Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Peugeot 308 XSE Hdi
Snug Pug
June 2008

WINTER doesn’t sit well with Queenslanders.

In fact, it makes us whinge like mad.

“How cold is it?’’ we say to everyone we meet, like it’s the end of the world.

“Brass monkey weather,’’ is the inevitable reply from another doleful cane toad.

Fortunately for this shivering Sunshine Coaster, the first bite of winter coincided with a test drive in Peugeot’s hot new 308 XSE HDi.

At any other time of the year, we would be talking more about its superb 2.0 turbo-diesel engine, impressive economy, gorgeous looks, comfortable cabin and poise on the road.

But not at the moment - we are in woe-is-me mode and no amount of mismatched clothing layers is bringing warmth to the bones.

A saviour is at hand, however, as the HSE comes with heated leather seats. Oh happy day! There are three simple settings - 1, 2, 3 - 1 being warm, 2 warmer and 3 hello summer. In an instant your core temperature can be restored to optimum level.

There’s also heated side mirrors and dual zone air conditioning that can be fired up to 30 degrees to stave off the ravages of the heartless new season.

With fuel efficiency figures of 6.6 litres of diesel for every 100km covered, you can drive around until the weather changes without having to stop at a service station.

The 308 is also a real hottie in the looks department.

Designed by Peugeot’s in-house team, it builds on the success of the successful 307, launched here in 2001.

The 308’s body is 74mm longer and 53mm wider than 307 and is available in Australia as a five-door hatch.

Head-turning looks are matched with an array of high-tech features, spaciousness and impressive road-holding.

Up front, there’s plenty of leg and head room and the cabin has an overall roomy feeling. Leg space in the back is not as generous, but fine for small to medium sized humans.

Seats are extremely comfortable and interior materials are of excellent quality. All controls are easily reached and the instrument panel clear and logical. Remote audio controls can be found on the steering wheel.

There is an armrest with two cup-holders and numerous trays, pockets and storage bins to house your bits and pieces. The small glovebox is the odd one out in an otherwise generous package.

Rear parking sensors come standard on XSE, along with rain-sensing wipers, trip computer, remote central locking, power windows (front) and mirrors, stability control, Antilock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBFD), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), leather-wrapped steering wheel, front and rear fog lights, and premium Blaupunkt sound system.

Safety is a strength, with 308 awarded a 5-star crash protection rating by ENCAP. All 308’s have six airbags fitted as standard, and a seventh driver column or “knee’’ airbag available as an option ($250) on XSE and XTE models.

The 308 XSE HDi is priced from $35,790 but our test car had a few optional extras that ramped up the price, such as satellite navigation (extra $3600), leather seats ($2900), metallic paint ($700), 17-inch alloy wheels ($500) and a 5-disc CD changer (+$590).

The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine is an absolute delight, beautifully mated to a silky-smooth 6-speed automatic transmission.

There’s 100kW of power, but oodles of torque (320Nm) that gives the 308 plenty of pulling power.

On the road, the 308 feels solid and safe. Steering is accurate but a little heavy while the ride is on the firm side for Australian conditions, particularly at low speeds when the suspension falls short of ironing out our more jarring potholes.

Peugeot hopes to sell 3,650 308s this year, with about 65 per cent expected to be the diesel variants.

Backed by its size, superior build quality and individual style, the new Pug is sure to find plenty of fans in Australia.

At this time of the year, cashed-up Queenslanders will be warming to it in a hurry.

The Peugeot 308 is available in a comprehensive range of models:

Petrol engines

• 308 XS 1.6 litre 88kW, 5-speed manual gearbox / 4-speed ‘Tiptronic’ gearbox

• 308 XSE 1.6 litre 88kW, 4-speed ‘Tiptronic’ gearbox

• 308 XSE Turbo 1.6 litre turbo-charged 110kW / 103kW, 5-speed manual gearbox / 4-speed ‘Tiptronic’ gearbox

• 308 XTE 1.6 litre turbo-charged 103kW, 4-speed ‘Tiptronic’ gearboxHDi

Diesel engines (all turbo-charged and fitted with particulate filter as standard)

• 308 XS HDi 1.6 litre 80kW, 5-speed manual gearbox

• 308 XSE HDi 2.0 litre 100kW, 6-speed manual gearbox / 6-speed ‘Tiptronic’ gearbox

• 308 XTE HDi 2.0 litre 100kW, 6-speed ‘Tiptronic’ gearbox



ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo diesel

POWER: 100kW at 4000rpm

TORQUE: 320NM at 2000rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic

ECONOMY: 6.6 litres/100km


PROS: Stylish, roomy, heated seats

CONS: Steering a little heavy, firmish ride, price

BOTTOM LINE: From $35,790