27 Sep 2016

Portugese wheels

I have just been driving around Portugal for three weeks in a Peugeot 308 diesel rental car. Over the years I have been a Peugeot fan. I was responsible for Peugeot sales and marketing for Australia from 1981 to 1989 and I still own a Peugeot 206 which my wife drives. Sadly after the 206 Peugeot lost the plot. Their build quality fell far short of Japanese standards and their cars were just ho hum. But lately they seem to have fully recovered their mojo. The latest 208 with its 3 cylinder turbo motor and 8 speed auto has received rave reviews and my personal experience driving the latest 308 over 1300 kms was a real eye opener. The car was really well built,fully equipped,it handled and rode well, the gearbox and steering were excellent and the power and particularly the economy from the diesel motor were outstanding. I managed 5.6 litres per 100kms including long high speed stretches on the autoroutes. In fact it was so frugal initially I thought that the fuel gauge was not functioning. It was a marked contrast to the very ordinary Nissan Sentra I rented in California a few months back.

The very impressive Peugeot 308 diesel rental car making a rare stop for fuel.
The car scene in Portugal seems pretty dull. Because of the difficult parking and narrow roads in the cities,the high price of fuel,the low incomes and high taxes like France,Spain and Italy most cars in Portugal are small and diesel. There are a few of the usual suspects in bigger cars - particularly Mercedes with the usual supporting cast of Audis and BMWs but I only saw a couple of Porsche Boxsters,a handful of late model Porsches and not a single early Porsche. I did not see a single Bentley,Ferrari or Lambo and in my three weeks I did not see one old classic car.
I did see quite a few old Renault 4s and Citroen Amis. In fact I reckon that now there are more Renault 4s on Portugese roads than there are on French roads.

Portugal is a great driving country. The roads are good,the traffic is light and I only saw police on the roads once. No wonder so many car companies are choosing Portugal for car launches.

A typical Portugese R4 -in this case 29 years old and apparently still going strong.

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