Bojour, Comment ça va? (Hello, how’s it going?)

Admittedly, I’ve always been a big movie buff and so when the brand Peugeot is mentioned, I can’t help but to reminisce about the time when I was blown away by the popular 1998 French action-comedy movie, TAXI (Directed by Gerard Pires), that featured the Peugeot 406 sedan. This movie was remade in the U.S., but felt lacking in comparison. In short, the original French version was ‘tres magnifique!’

Thanks to NAZA Group Sdn Bhd, we were able to receive the 308 Turbo for our test review. Sadly this version didn’t come with the panoramic roof. It has to be said that the styling of this car isn’t really spectacular, but it does make you feel as if you’re in the presence of an intellect.

If its the first time taking at look at a 308 ‘PUG’ hatchback, you may think that the front-end might have a strong resemblance to that of an elephant seal that’s grinning from ear to ear. But with the bonnet being made of lightweight aircraft-grade aluminium and a Coefficient of Drag (Cd) of only 0.29 and a 5-star Euro NCAP rating, you know this hatch already deserves a little more respect than that.

When looking at those sharp headlights that extend from the bumper almost all the way up towards the top of the wheel arches, you can’t help but note that this car may possess some potential. However, we feel that that this hatch definitely possesses more potency than potential.

Stepping inside this turbocharged PUG, we noted that certain parts of the interior’s plastic felt visually cheap, especially where the dashboard meets the windscreen. In addition, we noted that there were no visual indicators as to whether or not the doors were locked / unlocked, except for a small button that has an orange LED, which was hardly visible during the day.

Lay eyes upon the centre console and instrument cluster, and all those gripes become muted because everything’s nicely organised and the ambiance is relaxing with a nice mix of black and grey. The look and feel of certain dials with metal accents don’t come across as cheap.There’s also some chrome on the gear stick as well as the gear stick console which houses the ‘Sport’ and ‘Winter’ mode buttons, which do pick up some glare during mid-day. However, the feel and ergonomics of it all are by far innovative and exudes high quality to say the least.

Being a hatch, we’d half-expect to have relatively less storage space, but when we popped open the boot, we were well astonished to find a gaping 430 litre cavity. We felt that the design helped loading and unloading as well. Undeniably, this boot could easily fit me inside there – and quite comfortably too.

Headroom, comfort and overall cabin spaciousness is well in abundance and very noticeably clear from the start. The steering-wheel has grooves at the back of it to place your fingers for improved grip. Everything you touch gives you the sensation of class. Even though the seats were slightly firm, it was still relatively comfortable on long-hauls and ultimately impressive.

It was very easy for myself to find a comfortable and suitable driving position thanks to the height adjustable seats and manually adjustable steering wheel reach and rake. Peugeot’s attention to detail is well commended in our opinion and especially unique.

Packaged with cruise control, dual zone climate-controls (with built-in air freshener – front only), rear air conditioning vents, Stability Control (ESP) and 6 airbags, this hatch is nothing but impressive.

Range, trip counter and fuel usage is shown on a LCD display, which lies in the middle of the dashboard, including individual climate control LCDs for temperature readouts. Though during night drives, the orange LCD seems to reflect off the front windscreen. Thankfully there’s a button marked: ‘Dark’ to turn it off.

I was seated at the left-rear without a safety belt.

There’s even a small display above the the rear-view mirror to indicate specifically which passenger doesn’t have their seatbelt on, as well as which door hasn’t been closed properly.

Left: Cruise Control

Right: In-Car-Entertainment Controls

Rather than cloning steering-wheel designs from other manufacturers by placing them on the steering-wheel itself, cruise and audio controls are discreetly located behind it instead, giving it a clean and uncluttered look. Though the audio controls may require some getting used to.

So enough with the walk-around and all about the interior, what’s more concerning is the way it behaves on the road.

In general, this car is easy to drive right out of the box. The gear shifts are smooth and precise for the 4-speed Porsche gearbox. The steering is slightly weighted but still, manoeuvring this car is rather effortless. But looking at its 4.27m long, 1.82m wide and 1.5m tall body, we still wonder how this hatch still feels nimble around town.

What interested me was how well this car handles under heavy braking. Its poise was excellent, even though it had a prominent nose. When conducting an abrupt stop (ABS kicking in), the hazard lights would automatically engage after which the driver would be required to disengage it manually.

When throwing this car around corners on the Air Kolam roads with Sport mode engaged, the car’s suspension was superb, the turn is was crisp, accurate and nothing short of confidence inspiring.

The rigidity of the chassis definitely provided a great first-point to allow this car’s handling to be well tuned. Although it felt well planted and nimble, the steering does seem somewhat sedated, which indicated that the engineers still kept comfort in mind.

The Prince engine was smooth all the way although much of the engine’s screams could be heard around 4,500rpm till red-line. Up and down-shifts under heavy load was very accurate and swift for a 4-speed automatic.

When in manual mode, the engine won’t allow for down-shifting till the rev-counter comes down to 4,000rpm and automatically blips the throttle to place the engine’s piston speed in the correct rev range and power band to prevent the car’s nose from diving too much under engine-braking, which could upset the car’s balance. But even in those conditions, we believe that it would take more than that to try and upset this PUG ‘s handling.

The engine’s full potential is felt at midrange (3,000rpm) and at that point it was hard to believe that the engine’s displacement was only 1.6L. Its 240Nm of torque provided a lot of the enjoyment that this car had to offer.

All in, I’d have to say that this 308 Turbo had a lot of thoughts going into it and it came out well blended, with heaps of attention to detail.

Peugeot’s slogan: “Engineered to be Enjoyed” really blooms in the 308 Turbo. And for those of you who are looking for a car to upgrade to, do consider this model as well. Because at RM113,888, this car is well deserved to be in the list considering what it has to offer.


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