Peugeot 308 The European Car of Year 2014….or is it? An honest review
For those of you who have read any of my prior blogs you would be more than likely be convinced that this Gentleman Traveller, has no other interest than upsetting the status quo and leaving different messages to the world.
However you would be vastly wrong, I happen to have several loves and passions one of which are cars and yes I am a fan of what Top Gear was BCE (Before Chris Evans). Yes incase you hadn’t already gathered I am a loyal follower of the work of Jeremy Clarkson.
So on to the Peugeot 308 the hatch back which won the European Car of the Year Award for 2014…which lets face it basically basically makes it the World Car of the Year for 2014.
Now I rented this car on a recent return home to England to drive it for the weekend to go to a friends Birthday in the middle of the Cotswolds. This for me is the perfect place to do a good old fashioned road test. Because if a car can handle those roads, and give the driver what is required in terms of feed back etc and still leave them with a smile on their face. Having enjoyed the driving experience then yes the car should be worthy of such a title.
So lets begin…from the outside the car is fairly attractive, good lines, looks modern and fairly pleasing from most angles and sides, which is a nice change for a French car not since the original 205 has a Peugeot hatchback looked so attractive. This is a good thing so on the outside the car is not overly unique but at the same time will stand out from the crowd.
The interior is rather pleasing, very comfortable every thing is very well laid out, I must say I was extremely pleased. The majority of items are well placed and the seats are comfortable and the interior is very modern. Other than the indicator stalks and the other items surrounding the steering wheel, not many other car manufactures other than BMW or one of the members of the VW Audi Group actually get this right. They are far too complicated in my opinion too much twisting knobs etc I know its a French car so I expected a bit of knob turning and funny button pressing in order to get something done.
The new touch screen multimedia system is I have to say very good and rather manageable the satellite navigation system is good to a point…not great but it does work, you will more than likely need your smart phone as a back up if you’re going anywhere in the countryside, as its not quite perfect or as easy to use as other GPS’s I have used in the past. However it has some nice features and a pleasant appearance, also after not too much fiddling around I never felt the urge to RTFM (Read The Fucking Manual) in fact I never once even felt the urge to search for it. However of course doubt less it would have required me to scan a QR code on my smart phone to flipping find it. So was very happy that I wasn’t required to do such a thing.
There was even a friendly USB port so that I could plug in my smart phone and have Robbie Williams telling me how we all want to good look naked…yes there is another nugget of info about this mysterious out spoken Gentleman, I happen to like good music…so for all those of you who are trying to track me down to tell me that my opinions don’t matter there you are…another clue hahahaha. Of course I do have an e-mail whether or not I answer….depends on how much of an idiot I deem you to be…or how much fun I think I can have at your expense then publish the entire convo up here.
Any way back to the 308….
The Driving Experience
So far you would have to agree with me the 308 does sound like a worthy winner of the European Car of the year 2014 and you would be right. But now we get down to the bones of this review.
The driving experience is the most important part of any road test, other wise it can be like having sex with the most beautiful woman / man (can’t just be a raving heterosexual, and people do have varying tastes after all), you have ever seen if they end up being a terrible kisser or have no idea what they are doing. The beautiful body will not meet expectations and the whole experience will become highly forgetful and what you will tell your friends will be be a complete and utter fabrication. However if they are as amazing in the sack as their bodies are, then this is something you won’t forget and will probably want never to leave their side, more than likely want to do something as dramatic as to marry them…or just to hire them for the next 2 or 3 weeks until you have been fully sated…either way its going to cost you as much as buying the car.
With a car’s road test its very much the same thing, so lets commence on the story of the 308’s drive on the Motorway (Highway for our American cousins), followed by my beloved country Roads in the Cotswolds the ultimate test of any hatchback and of course there might have been the odd road through a field.
