Thursday, 3 September 2009

Peugeot 308 (5-door) test part deux: the Turbo version

Apparently, the Malaysian car market is at dearth of proper (officially sold) turbo cars that this Pug seemed heaven sent. More so at quite unbelievable prices of RM112k (initially) to RM114k now. With larger and better looking 17" 5-spoke alloys shod with expensive ContiSportContact3 tyres, climate control A/C, a nice exhaust-gas driven compressor to complement direct injection, plus recently added panoramic glass roof, this Peugeot with a "BMW engine" or "Mini Cooper engine" (BMW-PSA to be precise) must be the default choice for many, seeing that it is the middle child, sandwiched between the sub-RM100k VTi and near-RM160k GT THP175.

I have always been a sucker for soft-touch dashboards, whatever the class or segment. The slab found in the 308 range has hit my (equally) soft spot, albeit a bit too clinical in design i.e. typical Frenchie style. Ditto the chronometer like instruments. Some say it's a bit too old fashioned in the face of LEDs, Optitrons and the likes. I absolutely love the glow behind the instrument needles and those fine fonts embedded within fully illuminated face et al.

Countlessly , I have mentioned how much I dig those soft yet comfy and supportive seats in the VTi n GT. Strangely, the Turbo' ones get a little bigger but too spineless especially around the edges aka lateral flanks. More shapely versus the VTi's but not as comfortable or hugging, though just a tad so.

There's no mistaking the turbo boost here, since you can actually hear the turbine whine upon quickly lifting off the gas pedal after some amount of revving. With a torque of 240Nm lugging the hatch along, it was definitely a better get-up and go. Gaining mid band speed was also a breeze, thereby hastening overtaking manouvres and delivering spades of confidence along with good body control. But somehow, the overall drive experience came across as being busier than the VTi. Likely due to a missing 5th ratio on the gearbox which was more perceptible here, in the sea of higher and wider torque band.

Ride comfort and suspension pliancy seemed lost too in the crowd of the cheaper VTi and even the GT. Being a little too firm and harsh at times, which even the 18" shod GT don't seem to be bothered with. However, the upside to this is excellent tracking composure, nice incisive lane changing and feeling of axles plantedness (due to excellent rubbers?) exhibited by the 308 Turbo. In fact, on two trips up to Bukit Tinggi and back, the 308 Turbo seemed to have aced even my '07 Colt Turbo with original Ralliart "hard-setting" suspension. That's Peugeot suspension tuning wizardry working for you, I guess.

Slightly biggish steering wheel aside and a wee-bit synthetic light feel, the overall performance of this modern-engined 308 cannot be faulted. And yes, my kids love it on other outings too, they didn't get flung around unnecessarily or got nauseated on even longer interstate jaunts. So those with a young family, you don't need to assasinate the boy-racer in you. Boot space is pretty decent too, but of course the ubiquitous Vios/City or Civic/Altis for that matter have rumps that can carry more cadavers. Still personally, I wish this Turbo had that manual 6-speed auto from the GT or the latest 6-speed auto 'box from the upcoming 308CC. And perhaps a little more of that Lion's magic sprinkling on the suspension damping for more suppleness.

Related posts:

Driven: Peugeot 308 VTi
Peugeot 308 VTi & Turbo launch in Malaysia
Peugeot 308 GT in Malaysia now
All-new Peugeot 308

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