Story & photo by Ronald Rey M. de los Reyes
TWENTY-three years ago, the country hosted the prestigious Miss Universe pageant. Back then, when I was a tad short of my teens—childish, stubborn and foolish—this writer caught a glimpse and was awestruck by Miss Colombia when she was at the Manila Hotel, and right there telling my father (who was covering the event at that time) that I would someday surely want to marry a beauty queen.
Fast-forward and I’m now married to a beautiful wife with two kids, the famous eye-candy pageantry is back in town. If I was still single (putting emphasis on the “if”) and if I had the money (again, a big “if”), I would drive the Peugeot 308 Hatchback and show off in front of the Miss U bets or, at least, take the car for these following reasons:
A handsome pocket-rocket
It’s an exquisitely good-looking French car that has finely finished exteriors, complemented by LED headlamps.
Definitely a pocket-rocket, it’s 105mm shorter and 19mm narrower than a Ford Focus and is just 1,205 kilograms light, particularly the 1.6 active model.
Meantime, the 1.6 Diesel GT Line, which this scribe was able to borrow in a separate time (not shown in photo), comes with extra visuals, like 18-inch alloy wheels, twin exhaust trim, cooling air intakes and dig this—it’s lowered.
From the front all the way to its back, it’s subtly seamless sporting lines traverse through its skirts along its side all to its “lion’s claw” tail lamps.
Any beauty queen will surely be allured. It’s not named the European Car of the Year for nothing.
Refined interiors and neat niceties
Inside, the 308’s focus is on build quality and comfort. From a minimalist point of view, the cabin is a complete haven as it’s easier on the eyes, featuring lesser buttons that tend to distract drivers in other rival vehicles. Here, the 9.7-inch touchscreen takes care of everything. It controls the navigation, radio and air-conditioning systems, providing the interior a sleeker and cleaner look.
It’s part of Peugeot’s unusual i-Cockpit design beautifully blending the elements, such as the central touchscreen, its smaller-diameter steering wheel and high-set dials.
This one’s rightly fit as she tries to put on makeup. Yes, I guess lesser things to doodle with.
Space-wise, the room at the front is enough for those long lean legs of hers. Just don’t let her friends stay on the rear though, as one might get cranky with the available space given. This was meant to be able to allot better area for the boot. This can be better used for her large suitcases, gowns and whatnots for, with its folded rear seats, it can accommodate about 1,185 liters of volume.
Superb driving dynamics
This quirky piece of machinery can zip through traffic, weaving with absolute ease. Some can even compare it to the topnotch class-leading Volkswagen Golf.
Because of a special chassis based on Peugeot’s new EMP Modular platform, it’s lighter and gifted that one can just handle it on those tight corners effortlessly.
Powered by either its 1.6 HDI diesel that puts out 120hp and 300 Nm of torque or the 1.6 THP variant, which produces 150hp and 240 Nm of torque, the vehicle gives quite a kick in every turn and push on the straights.
It’s a good travel companion for everyday use with its low noise levels, supple ride, reliability and first-class stability.
Although the GT Line maybe a bit stiffer because of its bigger wheels, the 308 on the average sports excellent suspension. In fact, the more the road gets worse, it further soaks up the bumps to the point as if it’s already cradling a baby to sleep.
All in all, this 308 is a step up from its other Peugeot siblings since its new platform allows it to be smoother and more comfortable, while still living up to that French standard of premium quality.
With its finest facets, it would be hard to cast off such a masterpiece, which not even a beauty queen would ever dare do. While it’s good to dream and wonder about what could have been, I’d rather be in the arms of my own little “Miss Universe” back at home.Image credits: Ronald Rey M. de los Reyes