2018 Peugeot 308 Touring Review
Isaac Bober’s 2018 Peugeot 308 Touring Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The 308 Touring is a great alternative to an SUV with a big boot, roomy, classy interior and a refined drive.
2018 Peugeot 308 Touring
Price $37,990+ORC Warranty five-year warranty, unlimited kilometre Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Power 110kW at 3750rpm Torque 370Nm at 2000rpm Transmission six-speed automatic Drive front-wheel drive Dimensions 4845mm (L) 1563mm (W) 1472mm (H) 2730mm (WB) Boot Space 625 litres Spare Space Saver Fuel Tank 53 litres Thirst 4.6L/100km
WAGONS ARE too-often overlooked by Aussie families as they flock to the alter of the SUV. But, in most cases, SUVs are less roomy for occupants, have smaller boots, and are much worse to drive than station wagons. Take the 308 Touring which lists here at $37,990+ORC and is only available with one engine, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel…but it’s the boot space of 660 litres and extra rear seat legroom over the hatchback that buyers should be checking out.
What is the Peugeot 308 Touring?
Simple. It’s the wagon version of the hatchback which we’ve praised, particularly in GT and GTi form. The wheelbase was stretched 110mm and the rear overhang is 220mm longer and that means you get more passenger room and storage space.
Local buyers are at the mercy of European tastes in this sort of vehicle which continue to be dominated by diesel engines, and in OS markets, there are several different diesel engines available for the 308 Touring. In Australia, however, we get the big banger 2.0-litre turbo-diesel.
In 2016, the 308 range in Australia went through a cull from 17 variants down to six models, this saw the Access, Allure Premium and GTi 250 variants discontinued. The 308 Touring was briefly available here with a petrol engine but this was dropped. It’s worth noting that when the 308 went on-sale here in 2014, interest in the Touring variant exceeded expectations by 300% with sales of the Touring making up around 35% of all 308 sales. Back then.
Fast forward to now, and Peugeot which is rebuilding itself in Australia after moving to a new importer (Inchcape) recently announced a five-year warranty for all MY18 plated vehicles to build consumer confidence in the French brand.
What’s the interior like?
If you’re a trainspotter you’ll have noticed a few key tweaks for the refreshed 2018 308 which is a new grille and LED daytime running lights standard across the range. It also saw new active safety systems added as standard which we’ll get to later in the review, while inside it saw a tweaked infotainment unit with improved graphics; let’s start with this…
If you’ve read any of our other Peugeot reviews from yore you’ll have noticed a common theme and that is frustration with the infotainment unit. While all-new models now team paino-style keys with the touchscreen for quick shortcut functionality that’s missing on the 308.
Instead, the screen is capacitive and this is all very cool. When the car is stationary. When it’s moving, you really do have to take your eyes off the road for too long to hover and hit the correct virtual button. There are shortcut keys at the side of the screen, but they too can be tricky to hit when you’re driving, especially when you’re trying to adjust the climate control – I found adjusting the fan or temperature particularly frustrating and fiddly when on the move. So, please, Peugeot, add some hard shortcut keys to the infotainment for the next-gen 308. Moving on from that gripe.
What I can’t fault is the feature richness of the system. Although for me, the fact it offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard is the real stand-out, getting access to the reduced structure of your smartphone is very easy and it connects in seconds; and if needed, you can bump out to adjust the car’s functions via the capacitive shortcut buttons on the side of the screen.
As you can see in the photo, the screen has a very matte finish and while my photo doesn’t really do it justice, the 9.7-inch screen is just about 100% resistant to glare and that’s even with the sun blind retracted on the gigantic panoramic glass roof.
Peugeot calls its interior i-Cockpit and it claims the aim of the design is to focus on the driver and putting them in greater contact with the road. But it only partly works. See, and we’ve commented on this in recent reviews of the 3008 and 5008 that the small steering wheel is an ergonomic nightmare in that it gets in the way of the speedo and other vital displays depending on how short or tall you are. For me, I found I had to lower the steering wheel, which I never felt totally comfortable with, just to be able to read the speed I was driving at.
Beyond this, though, the interior is very, very special feeling and offers a design quality like nothing else in the segment. The designers have pushed the boat out, the materials are excellent and the build quality is impressive, and so you, and I, shouldn’t let a couple of design quirks overshadow what is a properly impressive dashboard design.
The front seats are okay. I found the seat base wasn’t quite long enough for me, or maybe because it’s curved, to keep from becoming fidgety behind the wheel after longer stints (100km), but despite the lack of length in the seat base, the seat is comfortable. There’s good vision around the vehicle from behind the wheel, which is partly because of its flat top and the low profile of the dashboard.
