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Peugeot Oxygo 308
THE most elegant car in its sector, the Peugeot 308 now has a slightly different look and some significant changes to its engine technology.
Key elements of the exterior changes are the new modern and sporty family nose, which suits the more upmarket positioning, the new Lion badge positioned on a black lacquer background with a chrome trim, and more curves around the headlights and bonnet.
There are also pretty daytime running lights and a lower waistline, plus new dual-function front headlamp assemblies.
Peugeot calls the new outline “fluid and full of character”, and there’s no denying that the V-shaped front profile is a step in the right direction.
The 308’s cabin has never been found lacking in terms of ambience, and the use of premium-grade trim materials and plush upholstery remain a key selling point.
Subtle changes have been made to provide a sense of space and brightness, and there is a little more elbow room and storage capacity.
Plump for the higher specifications and you also get a panooramic glass roof.
From behind the wheel, the rakish windscreen provides an excellent panorama, and the various controls are invariably clear and close-tohand.
The instrument dials remain beautifully simple, but the layout of the audio controls is plain awful. I finally figured out while driving in the dark that a shiny bit of metal on the far left of the audio panel controlled the volume levels.
It would have been easy for Peugeot to charge for lots of addons to the basic specification, but even the entry model comes with air-conditioning, ESP, ABS, rear electric windows, remote-control central locking with deadlocks, CD player with MP3 playback and six airbags.
As you move through the range to Active, Allure and GT models, then alloy wheels, a better audio unit, sat-navigation, parking sensors, climate control and leather upholstery become part of the packages.
But Peugeot’s revised 308 is not just about the changes to the cabin specification and exterior design.
It is the second Peugeot car, following on from the 508, to be equipped with the e-HDi microhybrid second generation stop and start system.
Simply put, the stop-start action is near-seamless in practice and the shutdowns and start-ups are barely noticeable. The start up-response time is also lightning quick.
This new piece of engineering also offers regenerative braking and a battery storage system to help power the car’s ancillaries when stationary, plus boost economy and help lower CO2. Available initially on the 308 112 HDi diesel, it has CO2 emissions of 109g/km with a sixspeed manual gearbox on the ecobadged ‘Oxygo’ model, which promises no loss in creature comforts but a 98g/km CO2 rating if chosen with Peugeot’s automated gearbox option.
The 308’s engine line-up ranges from an entry-level 1.4-litre petrol unit to a 2.0-litre turbo motor. On the diesel side, there’s the option of a 1.6, which forms the basis of the economy-centric models, and a performance-orientated 2.0-litre unit.
Both are offered in different states of tune. It’s worth mentioning, though, that the 1.6 HDi diesel is something of a sweet spot within the range, and is likely to be a firm favourite with company car drivers for all the obvious money-saving reasons.
I achieved an average fuel consumption figure of about 60mph in a week of mostly urban motoring, while the official combined figure is 67.3mpg.
This excellent fuel-economy figure is not achieved at the expense of some grumbly diesel unit either. The 1.6 HDi is a smooth operator, quiet and refined and well-suited to the 308.
Whether given to you by your employer or purchased with your own money, the revised 308’s many detailed changes will be welcome.
Yet it’s also customary to judge a Peugeot on its ability to please the driver.
Over the years the French firm has built up a considerable reputation for delivering supple-handling cars.
This 308 remains an engaging experience, cleverly blending elegance with a willingness to entertain.
Available in six trim levels, Peugeot’s revised 308 delivers an impressive, rounded performance.
What sets the car apart from its many rivals is the increased focus on economy-minded motoring, but not at the expense of occupant comfort or driver enjoyment.
Peugeot Oxygo 308 E-Hdi 112
PRICE: from £15,345 to £221,645.
ENGINE: 1.6-litre diesel unit developing 112bhp.
TRANSMISSION: six-speed manual, driving the front wheels.
PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph in 12.5 seconds; top speed 118mph.
ECONOMY: 67.3mpg combined.
CO2 RATING: 109g/km.