The Australian motoring landscape is dominated by SUV’s and utes, which begs the question whether there’s room for a traditional wagon. The resounding answer is yes, and the 2023 Peugeot 308 GT Premium Wagon is unlike anything else on the market right now.
This author promised himself he wouldn’t use the type of vernacular one would expect to read in a French car review, things like Tre ’chic. Oops.
Resplendent in its Pearl White paint, with almost jarring high-gloss blackouts across various external surfaces including the wheels, roof and trims, the completely new Peugeot logo wasn’t the only reason for the many confused glances when driving around Sydney.
It’s a real design refresh for the French car maker and it demonstrates both flair and practicality. The front shows off the brand’s new lighting signature, housing Matrix LED headlights and blade-shaped daytime running lights.
The rear is just as sharp, with claw-to-claw led taillights that sit recessed into the tailgate and rear guards. Overall, it offers supercar angles and design in a very practical vehicle. This doesn’t stop at the exterior either.
Jumping into the driver’s seat for the first time is a feast for the senses. Sporty, yet comfortable electrically adjustable and heated front pews covered in a combination of Nappa leather and Alcantara are centrepieces in an abundance of green stitching.
There’s plenty of soft materials and high gloss piano black too. The dash design makes the interior look much wider than it is and reminds one of something peculiar between a hyper car and an intergalactic spaceship.
Just slide open the massive sunroof, choose your favourite massage setting on yours and your passenger’s seat, and float off into oblivion. Overall though, it is quirky. A little toggle switch replaces a traditional gear selector on the centre console for example.
The small but lovely-to-touch steering wheel is shaped with flat edges top and bottom and the instrument binnacle sits a lot higher than normal. It took this writer a long time to get used to, that’s for sure.
The steering wheel forever felt like it was sitting in my lap and I couldn’t get a full view of the instruments, regardless of what I tried. It almost felt dangerous at the beginning. The steering is light (but not without feel) and short in ratio though.
That means manipulation of the wheel is easy once you get used to the ergonomics of it. The instrument binnacle itself is also one to point out. It’s a screen that has a very interesting holographic or 3D setup.
It almost adds a second screen to the foreground, allowing the driver to see different functions along with what remains behind. It’s different but it works well. I will admit too, I’m a CarPlay guy, but at one point my iPhone had a meltdown.
It was then that it was relegated to the wireless charging pad and we took the time to explore what turned out to be an excellent navigation system. Run by Tom-Tom, it’s easy to use, accurate and was smart enough to assist with parking, fuel prices and live traffic.
We found the interface between driver and car intuitive despite a distinct lack in tactile buttons anywhere, it’s a real credit to the team at Peugeot. For what is classified a small wagon, the interior was spacious.
Rear seat passengers had ample space, USB C ports to charge devices and rear air conditioning vents. With the rear seats up, the Peugeot has 608 impressive litres of space. Folding them down extends your load carrying capacity up to a cavernous 1634 litres.
That’s enough to carry a 9-foot fresh Christmas tree, a large pre-Christmas shop from Costco and an exhaust for a Jeep Wrangler. Ask me how I know.
The diminutive 1.2-litre 3-cylinder engine from the previous model returns, with 96kW at a peaky 5550rpm. Paired with an 8-speed Aisin automatic gearbox, it was never going to match the sporting pretensions set by the design of the 308 Wagon, but it did better than expected.
It’s got enough down-low torque to get going but also performed admirably at highway speeds. Despite its size, the drivetrain never felt unsettled or stressed. The engine noise isn’t pleasing though, and there was too much of it in-cabin.
In general, the interior was a little noisier than we would have expected, given the quality of the surrounds, and the 18-inch low-profile tyres may have added to that. The other disappointment was fuel consumption.
With a good combination of different driving styles, we weren’t able to better 9.2-litres/100km, which isn’t that great given the small engine capacity.
The suspension was quite plush and soft, and while that’s not a preference for this author, it’s admirable how the chassis works around it all and the car feels super comfortable yet well planted in all but the most jarring road conditions.
It doesn’t feel unsafe, but the wallowing really caught us out mid corner through poor road surfaces a couple of times. The razzle dazzle of the design is met with a full gamut of technology too.
Aside from what has already been mentioned, safety related technology features strongly. An excellent 10-inch screen supplemented with a 360-degree camera, aids parking. Six airbags are joined by the pre-requisite ABS and stability/traction control as well.
There’s also blind spot monitoring, post collision braking, rear cross-traffic alert, forward accident emergency braking, active lane positioning, driver attention alert, and speed limit recognition as standard.
Other conveniences include gesture-based rear-hatch opening, automatic unlocking of the vehicle on approach and even an air quality management system.
Pricing for the 2023 Peugeot 308 GT Premium Wagon is $55,278 drive away. Competition wise, there aren’t many wagons in this size segment and where they exist, such as in the Volkswagen and Skoda stables, there really isn’t a like-for-like comparison.
It’s got all the style and features of a Golf R Wagon, but without the performance. For perspective, that VW is a smidgeon over $77,000 drive away. Pricing aside, the Peugeot certainly offers space without the need for a large car, in a package that will stand out.
Our test vehicle was provided by Peugeot Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Peugeot 308 GT Premium Wagon, contact your local Peugeot dealer. Pictures courtesy of Andrew E Hempsall.