The 308 has a small engine but unexpectedly good performance
This number for a good time TINY DYNAMO: Its good blend of handling and comfort allows the new Peugeot 308 to skim over rough roads while displaying good poise in fast corners.

If the new Peugeot 308 had any skin or teeth, they would definitely be involved in its COE categorisation. Because with its turbocharged petrol engine producing 129 hp, the 308 slots neatly into Category A with just one hp to spare.

And it is this 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine that has to be the most intriguing aspect of the second-generation 308 (unlike previous models, Peugeot retains the last digit of the nameplate instead of increasing it). Being small means it is a frugal unit, promising to consume as little as 5.1 litres per 100 km under the combined cycle, or an amazing 19.6 km per litre.

But despite its size, it is able to muster up 230 Newton-metres of torque, delivered to the front wheels via a conventional six-speed automatic transmission.

"1,200 cc" may not sound like much but the 308 will make most think again. Floor the accelerator and this tiny dynamo goes to work with minimal turbo lag. Press the S button on the lower centre console and the performance becomes even livelier with delayed upshifts.

The gear lever can also shift manually, using the more intuitive forward-nudge-to-change-down logic, but selecting D is more than good enough for this box.

It is hard to believe that three cylinders with a displacement of 400 cc each are capable of such torque and smoothness but a low kerb weight of 1,150 kg helps.

At about 140 kg less than its predecessor, this lightweight 308 hatchback, or the Peugeot 308 1.2 Puretech Turbo EAT6 5-Door to be precise, also has attributes other than good performance and fuel economy. One of them is ride comfort.

While the previous 308 had a firmer ride, this new 308 is slightly comfier but without the floaty pliancy of some French models.

Its good blend of handling and comfort allows it to skim over rough roads while displaying good poise in fast corners. But it does feel a bit light when doing the latter, with its rear torsion beam suspension probably contributing to this.

The well-weighted steering has wonderful feedback and its size plays a big role in its perception of agility. This tiny flat-bottomed steering wheel was first seen in the Peugeot 208 supermini and is one of the three elements of the French carmaker's i-Cockpit interior concept. The other two are the raised instrument binnacle and the 9.7-inch touchscreen in the middle. The tachometer in the former is unique for being calibrated anti-clockwise. This is to ensure it will be readable whatever the height of the diminutive steering wheel.

Together with the soft-touch dashboard and minimalist single button centre console (inspired by high-end hi-fi), the 308 interior is surprisingly classy, with the leather on the steering wheel and most of the metal trim nice to look at and touch.

At 4.25 metres in length with a 2,620 mm wheelbase, the new 308 is actually very slightly shorter than its predecessor even though it is visually lengthened with a 10 mm increase in the wheelbase. The styling has Teutonic overtones and gone is the Gallic quirkiness of old, replaced by a welcome European distinctiveness.

There are two trim levels - Active and Allure. The latter has more equipment, and given the low kerb weight, this affects emissions, consumption and zero to 100 kmh acceleration figures. The Allure also costs S$12,000 more, for nicer stuff such as keyless entry and start, GPS and reverse camera, a blind spot monitoring system, automatic parking, front sports seats and a panoramic glass roof, among others.

But with or without these extras, the new Peugeot 308 should still be an amazing little number.

CAR INFORMATION

Peugeot 308 1.2 PureTech EAT6 Allure 17

Price

:POA

Engine Type

:

3-cylinder in-line 12-valve DOHC PureTech Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1,199 cc

Horsepower

:

129 bhp

Torque

:

230 Nm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A) EAT6

Acceleration

:

10.7 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

200 km/h