RENOWNED French car manufacturer Peugeot has just received a massive sales boost following the selection of their smart new 308 hatchback as European Car of the Year 2014 beating competitors from the likes of German prestige manufacturers Mercedes-Benz and BMW writes Bryan Longworth.
It is the fourth time in the past 45 years that Peugeot has won the top title and after road testing the 308 in the same week that it was voted top car I agree that the judges have got it right with the fabulous French hatchback.
I state this because not all previous winners of the prestigeous Car of the Year title have gone on to cover themselves with glory as some eventually sank into obscurity but I am sure that the new 308 will remain a showroom favourite because it has everything going for it.
For starters Peugeot stylists have done an excellent job with the well balanced and eye catching styling and then there are special features such as the innovative cockpit plus a very enjoyable driving experience and engines with record low emissions.
On test was the top spec 308 Feline powered by a 1.6-litre diesel engine with a six speed manual gearbox with a top speed of 118mph, a zero to 62mph time of 11.9 seconds, a combined fuel consumption of 74.3mpg, car tax free CO2 emissions of 100g/km and costing £21,745 - 308 prices start at around £14,500.
The driving experience and handling of the 308 provided very enjoyable motoring which was made better with the well furnished interior and its high tech controls with the 9.7” multi function touchscreen that is also used for functions such as radio and heating as well as doubling up as a very effective rear camera - I found the touchscreen took some getting used to but thereafter was an effective control panel and did away with the need for most knobs and switches.
I was not too happy with the instrument binnacle in the Peugeot 208 being above the steering wheel which tended to obscure part of it but although the 308 has the same layout the steering wheel did not affect my view of the instruments and I liked the facility for providing a digital speed and speed limit display as well as the conventional speedometer.
The 470-litre boot provides plenty of storage space with a spare wheel underneath and there is an abundance of standard kit with smart 18-inch alloy wheels that look really good but beware of kerbs with the low profile tyres.
I found it hard to find much to criticise on the new 308 which has provided Peugeot with just the right car to take on competition like the VW Golf and Ford Focus and the French company now has a top car in this market sector in every way because the new 308 is one of the best cars Peugeot has ever produced.
My only reservation concerned the touch screen because when wanting to adjust the heating temperature I found it rather distracting when driving especially at night and would have preferred a knob or switch to change the temperature settings.
The new 308 marks Peugeot’s intention of going more upmarket with their range and this policy is already paying off with a higher proportion of customers going for the upper trim levels.
First Peugeot to win the Car of the Year title in 1969 was the 504 which was my first Peugeot test car and I was really impressed with that model just as I have been with the new 308 that is a very worthy COTY winner and which will go on to give the company a major sales boost this year and in years to come.
My verdict: A very worthy award winner.
Model: New Peugeot 308 hatchback.
Engine: 1.6-litre diesel.
Output: 115bhp @ 3600rpm.
Transmission: Six speed manual.
Top speed: 118mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 11.9 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 74.3mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 100g/km.