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When Melbourne winter sets in, the best thing to do is escape the cold and head to… the beach?
Yes I know, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, but the lure of a cool modernist Airbnb house with an open fireplace on the Mornington Peninsula is hard to ignore.
With 384 litres of cargo space - 28L less than the GT hatch - with all seats in place, the 308 GT Premium’s boot has decent usable space.
That may be because it has a tyre repair kit rather than a temporary spare wheel. It looks bigger than the figures suggest. It’s got more space than a VW Golf hatch (374L), and a few more litres than the BMW 118i (380L).
We managed to easily fit the luggage of my partner and I, and we are notorious over-packers. We also brought with us a bottle shop’s worth of booze and waaaaaaaaaay too much food.
Aside from a few bottles of wine and yet another bag of food, the whole lot - including our pillows - neatly fit in the boot.
Little did we realise we would further test the little Peugeot’s capacity on the way home. In a case of bad luck, our friends who were staying with us and drove down separately in their Skoda Octavia RS wagon, hit a deceptively large pothole on a quick coffee run on our first morning there.
It damaged the oil sump and the car was temporarily cooked. We had to leave it at a repair centre on the peninsula for a week to be fixed, which meant they had to hitch a ride with us - and all the luggage and leftover food of four grown men - in the 308 back to Melbourne.
I’ll come back to whether or not that was successful in a moment.
But back to the drive down to the peninsula. It was the first opportunity I'd had since collecting the 308 to drive it any great distance.
We left home on Friday afternoon to head to the beach, as did five million other Melburnians. Traffic was rotten, so we spent the first 45 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Which, given the 308’s urban vibe, is a perfectly comfortable place for it.
This was the perfect time for us to test the massage function on the seats. And you know what? That function, with its multiple massage options, is up there with the likes of Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. You can genuinely feel the snaking seat mechanism having an impact.
The freeway stint also highlighted the well calibrated lane-keeping aid and adaptive cruise control of the fancy French hatch. It’s never too intrusive or jolty. Peugeot has managed to get these systems right.
One thing that polarises people about the current crop of Peugeot models is the driver’s side 'i-Cockpit'. The top of the tiny steering wheel sits below the digital instrument cluster and dials and controls are angled towards the driver.
On the road, I think the set-up works well. You don’t have to reach far to access the 10-inch touchscreen, and for me, the smaller wheel and dash set-up combined is effective. There’s no need for a head-up display because the dials peak up above the wheel.
I am 183cm (six foot) tall and have no troubles sliding into the beautifully designed front seat. The seating position works well for me, but I can see why some people don’t love it.
Anyhoo, beyond the traffic jam the 308 was a joy to drive on the freeway. It’s quiet enough, and smooth on the road. Finally reaching the peninsula, Google Maps took us a wacky way to the Airbnb property. But I’m glad it did.
The winding and sometimes undulating roads were a perfect showcase of the 308’s dynamism - it hugged corners thanks to ample grip, and remained balanced where other cars may have been challenged.
The ultra sharp steering from the light helm means it is a joy to steer, too. And the slick-shifting eight-speed torque convertor automatic transmission is a perfect match for the three-cylinder turbo.
A couple of areas could do with improvement, however. There is some turbo lag from take off, and the brakes are incredibly sensitive. I’m used to them now - I’ve worked out when to apply foot pressure.
A day trip to the Red Hill wine region yet again highlighted the handling capability of The Peugeot 308. So much so, that it feels like the new benchmark in the small car class - regardless of price.
So back to that drive home.
Somehow, we managed to fit all of the luggage and leftover food and drink into the 308 with four bodies on board. Sure, the rear passengers had bags stacked between them and the odd pillow on their lap, but it was fine.
And, even with all that additional weight, there was no noticeable impact to the Peugeot’s straight line performance. We probably sipped a bit more fuel on the way home, though.
Acquired: April 2023
Distance travelled this month: 462km
Average energy consumption this month: 10.7L/100km
Based on new car retail price
Based on new car retail priceVIEW PRICING & SPECS
Based on new car retail price