6f345 AlfaRomeo peugeot 308 e hdi 1 Peugeot 308 Allure e HDi 112: Road test review
Believe it or not, Peugeot’s 3-series range has been around since 1932 and the 308 is the best-selling version.

Sales total over 3.2 million worldwide and after 229,000 have found UK homes, Peugeot face-lifted its small family model last year to meet the challenge from newer rivals such as the Ford Focus.

To see if they have succeeded, we spent a week with the £19,665 Allure 1.6 e-HDi 112 hatch.

On the outside, at the same time of fitting this new engine the 308 was subjected to a 508-esque face-lift.

4f3f9 AlfaRomeo peugeot 308 e hdi 2 Peugeot 308 Allure e HDi 112: Road test review
The main changes are at the front, and include a shorter nose, with the previous gaping look replaced by a smaller, neater chrome-lined grille. There are also smaller front headlights and a more compact front bumper with LED sidelights.

Inside, the spacious, airy cabin is mainly unchanged, with just a new set of dials and some piano black detailing to freshen it up. In Allure specification there’s plenty of luxury kit, but build quality isn’t quite up to European rivals.

The supportive seats which adjust for height are comfortable, but the offset pedals and steering column make it difficult to find a comfortable driving position.

Rear legroom for the 308 is just average, although even with the curvy roof line there’s plenty of headroom even for six-footers. The 266-litre boot is a practical size, but has a high loading sill.

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In Allure specification, the 308 is well-equipped as you’d expect from a car costing almost £20,000, with standard equipment including climate control, electric windows and mirrors, alloy wheels and a glass roof.

The latest 308 isn’t just about a new look, there’s also some new technology in the form of Peugeot’s clever new ‘micro-hybrid’ technology. Basically, e-HDi models pair a 110bhp 1.6-litre diesel with a reversible alternator and five-volt battery booster pack.

Smoother than standard stop-start systems fitted to other cars we’ve tried, it allows the engine to be switched off for longer and there’s even a handy ‘eco’ meter built into the trip computer that records how long you’re stationary for each journey.

Sadly, the 308 e-HDi isn’t as green as you might expect. In fact the Allure hatchback that we drove on different sized alloy wheels emitted 118g/km of Co2 and returned 62.7mpg on the Combined cycle.

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The 110 bhp diesel engine lacks puff but is a smooth, refined and torquey performer. Where the 308 falls down, is that it rides too softly, the steering lacks feel and the six-speed manual gearbox feels imprecise.

So would we buy one? In a word, no. We’re not convinced by the economy gains and the Ford Focus is better to drive. The Ford ride may be harder, but it handles better and the steering feels sharper. The Focus is also the far more attractive car to look at.