OF all the French car makers I have always thought Peugeot produced the best looking vehicles… and so it is with their latest offering the new 308.

The car has loads of road presence with its dramatic slash front running lights and the latest corporate Peugeot front design plus plenty of angles and creases in the bodywork and distinctive ‘three claw’ rear lights – while inside the new 308 feels even more premium in line with the brand’s upmarket aspirations.

There’s lots to challenge opposition from the likes of the VW Golf and Ford Focus in the very tough and competitive market for family-sized hatchbacks.

It is a car sector that has somewhat fallen out of favour with buyers wanting SUVs, but hatchbacks still account for lots of sales which is why Peugeot have reworked their best seller and our test version, the near range-topping Allure Premium 1.2L PureTech 130 auto is likely to be on buyers wish lists.

That is because it has a great standard kit list including sat nav, adaptive cruise control and rear view cameras plus three driving modes – sport, normal and eco – and in the latter Peugeot claim up to a shade over 52 mpg, which I can well believe as after a busy week of very mixed driving I handed the car back with still around 250 miles left in the tank.

While the company say the car is ‘all new’ it still has the same EMP2 platform as the previous-generation model, plus many others in the Stellantis group, but that is by no means a bad thing as the layout is tried and tested.

Peugeot’s lane positioning and adaptive cruise control along with lane assist and a 10-inch digital dash plus 10.1-inch central touchscreen are standard, although the latter is a little fiddly to use on the move. Then there is their trademark i-Cockpit set up with the main dials and display above a small squared off steering wheel keeping them more in your line of sight when driving.

The standard eight speed auto box gives smooth shifts and that 128bhp 1.2 PureTech petrol engine is surprisingly quick in Sport mode with its turbocharged three cylinders giving a pleasingly sporty note with 0 to 60 in 9.7 seconds and a top speed of 130mph. I never fail to marvel at how much power engineers are now able to extract from diminutive power plants.

Peugeot has managed to achieve a sporty yet comfortable ride with plenty of grip and not much body roll while on those 17-inch ‘diamond cut’ alloy wheels the car copes well over rough roads.

The 308 range starts from £24,635, but our Allure Premium trim model comes in at £28,000 plus £695 for that smart special pearlescent paint job.

All in all a great package from Peugeot and I am sure we will see lots of 308s on our roads for many years to come.

For more information go to www.peugeot.co.uk

By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth