IT'S a fresh cabin when you sit into the new Peugeot 308.
The small steering wheel catches your eye.
It is designed so you can see relevant information on the screen above it and not have to peer through the wheel. It works. Also terribly handy for steering in tight corners.
The car isn't any bigger than the previous one but at 4.24m it is the shortest in this biggest-selling family-car segment – and 3cm shorter as well as 4cm lower than the old one.
I've passed a few of the latter these past couple of days and they seem quite tall.
However, they have shed 140kgs (use of aluminium in the front wings and bonnet; seat frames etc) and squeezed some more space into it due to a longer wheelbase.
That helps knock fuel consumption and consequently emissions. The boot is bigger and I'm assured and there was a full-size spare wheel when I checked.
Later in the year the French car-maker will have a model emitting just 82g/km.
Peugeot is sticking with the 308 name – indeed all names will end in '8' from now on. Good. Fresh car, old number. That's the way to do things; helps continuity.
The 9.7ins touch screen on the dash, in our version, was central to everything. We discovered that on a relatively short drive. It is intuitive, thank God, because some of these yokes require the brainpower of a Mastermind specialist.
The screen allows control of the likes of the air con, phone, sat nav, multimedia. There are seven buttons in all – thankfully sparse and purposeful.
Prices start at €18,990 ex-works and there is a five-year warranty – something that maybe you didn't know existed.
The one I think to look out for is the 1.6-litre HDi (92bhp). It has just 95g/km emissions which is extraordinary but there are others coming (BlueHDi) that include a version emitting 82g/km.
Our car was nicely balanced to drive, quiet and we certainly had enough room. We didn't push engine or suspension hard but I hope to have a more detailed review in the next few weeks.
Top spec models have full LED daytime running lights, which is being claimed as a world first by the French maker.
The automaker has made it quite clear it is moving upmarket and the cabin underlines the intent. Smart, modern and clean with decent materials. Fresh, I'd say. Standard equipment (Access), I think, reflects this as well. It includes air con, cruise control, six airbags, front electric windows and Bluetooth.
Active trim adds dual-zone climate control, Hill Assist, rear parking sensors, 16ins alloys, integrated 9.7ins touchscreen, electric windows, front fogs, driver lumbar support and, they say, full-size spare wheel. The diesel I told you about in this trim costs from €22,990 and looks the most likely.
Top trim (Allure) has 17ins allots, front parking sensors, electric/folding mirrors and a 3.5ins colour instrument cluster.
Now this is where it gets interesting. They have devised a couple of equipment 'packs' which you can add and they are less costly than if you were to buy the individual bits separately.
For example, one pack costs €1,500 but would set you back €2,500 if individually assembled.
There is also a Personal Contract Plan (6.9pc) which costs from €219 a month.
And there's your plain ordinary finance at 3.9pc.
Finally, of all the colours I looked at I'd have to plump for the red. It shows it to best effect.
I call it a fresh look.
Concept on way in April
PEUGEOT will unveil its new four-seater concept at the Beijing motor show towards the end of April.
It is said to be a 'tease' from the future design and comes from the same line as the Onyx concept car.
They say it is 4.73m long and 1.31m tall with room for four and their luggage.
One worth watching out for.