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The entirely-new Peugeot 308 hatchback has officially been launched in Ireland, and the French marque has high expectations that its new flagship hatchback will win over a lot of new customers with its latest rival to the Volkswagen Golf.
The 308 has been given a much more contemporary design that endows the car with a more upmarket feel usually the preserve of the segment's German vehicles. Gone is the gaping lower grille of old in favour of a far neater look that more closely resembles the smaller Peugeot 208's front-end. More compact, sharper looking headlights add to the sleeker image while all three trim levels - Access, Active and Allure - benefit from the standard fitment of LED daytime running lights. Buyers opting for the range-topping Allure trim will also get full LED headlights included as standard.
The rear design is equally attractive, and features a hatch door that is constructed from thermoplastic in order to save three kilograms. Flanking this is what Peugeot calls its 'three-claw rear lights', which give the back of the new 308 quite a distinctive look. At 4.25 metres in length it is one of the most compact cars in the busy segment and it is also four centimetres lower than the model it replaces.
Peugeot has been quite generous with the specification on the new 308, especially in the mid-level Active trim, which is likely to be the popular choice in the Irish market. Bluetooth, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and 16-inch alloy wheels come as standard items on this car, which has a starting price of €20,990 for the 82hp 1.2-litre petrol model.
For a €1,500 price increase, buyers can upgrade to the Allure trim level, which benefits from larger 17-inch alloy wheels, sports seats up front and an automatic electronically operated handbrake. The minimalist interior design is furthered by the inclusion of a 9.7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that comes as standard in all but the entry-level Active specification.
Although a 1.2-litre petrol engine will be offered, Peugeot expects this to account for only 15 per cent of sales here in Ireland, with the majority of buyers expected to go for the 92hp 1.6-litre diesel option, which, thanks to lower CO2 emissions, falls into the cheaper tax Band A2, at €180 per annum. Peugeot is also offering a more powerful 115hp 1.6-litre eHDi engine that, despite offering higher performance, also falls into the A2 tax band.
The Peugeot 308 is now on sale in Ireland and will be joined later on in the year by the 308 SW estate variant that loses none of its looks even with the additional carry capacity. Read all about the 308 SW here.