Actually me driving the 308 was due to a complete and utter…well fuck up by the not so good people at Expedia who very nearly screwed me over. With my flight arriving later than they had booked my car for which the booking was valid for 2 hours….the booked the car for 1pm my flight arrived at 8:30 pm, which is funny because I booked both my flight and car rental through them…so I would like to thank the rather Excellent People at Green Motion car rental at Heathrow for their impeccable service and assistance. So their company this author can Highly recommend, and Expedia has yet to give me compensation for the extra expenses I incurred. So my only thoughts on Expedia are if they make a mistake, which ends up costing you don’t even think that they will give you financial compensation apparently it just doesn’t happen apparently.
So on to the road test, on first starting up the car it sounded rather good for a diesel and a French diesel at that, not so quiet that you can’t hear the engine and yet quite masculine. This was a rather pleasant surprise not what I was expecting from a French car in the slightest. The power steering actually worked giving me enough feed back driving around the rental car park to be rather comfortable with.
Getting on the road and on the Motor way I was very happy at how comfortable it was, cruising at 90 miles per hour felt like I was driving at 65 mph…this probably the reason why I got caught speeding by a hidden policeman on the M4…so a lecture from the police and I was informed that I would be fined £100 and 3 points would be added on to my license. So my advice when driving this car on the Motor way is to set it to set the cruise control to 75 mph and leave it there.
Until that point I was very much enjoying my journey in the 308 and was marvelling at how it felt on the Motor way and how comfortable it was at higher speeds, it also gets to them very easily without too much of a lead foot needed.
A little while later I had gotten off the motor way and began to hit the round about infected mess that is Swindon. Yes, the home of the not so Magic Roundabout…not as colourful as the Children’s Television programme of the same name however, just as confusing as some of the characters and was definitely designed under the same influence of vast quantities of Cannabis as its TV counterpart. That or someone who just wanted to give every driver in the area the middle finger, either way it was designed by someone with a significant amount of pent up rage or mental issues.
Now this car being a hatch back, typically the car of choice for every boy racer since the original 205 GTI and VW Golf GTI. I was expecting it to do one thing in the corners namely be a bit stiff and give me some feed back when I hammered my right foot on the accelerator having gone past the apex whilst exiting a roundabout, did it??? No. Is the blunt answer as I had forgotten that hatch backs these days are no longer the cars designed for students or boy racers but are in fact family cars. But the feeling of this car exiting a tight corner with the power on unlike my MK 4 VW Golf, felt dangerous almost like driving a waterbed. Yes it really was that bad…before exiting the motorway I was marvelling at how comfortable and safe this car felt.
This was apparently a false facade, as much as I had began to like even love a French car for the first time ever…it had to rather inevitably do something fundamental to make me feel disappointed. This was and still is frustrating because it is so close to being something quite special…and then the handling came into play.
This feeling was not just due to my driving, which I have been told is rather good by many people a like and I have driven in pretty much every condition possible, from floods to full on blizzards. As I soon discovered when I got on to my beloved testing grounds of the twisty, turny, country roads of the Cotswolds. Loved by many including one Jeremy Clarkson now of Amazon and the Royal Family. These roads will push a car to see how it will actually handle and still it felt like I was driving a boat on water, like my chair was not part of the car like when I turned the wheel it seemed to take half a second for the car to turn (and no before you ask I was a sober as a judge). A very off putting sensation indeed, in most other cars I have driven on this road the cars have felt stiff and responsive but the suspension on the 308 left the car feeling like a motor way cruiser. Not a car that you’re supposed to have any fun in whatsoever, it seems like Peugeot have forgotten this driving is not just about driving on Motorways its also supposed to be enjoyable believe it or not.
The 308 is a very good car indeed and as a motor way cruiser it is a very apt family car. However it is lacking as a pure out and out hatchback, Peugeot have forgotten this simple fact and made the suspension as giving as a water bed. Now to answer the question does it deserve the award for Euro Car of the year 2014…no question in my mind a rather saddening and emphatic…no. It came so close, if it were not for the rather terrifying handling and lack of fun attached to it, there is no doubt in my mind that yes it would have been. But this Traveller cannot recommend a car which has forgotten that driving should be an enjoyable activity, the experience was as grey as the car it self. A manufacturer can put as much high tech wizardry into a car as it likes, but unless the driving experience puts a smile on to the drivers face…then the car is a complete and utter failure.