Eurobrands Distributor Inc. (EDI), the official Philippine distributor of Peugeot, launched on November 24 its compact 308 at the Marriott Hotel Manila Grand Ballroom in Pasay City.
The unveiling was a highlight of the Soirée Beaujolais 2015, where Peugeot was the top sponsor. The Soirée Beaujolais is an annual food and wine festival of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines, a non-profit organization established in 1988 to enhance business relations between the Philippines and France. The event showcased France’s finest cheeses, meats and wines, many bottles of which were flown in from the country’s Beaujolais region.
Available as an estate
The 308 can be bought either as a five-door hatchback or, rather surprisingly, in a predominantly sedan and sport utility vehicle (SUV) country like the Philippines, a five-door station wagon (SW). The model debuted in Europe in 2013 and won the Car of the Year 2014 award at the Geneva International Motor Show.
In the Philippines, the hatchback competes somewhat directly with the recently refreshed Ford Focus EcoBoost hatchback and the Mazda3 SkyActiv 2.0 R. It is also up against top-specification, C-segment sedans like the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the Toyota Corolla Altis 2.0 V and the Honda Civic 2.0 EL. Meanwhile, the SW presently has no direct competitor.
“We would like to focus our efforts in providing a body style that we believe can cater to the lifestyle of our active customers,” said EDI president Glen Dasig in an e-mail to Fast Times on the SW variant. “Regardless of competition or availability in the market, we are confident that the station wagon model will be widely accepted by our target customers.”
Simple, chic styling
Unlike the performance-oriented, body-kitted styling of the Focus, the 308 takes a sleeker approach. Subtle bulges on the hood accentuate the triangular front headlights that flank the company’s signature trapezoidal chrome grill. The look is nicely mirrored by the larger trapezoidal lower grill that is flanked by air intakes.
Down the side, a line swoops up from the front door all the way to the LED taillights, which curve around the character line instead of stopping it (a design feature first seen in the smaller 208 hatchback). This makes the rather ordinary rear end look less plain, with higher-specification models getting black, diffuser-style lower cladding with twin chrome exhaust tips.
Centralized 9.7-inch touchscreen
The elegant simplicity continues in the interior, which has a center console almost bereft of buttons. This is because all variants of the 308 come with a 9.7-inch touchscreen that controls the car’s infotainment and air-con functions. With a polished metal surround, it dominates the dashboard with the massive air-con vents. The interface was easy to use, but the screen’s responsiveness needs some improvement.
Additionally, the instrument cluster puts two podded gauges under a larger pod, with the multi-function display in the center. In a nod to historically quirky, French car design, the tachometer runs counter-clockwise.
Powered by either petrol or diesel engines
All 308s come highly equipped with front, front-side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, front and rear parking sensors, an alarm with immobilizer, rear-seat Isofix mountings for child restraints, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, electrically adjustable and folding side mirrors, an electric parking brake, dual-zone climate control, an electrochromatic rear-view mirror, cruise control and an Arkamys audio system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
The 308 range starts with the P1.490-million Allure hatchback, which has 16-inch alloy wheels and a fabric interior. This is the only model powered by the 1.6-liter, twin-cam, 16-valve, turbocharged-and-intercooled, direct-injection, 4-cylinder THP petrol engine that produces 150 horsepower and 240 Newton-meters of torque (30 horsepower less than the Focus but with the same torque output), mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox with sequential-shift function.
Next is the P1.690-million Allure SW, which has 17-inch alloy wheels, a fabric-alcantara interior and manual lumbar support for the driver and passenger seats. This is powered by a 1.6-liter, twin-cam, 16-valve, common-rail-direct-injection, four-cylinder HDi turbodiesel that produces 120 horsepower and 300 Nm of torque. This is also mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox with a sequential-shift function.
At the top of the range are the diesel-only GT Line hatchback and SW, both priced at P1.890 million. These come with a subtle body kit, 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, leather interior with red stitching, heated front seats and an electric driver’s seat with memory function, electric lumber support and, a first in a C-segment car, massage function.