. But when it comes to once-great marques that have lost their way, thereís no joy in slagging yet another disappointment.

When a brand with a backcatalogue of icons returns to form, however, applauding the result is a source of job satisfaction, and Iím not the first to get pleasure from praising Peugeotís secondgeneration 308 small car.

In the sense that the recently arrived 1.6-litre turbo fourcylinder variants Ė and a top-shelf specification level called Allure Premium Ė add strings to the 308ís bow, theyíre welcome additions to the mainstream line-up.

However, thereís also some argument, given how trim, taut and terrific the three-cylinder 308 is, that we didnít really need the four, which slots into the range beneath the newly released GT.

There is one exception.

The turbo 1.6 Allure Touring introduces a petrol option while dropping the 308 wagon entry ticket by $2K compared with the excellent 2.0-litre turbo-diesel.

The turbocharged 1598cc fourcylinder, co-developed with BMW, offers the same 110kW and similar outright acceleration as the diesel, though not near its frugality or torque-laden effortlessness.

By removing around 60kg, the new turbo-petrol has the effect of enlivening the wagonís nose, helping a keen driver point Benson Ė the Peugeot logo lion, didnít you know? Ė at a corner apex.

Itís a different story for the hatch, in which the polite fourcylinder has nothing on the tripleís warbly warmth. Weight increases by 100kg, much of which is located over the front wheels, and there is some sense it doesnít point as sweetly as the 1.2 triple, which is only a bit less accelerative (0.6sec slower to 100km/h).

The 17s and 18s worn in Allure and Allure Premium spec undermine the 15-inch-tyred 308ís rediscovery of French ride quality, while the broader footprint can exaggerate the rear-endís subtle torsion-beam quirks. The stickier rubber does bring noticeably more grip and precision, though, which makes the 308 a sharp urban tool.

The 1.6-litre turbo-petrol 308 argues a less-than-convincing case for looking beyond the excellent entry-level 1.2. Unless youíre considering the 308 Touring, that is, in which case the petrol version trades some of the turbo-dieselís stump-pulling strengths, but brings others to earn a pat on the back.

Price of a lure

HOW much extra Allure does the Premium tag bring? Well, $3650 worth to be precise.

That buys you active cruise control, emergency collision alert and collision braking systems, keyless entry and push-button start, a blindspot monitoring system, auto-park assist, 18-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, power lumbar and massagefunction front seats, and Alcantara trim.