This can only be a Peugeot…
You eagled eyed car spotter, you… Yes, it’s the new 308 that arrives here in October after first making its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September. Known internally at T7, it’s taken four years and 4000 people to develop, and in a bid to compact its reliability record, each car will undergo an 1800-point quality check on the production line.
Hmmm. Not sure about the looks. Am I alone?
Not really. It may not be beautiful but British designer Keith Ryder’s creation is certainly distinctive – and that’s what Peugeot wants. The idea is to create cars that are immediately identifiable firstly as a Peugeot, and that distinctiveness doesn't necessarily have anything to do with beauty or grace. Hence the gaping mouth, vast surfboard-sized headlamps, protruding ‘Lion’s Nose’ bonnet and high-seated faux-MPV driving position that all create visual links with the other models in the Peugeot family. That snout and gaping grille come straight from the mid-engined 908 RC concept car. Sportier models get the protruding nose while less powerful models gets a more restrained version.
Is it much different in size to the 307?
No, because much of the 307’s mechanical architecture is carried over largely unchanged. The 308 is within a few inches in every direction of its predecessor. So no surprises there. But open the door and the 308 starts to redeem itself. Every manufacturer harps on about the massive leaps and giant bounds it has made in improving the quality of its cabins, and at the 308’s unveil, Peugeot was no exception. But this time there’s a decent amount of truth in the spin. The 308’s interior – project lead by Karine Caillard – does look exceptionally good, with all the plastics feel soft and padded, all the chrome-ringed dials looking expensively watch-like and all the controls operating with a smooth and damped action. Head and leg room are generous and elbow and shoulder room space even more so. You even get one of those scent dispensers with the choice of Spring Flower, Exotic Vanilla, Cocoon Lodge and the oddly pornographic sounding Wood Sensation.
Less of that nonsense, fool – tell me about the engines
Headline news is the arrival of an advanced diesel-electric hybrid that arrives late next 2008. With stop-start technology, and energy recuperation, it’s claimed to better the economy and C02 emissions of full hybrids. Otherwise the engine line-up will encompass the current line-up of PSA-BMW developed petrol and diesel fourpots. It arrives with 90 and 110bhp versions of the current 1.6 HDi diesel and two petrols - a new 95bhp 1.4-litre and a 120bhp 1.6-litre. Expect green biofuel models to feature later next year, too. Prices should mirror those of the erstwhile 307, starting at £12,250 for the entry-level 1.4, and the familiar Urban, S, Sport, SE and GT badges are carried over. Expect six airbags, air-con, a raft of safety and stability acronyms, a decent MP3-compatible stereo and alloy wheels as standard.
I guess it's going to be popular
If you’re a company car driver, expect you fleet manager to try and foist a 308 on you – up to 60% of the 308 sales will be absorbed by the fleet market. Peugeot UK reckon it will shift around 9000 by the end of the year and a massive 40,000 next year when both three and five door will be on sale. Big numbers, but then Peugeot did sell some three million 307 models in its lifetime. And expect a raft of derivatives – an estate, a metal-roofed coupe-cabriolet and a three-door model - to follow over the next 18 months. The existing 307 versions will continue to sell until they are replaced with 308-based models