If you’re thinking of buying the new Peugeot 308, don’t. Not yet, anyway.
The company released UK specs and prices for its latest hatchback yesterday, and for a potential C segment customer, they catalogue an attractive prospect. In entry-level Access trim, with the 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, the car starts at £14,495; that’s cheaper than a starter Volkswagen Golf or Seat Leon, and very close indeed to where the Kia Cee’d and Hyundai i30 begin.
Ford will sell you a Focus cheaper, but only in the kind of poverty spec that would make a Greek car hire firm blanch. The 308 comes with air-con, cruise control, Bluetooth and a DAB tuner - pretty much the first four things that should be at the top of anyone’s kit wish list. Chuck another £2k at the problem and you can have the 1.6-litre HDI, which at 95g/km CO2, will be tax free to boot.
So why wait? Well, for a start, you can’t really have the Access trim. Yes, it sounds good, but it doesn’t come with alloy wheels or rear parking sensors or Peugeot’s new 9.7-inch touchscreen, so at resale time it’s going to be about as attractive as a used Network Rail toilet. Realistically, you need the Active level above it, which gets it all plus an electric handbrake, dual-zone chiller, auto headlights and wipers, and, enticingly, sat-nav.
You could have all that right now of course. Except you definitely shouldn’t. Because you’ve upgraded to the Active trim, a whole new range of engines are now available; including the turbocharged version of the aforementioned three-pot, which instead of cranking out a measly (and insufficient) 82bhp, develops 130bhp while also gently lowering CO2 emissions.
Peugeot’s Benjamin Hindsley, an Englishman tasked with overseeing the 308’s overall attributes, reckons the motor is more than a match for Ford’s award-winning 1.0-litre Ecoboost: an engine which, for now, it will outperform - 172lb ft of torque nixes 125lb ft - and significantly undercut the Ford, since it retails at £17,945 compared to the similarly specced £19,795 Titanium Focus.
But it’s not available. Not yet. Frustratingly, all the new Euro 6 compliant engines are currently in project orbit, circling the 308 range like airliners waiting to dock at a fog-bound Heathrow. They will not land until March next year.