A Beautiful French Lion for under RM100K

Published on April 15th, 2010

The Peugeot 308 VTi is a worthy successor to the Peugeot 307, and a test drive over a weekend together with a lovely local actress Diana Rusdi was all that was needed to confirm this. Diana joined the Traffic crew in testing out the Peugeot 308VTi not only because she’s friends with the Traffic crew, but also because she likes cars.

When Diana was informed by the Traffic crew that the Peugeot 308VTi was being reviewed, she made it clear that she wanted to check the car out as well, as she had seen quite a few on the road, though she had never driven or sat in one before, so she took the opportunity to do so as the Traffic crew came up close and personal with the 308VTi. Coincidentally, this was Diana’s first time in a Peugeot and from the looks of it… she seemed to enjoy the 308VTi.

The Peugeot 308 model will be remembered in the future as possibly one of Peugeot’s best models because it was a huge step forward for Peugeot in terms of design and quality. In Malaysia, the Peugeot 308 is a success story as it is, as not only are there a noticeable number found cruising on Malaysian roads, but the 308 did the unexpected best of bagging the prestigious car of the year award last year at New Straits Times Cars, Bikes & Trucks Car of The Year Awards.

The Peugeot 308 is a beautiful car. There’s no denying credit to the 308’s designers for conjuring up a stylish four-door hatchback that’s a head turner be it in motion or standstill. Apart from the Volkswagen Golf Gti, this is the other European four-door hatchback that will get you noticed on Malaysian roads, and it cost less than half of the Golf Gti’s price tag.

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A first encounter with the assembled in Malaysia 308VTi, whether driving or seated in one, its almost impossible not to notice how good and impressive the overall build quality of the car is, it’s that good that one can feel it from as early as a first touch.

The 308VTi feels like a CBU (Completely Built Up) car instead of what it actually is, a CKD (Completely Knocked Down) car off the assembly line, up North over at Naza’s assembly plant in Gurun, Kedah. It suspiciously feels very much French and it seemingly does not have a Malaysian flavour, taste or feel to it, although we are not complaining.

The style and quality to be found, enjoyed and appreciated in the 308 sends out a clear message to the masses and Peugeot’s rivals, which is that Peugeot is upping the ante and heading towards being a respected carmaker that produces cars of quality that will stand out in the most competitive of markets.

Design wise, the 308 is both a looker and a stunner for a four-door hatchback, to be put simply, it’s sexy. The front end of the car is basically what gets this car sold in terms of looks.

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Diana commented, “I love the front end of this car, I like the big and shiny Peugeot logo on the car as it works for the 308’s looks and appeal. At the rear however, it is somewhat bland and unimaginative surprisingly.”

However, on a whole, it is a striking design which gives the car character and a sense of presence even among supposedly more prestigious models from other marques in the same segment or category. Although the 308 does not look entirely different from its predecessor, the 307, it is distinctively more vibrant and exciting than the 307.

Upon entering the cabin, the first thing that comes to mind is how spacious the cabin actually is compared to what and how it looks from the outside.

Diana commented, “From the outside the interior looks small but once inside the car, the interior of the 308 is surprisingly spacious. There is more than enough headroom and legroom for five adults to seat comfortably be it on short or long drives.”

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The quality of the interior fittings and components is good to say the least. It does not feel cheap or too plasticky inside, the cabin’s design may feel rather simple at first but upon closer inspection, it is a stylish design that suits the car well as it complements the exterior good looks of the car.

The five circular air-conditioning vents and the white illuminated dials of the meter console are one of the first things the naked eye will pick up to appreciate, apart from the somewhat sporty three-spoke steering wheel and the quality of the fabric of the seats and door panels.

Diana loved the five circular air-conditioning vents and said this, “I like the five circular air-conditioning vents as not only does it look stylish but it also serves to cool the car’s occupants better especially in countries like Malaysia where the climate is really hot and humid, so I think it’s pretty generous of Peugeot.”

The instrument panel LCD display on the dashboard is a welcome technological feature of the car as it displays information such as total distance traveled, warning and status display, trip recorder and even a service indicator.

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The cabin is quite comfortable thanks to the seats, especially the front seats, as the seats are comfortable and yet firm enough to provide sufficient lateral and lumbar support. The rear seats are rather comfortable too but the somewhat upright seating position can be taxing during long drives and journeys, especially for those with back problems. The traditional French flair and elegance is quite evident all throughout the 308’s cabin, and it is exactly this that gives the car’s occupants and driver a luxurious feeling within the car’s cabin.