The huge panoramic glass roof makes for a very airy interior, especially for those in the back, but I can’t help but think the sunshade is just too thin for an Aussie summer. Admittedly, I could be talking out of my behind on this; I tested the Peugeot last week and while the weather was warm it wasn’t overly hot, still, after an hour or two in the sun, the cabin did feel quite hot and the air-con had to be cranked to cool, and for longer than expected, to cool the car. The roof can’t be opened; maybe if it could this would alleviate some of my concerns about the sun shade…
Over in the back, the 308 Touring benefits from the longer wheelbase by adding much needed legroom for those in the bac – the hatchback version isn’t overly endowed with rear seat legroom. Legroom for anyone sat in the middle seat in the back isn’t amazing but luckily the shape of the seat is close to the two outboard seats and so an adult can sit in there for a short trip while borrowing foot room from the other two footwells.
The panoramic roof adds to the feeling of space. There are no rear air vents or charging points for those in the back. There are ISOFIX mounts for the two outboard seats and top tether anchors across the seat backs. The seats are 60:40 split fold and can be folded down from the boot at the pull of a lever.
Raise the tailgate which is light thanks to its thermoplastic construction and there’s 625 litres of storage space. Drop the rear seats which just about fold flat thanks to the fact the seat bases lower slightly as the seat back folds forward, and you get 1740 litres when loaded to the roof; something you should never do without a cargo barrier. The boot shape is nice and square and the load lip is minimal which makes loading and unloading easy. Raise the boot floor and there’s a space saver spare tucked away. In all, this is one of the most practical boot spaces you’ll find in this segment.
What’s it like on the road?
The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel makes 110kW at 3700rpm and 370Nm of torque at 2000rpm, this is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels only. Fuel consumption is a claimed combined 4.6L/100km and the fuel tank is 53 litres.
The 308 Touring isn’t a hot hatch but it can be driven with a certain level of enthusiasm, and with peak torque arriving at 2000rpm progress is smooth and assured. But it isn’t totally fuss-free, at around town speeds, while there’s decent grunt, the six-speed automatic can be a little clumsy, especially when coming to a stop or when taking off; you’ll get a jolting shift in both those situations.
Once this 2.0L turbo-diesel is up and running though the transmission fades into the background with a shift quality that impresses. Indeed, the 308 Touring feels at its best when its cruising at more than 60km/h and even when I loaded it down with four big blokes and all our soccer kit, there was an effortlessness to its acceleration.
And there’s minimal engine noise too once up and running. Thumb the starter button and the engine chatters a touch before settling to a soft idle. One thing that was noticed, however, was the road noise creeping into the cabin at highway speeds with those in the back seat struggling slightly to hear what those in the front were saying. Beyond the road noise, though, there’s little wind or engine noise even when sinking your right foot.
The ride is good with the suspension, despite the slightly longer wheelbase, still capable of weeding out any unwanted body movements. The 17-inch alloys make for a firmer ride than you might expect and the thing can feel a little bumpy at around town speeds, but it becomes much smoother as the speed rises; almost as if the dampers are tuned for a high-speed response.
The small steering wheel take some getting used to in that a small steering input generates a bigger than expected response. But, settle into the thing’s groove and this is a car that’s handling is right up at the top of the segment. There’s minimal body roll through corners and the front-end is decidedly pointy, a sensation that’s heightened by the smaller steering wheel.
While the throttle pedal offers a nice progressive action, the brake pedal is a little sharper in its response and with no feel at all; just ‘bang’ brakes on. This is a sensation, of course, that diminishes with familiarity.
What about safety?
The 308 Touing, like the rest of the range, offers a five-star ANCAP rating. It’s also standard with an impressive level of active safety features, and one of the most impressive of these is the active high-beam assist which Peugeot calls, Smartbeam assist. The function is quick to respond, quicker than I would be, although it does take a little bit of trust to let the car control when the high-beam should be on and off.
Beyond this, it offers six airbags, driver attention alert, speed sign recognition and recommendation which is excellent, tyre pressure monitoring, rolling code immobiliser, cruise control and speed limited, hill start assist, keyless entry and push button start, reversing camera and city park functionality, heated door mirrors, rain sensing wipers and parking sensors, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and AEB.
So, what do we think?
The Peugeot 308 Touring is an excellent example of why Australians should be looking at a station wagon rather than an SUV – it’s a very roomy vehicle, made to feel more so thanks to the standard-fit panoramic glass roof. For the money, the equipment levels are impressive, and there’s an excellent safety package as standard, too. There a couple of ergonomic quirks that would probably fade into the background with familiarity and the drive experience is pretty good.