Driving Peugeot’s 308 GT around Auckland promised to be like catching up with an old friend who’s just arrived from Paris. Ten years ago, I had a Peugeot 306, so I thought I knew what to expect and the only word for the look of the new car is: luscious. It was a stunning white, similar to the Double White Pointer in Karen Walker’s Resene paint range, but with a subtle pearl metallic finish. It’s set off with nice, dark-tinted back, side and tailgate windows and those great wheels.
The style is understated, not showy, but racy and clean – timeless yet consistent with the Peugeot look of the past. Let’s face it, when it comes to style, the French are rock stars.
The interior continues those soft, clean lines: the dashboard is simple; the steering wheel is small and (again) racy, in perforated black leather; the bucket seats, in soft black Nappa leather with red stitching, make me feel nice and secure – like a rally driver. The red and black stitching is carried through to the door panels, gear stick and floor mats.
Peugeot makes driving easy. There’s keyless entry and a button to start the car; a large colour touchscreen opens when the car starts; all controls can be worked from the steering wheel. You quickly get used to the wipers, lights and indicators being on the “European” side of the wheel.
The 308GT is full of safety features, including collision risk alert (screen prompts warn if you’re too close to a vehicle in front or behind), six airbags and ABS braking, electronic braking assist and stability control. And the car automatically locks while driving.
The boot easily accommodates everything that a normal family of four would need,
and the car feels more roomy inside than its mid-sized 4253 x 1863 exterior dimensions suggest. The back seat folds down.
Automatic air conditioning and heated seats are fantastic for controlling your own climate as a driver or passenger.
As owner of a design company, I drive around Auckland on my own for work, visiting homes and commercial buildings, visiting suppliers and manufacturers. Over the week I had the Peugeot, I had plenty of willing passengers – friends, teenage sons, teenage sons’ friends and my husband.
On motorways and around town, the 308 GT is very comfortable. It’s a solid, safe car that sits on the road beautifully. You feel environmental: it’s diesel, and when you stop at the lights, it stops too, another eco feature.
But there’s awesome power under the bonnet. It’s fast when it needs to be, and there’s no lag between foot-down and speed. Braking is equally efficient, and the optional paddles are very cool for controlling the gears, if you want to. Hit the button for Sport mode, and there’s a great sound and power boost.
It’s easy to park, although visibility out the back window is limited. What does it matter when you are assisted by such a huge, colour reversing screen that has guiding lines and sensors beeping if you are close to anything?
After a week, I did not want to hand the keys back! It may be French but it is the perfect expression of the Japanese interior design philosophy of shibui – the more you look at it and use it, the more impressive it is.
And how does it rate against my memories of the older cousin? That car was boxier. This is softer: stylish, safe … and fast.
To book a test drive of the Peugeot 308GT, visit peugeot.co.nz/308.
Peugeot 308 GT
• Engine 2.0-litre diesel
• Fuel consumption 4.0 litre/100km
• Power 133kW
• Torque 400Nm
• Front-wheel drive automatic
• 0-100km/h 8.4 seconds
• LED lights
• Rain-sensing wipers
• Automatic headlights
• Dual zone A/C
• Heated seats