Another good trait of the 308VTi are the big windshield and windows which give the car’s occupants a good view of the outside.

“The big windshield and windows are good as it gives a better view of the outside compared to other four-door hatchbacks I’ve been in,” said Diana.

Although in the brochure it is stated that the 308VTi comes equipped with a four-speed auto adaptive gearbox with “System Tiptronic Porsche” that has auto, manual and sports mode, do not be fooled into thinking that this car is able to move swiftly through the gears. At the end of the day it is still just a four-speed automatic gearbox with manual and sports mode, full stop.

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To be fair though, this same gearbox seems to be more refined than that found on the 307. Gear changes up and down the ratios are somewhat smooth even when done at full-throttle. Diana liked the gearbox because in her own words, “I like the gearbox because it provides the driver with the choice of using either automatic or manual transmission depending on the mood and driving conditions.”

The 308VTi is relaxing to drive and it can be fun to drive as well when the accelerator pedal is pushed all the way down to the floorboard. 120hp from an inline four DOHC 16Valve engine is quite a respectable figure, but realistically the 308VTi is more of a cruiser than a pocket rocket of the starting block. For more grunt and a spirited drive, the 308Turbo should suffice.

The 308VTi is a four-door hatchback for moving around here and there with comfort and style in mind. The 308VTi’s cabin is well insulated from the outside wind and road noise, and its 1.6-litre engine runs smooth and quietly. The 308VTi’s ride is that comfortable and refined that it feels more like a premium executive. This is where the 308VTi truly excels head and shoulders above its competitors. It is a class act in its segment and an act that should prove hard to follow as well as emulate.

The 160Nm of torque available from this normally-aspirated (NA) powerplant is enough to lug the weight of the car, its occupants, and cargo around without a fuss. It gets the job of moving around done though not in an athletic manner. Driving in the city, often in low gears it performs smoothly; it is easy to drive and manages to soak up the stresses of modern day motoring thanks to its high levels of comfort.

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Being a modern day European four-door hatchback, the 308VTi is loaded with the usual safety features such as four airbags, two for the front and two on the side, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), and a factory fitted engine immobilizer so that car thiefs can’t get far away in the event that they like the car enough to steal it.

Apart from the above mentioned safety features, the 308VTi also has anti whiplash wrap around front head restraints, two ISOFIX location points at two outer rear seats, and auto illumination of the rear hazard lights during emergency braking

To sum it up, Diana put it best when she flashed her alluring smile and said, “I like this car and I do not at all mind owning and driving one, it’s quite people and family-friendly.”

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Traffic wholesomely agrees with lovely Diana. The Peugeot 308 VTi is a good buy not only because a beautiful, young actress like Diana likes it, but also because there are not many European models out there available for under RM100k brand new.

It is a modern, well-built car that can accommodate five adults comfortably, it looks good, and it is a pleasure to drive. If you have a budget of RM100k for a new car and you want something different, in other words not from the land of the rising sun, then give some thought and serious consideration in getting the Peugeot 308Vti.

For more information on the Peugeot 308VTi, drop by any Nasim or Peugeot showroom; call Peugeot Malaysia’s toll-free careline at 1-800-88-6292, or log on to www.peugeot.com.my.

text:  Azdee Amir  pix: Dinesh Appavu

Facts & Figures

Model: Peugeot 308 VTi

Engine: 1598cc Inline four-cylinder

Power/Torque: 120bhp/160Nm

Transmission: 4-speed automatic with manual shift

0-100kmh: 12.5-seconds (Manufacturer’s Figure)

Top Speed: 190km/h (Manufacturer’s Figure)

Consumption: 7.3-litres/100km

Price: RM96, 500 (all-inclusive)

What Traffic Likes:

– Quite well-built

– Refined & smooth (Engine)

– Spacious & comfortable cabin/interior

-It is a near-CBU quality car with a CKD price tag

What Traffic Dislikes:

– It does not have the power, speed & acceleration to match its good looks that evoke a ‘fast’ impression

– The transmission is clunky and slightly coarse for a modern day European model

– Possible low resale value and forecasted rather high maintenance cost.

Comments

  1. Posted by midship on April 15th, 2010, 09:13

    Great European car at a fantastic price but I don’t think quality will be anything to shout about seeing that its assembled in the fishermans village…

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