WITH an all-new engine and an eight-speed auto box in its manifesto Peugeot is revamping its 308 range of hatchbacks and estates.
Due for release later in the year the new-look model continue the French brand's move upmarket.
Smartened up inside and out the latest 308s come with a bold new face that includes the jewel-studded grille from Peugeot's SUVs, distinctive light clusters front and rear and a new 9.7-inch touchscreen.
There's also some extra technology including lane departure warning, blind spot protection and an adaptive cruise control which on automatic models can operate in stop/start traffic.
With the five grade line up now starting at Active trim - the entry level Access models are being dropped from the line up - the new 308 will be priced from Â£18,570 - cheaper than before and Peugeot says that on average the new range is pitched some Â£650 below the current models.
Against the likes of the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and VW Golf that makes the French model highly competitive and it's the best medium sized family offering Peugeot has produced.
Refinement levels are much improved and not only does the car handle sweetly it has a sporty side thanks to an electronic drive mode which stiffens the ride, sharpens the steering and adds punch to the throttle.
Engage it and there's an artificial exhaust growl under acceleration while the instrument panel switches into red and a turbo boost, engine power and torque meter appears on the dash. There's even a G-force meter to keep enthusiasts happy.
The interior retains Peugeot's i-Cockpit design which features a smaller than normal steering wheel and an unobstructed view of the instrument panel with most functions operated either via steering wheel mounted button and stalks or from the new-look touchscreen.
The sat nav is fitted with live traffic date from TomTom and that's probably the best jam-busting system around at the moment.
Other changes on the connectivity front include compatibility with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink smartphone hook ups.
The core petrol engines - three cylinder 1.2-litre PureTech units in three stages of boost and a 2.0-litre turbo - are carried forward and so are three 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesels and two higher powered 2.0-litre diesels.
The new engine is a 1.5-litre diesel which slots in between and with 130bhp on tap it's potent and frugal, meeting the latest Euro emission standards even before they come into force.
Peugeot has yet to publish official fuel figures but says that the new engine will be up to six per cent more economical than the current 1.6 diesel - and that itself is one of the leanest engines around, rated at more than 90mpg in some states of tune.
The same is true of the new eight speed auto box fitted to the high powered 180bhp 2.0-litre diesel which could cut emissions by up to seven per cent.
Sampling both on German autobahns and mountain roads we saw an average of 46mpg from the new diesel and 34 to the gallon from the automatic.
Both performed well. The 1.5 is a four cylinder, 16 valve engine and the first of Peugeot's new generation of BlueHDi ultra-clean diesels and will eventually replace the current 1.6-litre blocks.
Through the gears it felt quick and torquey while the new auto box, developed by Japanese transmission experts Aisin, was not only smooth but sophisticated with punchy paddle shifts and well-set sporty ratios allowing the car to be driven with some enthusiasm.
There's also a new six speed manual box mated to the 130bhp PureTech engine which is lighter than before to help on the performance front.
As before it has a fair turn of speed with a 0 to 60 acceleration time of 9.6 seconds, a top end of 125mph and official fuel economy of 62.7 with emissions of 104g/km.
It averaged 37.1mpg on our drive.
Boot space remains unchanged on the new models - 470 litres for the hatch and 660 for the SW estate - and the first of the restyled 308s will be arriving in September.
The new automatic will be available from launch and the 1.5 diesel will be coming on stream by November.
The redesign also extends to the high performance 308 GTi which is now being made available with a black and blue ‘coupe Franche' two-tone paint job in addition to the red/black combination used on the model since its launch in 2015.
Peugeot says is will be announcing full pricing and specification for the new range in the coming weeks.