REVIEW DATE: 29 Mar 2010
The leather-trimmed 308 Verve special edition offers a classy bit of value in the family hatchback sector. Jonathan Crouch checks it out.
If you're looking for a family hatchback able to make you feel, well, a bit special, then Peugeot hope their 308 Allure might just fit the bill. Handsome alloy wheels and full black leather trim allied to a sporty 1.6-litre VTi petrol engine for around £18,000 is a package difficult to beat in the current family hatchback market.
The Allure special edition doesn't come with any of the less powerful petrol engines offered across the 308 line-up - or indeed any of the award-winning HDi diesels. Still, unless you're really hooked on the black pump, the 1.6 VTi should please, with 120bhp at its disposal, enabling it to cover the 0-60mph sprint in a lively 10.8s.
The 308 doesn't rank amongst the sharpest handling family hatchbacks. Instead, it works best for drivers who prioritise comfort, with the engines remaining hushed and the ride reasonably composed on good roads. The car corners quite neatly, resisting body roll but its firm suspension does let you know when the surface is less than pristine.
On open roads, the drive is utterly tactile; you can feel enough, yet not so much that it becomes tiresome, the steering is responsive and there is plenty of feel through the wheel. So much so in fact that the 308 manages to gain your trust almost immediately. The front of the car always seems to go where you point it, feeling well and truly stuck to the tarmac. In truth, Peugeot hatches have always managed to do this and this characteristic is carried on in the 308. Overall, the ride is impressive. The 308 doesn't feel too much like a hatch as it soaks up bumps and camber changes in the road with ease. It may come as a shock to some, but this car is really pretty good. It seems to do all things well, rather than exceeding at any one facet at the expense of another.
The styling of the 308 has a love it or hate it element to it. The long slits of the headlights and that massive frontal air-intake are nothing if not distinctive and the Allure model enhances the look of the exterior with its 18" GT alloy wheels. There's also 'Allure' badging to further underline the car's special edition status.
"Value for money is what the 308 Allure is all about"
The interior takes a sober but classy approach, especially so with this model's smart black leather trim. It feels notably more upmarket than inside of the old 307 and even more spacious. Like all 308 derivatives, this one benefits from expensive looking plastics with the lighter colour touches proving particularly eye-catching. The middle section of the dash slopes down into the centre console bringing its controls closer to the driver and creating a snug cockpit effect but you sit a long way back from the base of the steeply raked windscreen with a huge expanse of dashboard to look out across. This, combined with the 308's long front overhang, may present problems when manoeuvring but the A-pillars, a constant impediment to the driver's view in the 307, are much thinner for improved visibility.
The driving position seemed excellent for my tall frame. You could argue the A pillar gets in the way a little, and somewhat disconcertingly I did find the apex disappearing from view while navigating a roundabout. Otherwise though, it's as impressive to live in as it is to drive. The seats are comfy, offering just enough stability, and they're fully adjustable too. There is a real air of space in the car; the driver never feeling cramped or confined when behind the wheel.
There's also plenty of places for your bits and pieces in side pockets and alike, although some of the glove box space has been stolen by the airbag. The interior plastics are solid, and there is no excess of joins that creak as you go round a bend. Another surprise is the rear leg room, which, while not excessive, is more than enough when your likely passengers are the kids. The boot is also large enough for most, although I would fear for a mother with buggies and shopping to transport. There are though, seven airbags to keep everyone safe.
Value for money is what the 308 Allure is all about but how does it shape up? Well, in addition to the items already mentioned, it features the front fog lights, air-conditioning, CD stereo, remote central locking, trip computer and electric front windows included on more ordinary 308 derivatives. The car is only available in five-door guise.
Overall? Well, Peugeot's 308 isn't a car that will make a big driveway statement but it's amongst the three or four Family Hatches that you must consider before buying a car in this segment. Other Family Hatches may be sharper to drive. Or faster. Or return better residuals. But none offers a markedly superior all-round package and if we had to use such a car over longer distances, the Peugeot's keys are the ones we'd plump for every time. In Allure guise, it also offers a great deal for the money. And that could be all the extra incentive you really need to try one.
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|For 308 ALLURE|
|OVERALL||7.4 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||7|
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