Godzilla storms in, but the Peugeot 308 bravely stands its ground.
First published in the December 2015 issue of Wheels magazine, Australia’s most experienced and most trusted car magazine since 1953.
IN MOST minds, the definition of a Grand Tourer is a car that reels in the miles with effortless ease.
With me abroad on assignment for much of the month, it was a relentless roster of country runs in the hands of my partner for the hard-working 308 Active, sometimes with three others on board, and always carrying geological paraphernalia. And, just like a Japanese car, the lack of shake, rattle or roll continued to surprise and delight.
The arrival of a Nissan GT-R test car on my return, to coincide with annual leave, did threaten to stir up the peace and tranquillity, with its 404kW 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6. The AWD supercar could have been expected to relegate France’s finest C-segment hatch to the sidelines, but the Tochigi tearaway complemented, rather than eclipsed, our trusty 1.2 turbo triple long-termer.
Initially, CWY-07A remained in stasis beneath our borrowed Apollo Bay getaway’s carport, after ably schlepping over a week’s worth of gear and Romy the Lady Labrador Retriever as our holiday workhorse. But after a frenetic few days of roaring along the many glorious little B and C roads of western Victoria, which the GT-R conquered with amazing insouciance, I actually longed for the 308’s light and breezy touch.
While the Nissan carved though corners like it was pushed along playfully by the Hand of God, the Pug glided through, seemingly hovering along with the effortless comfort that defines the better GTs. Steering that is sharp but never nervous, a ride that is firm but always smooth, the Active shrunk around me tightly, just like a driver’s car should. With such interactivity and control, I imagine this is what the original Golf GTI would have felt like back in the late ’70s.
Later on, a wrong turn and my desire to keep on driving led me through some deserted gravel roads, and here the Pug displayed yet another talent. Aided by that superb low-wheel driving position and reactive chassis, the 308 revels in the dirt, the front wheels digging in as the rear slides out gently for some fab rally-style fun. Unperturbed by the many and varied rutted surfaces, the suspension’s ability to soak up all and sundry was just icing on the cliche.
I spent the final couple of days hopping between the two, certain that I was definitely in the company of two great modern yet disparate grand tourers.
Got a space-time continuum that needs compressing? Godzilla is your weapon. For everything else, 308 shines.
LIKE most non-premium vehicles, the 308’s cruise control works fine on a flat road surface, but struggles to keep the vehicle travelling at the set speed when a downhill gradient comes into play, with the pace picking up dramatically as the slope’s angle intensifies. In speed-camera infested Australia, you can’t always rely on the cruise control to save your licence, so beware. Why can’t more manufacturers follow BMW’s example of engineering braked cruise control systems?
Read part 5 of our Peugeot 308 long-term car review.
Peugeot 308 Active
Price as tested: $26,890
Part 6: 2308km @ 6.5L/100km
Overall: 8768km @ 6.6L/100km
Date acquired: March 2015