AFTER two months and nearly 2000 kilometres it's time to hand back our test Peugeot 308 Active hatchback.
Our findings? Nice little three-cylinder engine returning good economy, a well-balanced chassis, stylish enough and always comfortable.
If it remained reliable you'd not find much to grumble about during ownership, but at the same time there's not much to excite you either. It's competent without being special.
It's not really a bargain at $27,990 before on-road costs, especially when that puts it in the ballpark of the very impressive VW Golf Comfort, and a few grand more than the decent Touring-spec version of the Mazda3 hatch.
Sales figures reflect this. We bought nearly 20,000 new VW Golfs in 2016 and 36,000 Mazda3s, but only 1237 Peugeot 308s.
That's not to say you should overlook the 308 if shopping for a small hatchback. The Peugeot's sleek styling helps it stand out amongst some mundanely-styled rivals, and the perky three-cylinder engine and lovely balance means if you throw this little Frenchie at a back road it offers charm in spades.
The interior has a good spacious feel to it with supportive cloth seats, a funky angular dashboard and low skinny steering wheel allowing your dials to be in your peripheral vision. This works well, especially with the 308's digital speedo.
There's soft-touch plastics for the doors and dash tops, while rear seat and boot space are excellent for the class. With two small kids the 308 proved more than capable as an everyday family car for us.
A let-down was the touchscreen however. While rivals are embracing smartphone integration like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the 308's feels a generation behind.
But most frustrating is having the climate control only available through the screen. If you climb into a car that's been sat in the sun during a Queensland summer you want instant air conditioning.
It's only possible in the 308 once it's booted up, and not available at all if you're in reverse and the rear camera blocks all other screen functions. The result is a sweaty, annoying wait.
Safety fans will also lament the Pug's lack of autonomous emergency braking (common in 308 rivals), and perhaps less important but worthy of mention are the cup holders - much like all Peugeots - are comically small.
So the 308 is no class leader, but cars are emotional choices.
The 308's competence, style and rarity means it deserves its fans.
The good: Perky and nice sounding three-cylinder engine, safe and balanced chassis, beautiful and against-the-norm body design, innovative dashboard setup.
The not so good: Not as great an all-rounder in terms of value and dynamics as the VW Golf or Mazda3, climate control through the touchscreen can be frustrating, would benefit from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Model: Peugeot 308 Active.
Details: Five-door front-wheel-drive small hatchback.
Engine: 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol with 96kW and 230Nm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Performance 0-100kmh: 9.1-seconds.
Bottom line: $27,990 before on-roads.
Total test kilometres: 1750km.
Fuel economy as tested: 5.9-litres/100km.
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