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Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

The 308 is brand new right from the platform upwards and even has a range of new Euro 6-compliant ‘BlueHDi’ engines, the most frugal of which will endow it with 91mpg economy and hybrid-beating CO2 emissions and should make it one of the most fuel-efficient new cars in the real world.

There’s evidence of carefully hewn substance throughout this car. Peugeot admits that it aimed for a visual impression of quality and refinement and doesn’t demur from acknowledging any similarity with the Volkswagen Golf. That’s a bit disappointing, if only because greater distinctiveness is expected from a French car. But that noted, the 308’s is a tidy and generally appealing design.

The Peugeot's unitary underbody is rich in high-strength steels

The car’s EMP2 platform imposes a familiar layout: transverse engine and gearbox up front and front-wheel drive, with strut suspension for the front wheels and a torsion beam mounted on trailing arms at the rear.

The platform itself is 70kg lighter than the old PF2 structure, while the 308’s body-in-white is also 70kg lighter than before. Greater use of high-strength steels, more precise joining techniques and the adoption of aluminium and composite thermoplastic for various panels and closures sees to that.

Redesigning the 308’s engine cooling systems has allowed 63mm to be taken out of the front overhang. The car is 30mm shorter than the previous 308, the remaining 33mm of usable space going into a bigger boot.

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The rolling chassis uses wider tracks than its predecessor and it suspends a car with a lower roofline and a corresponding 20mm lower longitudinal roll axis. Peugeot says this allows softer spring rates for a more compliant ride without increasing body roll. Changes have also been made to the torsion beam rear end.

The latest Peugeot 308’s suspension – shared in essence with the Citroën C4 Picasso, which is also based on PSA’s new EMP2 platform – is all new and, with less unsprung mass than that of the outgoing 308, well placed to deliver a more competitive ride and handling package for the car.

One of the key improvements made to the rear suspension – a torsion beam configuration suspended via trailing arms – is a reappraisal of the direction in which the rear wheels travel when they hit a bump and the relocation of the dampers that ultimately absorb that bump.

A redesign of the suspension pick-up points allows the rear wheels a slightly curved range of movement instead of a strictly vertical one. That means that when bigger ‘bump-thump’ forces come into the equation, they are transmitted longitudinally as well as upwards into the bodyshell, making for a smoother and quieter ride.