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Peugeot 308 Range Refresh

This is a three-part first drive, covering the 308 hatchback e-HDI 112 with stop start in city traffic. Then the 308CC with the same 200PS 1.6 THP petrol engine as driven in the Citroen DS3 last week. Then the 308SW with 2.0 163PS diesel engine and 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

But first, the improvements across the range.

All 308s have shed an average of 25 kilos a car by increased use of thinner, high tensile steel.

They’ve all had a nose job that results in less overhang at the front and gives the car a more balanced look.

There are LED DRLs, new headlights, new chrome detailing (including a strip across the rump), new 16” and 17” alloy wheels, stop/start on all 1. 6 diesel models and, wait for it, an average £800 price reduction.

The range now comes in 6 levels: Access, Active, Allure, GT, Oxygo and SR. Prices start at £15,245 for the base ‘Access’ trim hatchback and goes up to £27,545 for the top model SR trim CC. Station Wagons come in at £1,000 more than the equivalent hatchbacks (at £16,245 to £23,395) and usefully have three full sized seats each with ISOFIX tethers across the back. So if you only have one child you can at least situate him in the centre of the back seat where he can see forwards and not be sick down the back of your neck.

All petrol engines are chain cam with outputs of 98PS, 120PS, 156PS and 200PS. Diesels stick to belts and 0ffer 92PS, 112PS, 150PS and 163PS. Like the Mazda 3 and Mazda 5, the 1.6 diesels are now 8 valve to reduce weight and cost and improve torque at low revs.

No less than 26 models are under 121g/km so are £30 tax or less. The Oxygo manual 1.6 e-HDI is 104g/km, so £20 tax, and the Oxygo EGC automated manual arriving in July 2011) is 98g/km CO2, so both VED and London Congestion Charge free.

These Oxygo models are not stripped out specials. They come with cruise control, speed limiter, 16” alloy wheels, low rolling resistance tyres, stop-start, regenerating alternator, super capacitors as well as battery, fully body coloured exterior, front foglights, Peugeot Connect USB with Bluetooth, an aerodynamic pack, and ride 10mm lower. List prices are £18,865 for the manual and £19,515 for the EGC.

The Peugeot stop-start system operates from -5 degrees to + 30 and the engine shuts down on lift off from 12mph in the manual and from 5mph in the EGC.

Around Cardiff in rush-hour traffic the stop-start system of the e-HDI worked faultlessly, just taking us a bit of time to forget that instead of leaving the car in gear when lifting off for lights we were supposed to coast up to them.

Next day we took the peach of the range, the CC with THP 200 engine, interested to discover how the engine performance and sound compared to the Citroen DS driven last Friday.

Memo to Peugeot/Citroen: Could Citroen engineers please get together with Peugeot engineers and fit the Peugeot exhaust system to the DS4 because it works and sounds good, while the ‘harmonic sound system’ of the DS4 exhaust merely sounds bad.

The 308CC 200THP also steered and handled altogether more joyfully than the DS4, though, on 225/40 R18 tyres, it did jar a bit over rough surfaces so wasn’t quite as refined.

You can see for yourself from the photos how much the styling tweaks improve its appearance.

To anyone who is thinking of buying a coupe convertible and was considering the VW EOS to get its sweet 200PS 2.0-litre turbo engine should definitely give the 308CC a go first.

Lastly, if not the peach or the range, the apricot. The 308SW with 163PS 2.0 HDI and 6-speed autobox.

Very nice, very practical car. If I were buying I’d opt for 17” wheels rather than the 18s and put a bit more rubber between the rims and the road. But otherwise the SW offered a very refined and also decently rapid drive with the practicality of being able to carry 7 at a pinch.

And, to labour the point, no less than three full sized seats across the back, each with ISOFIX child seat tethers.

It’s still the only mid sized family station wagon to offer this very important feature.

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