The five-door hatchback market is a competitive one, but Peugeot’s new 308 is a very strong contender.

It’s a good-looking, functional motor, with plenty of space and reasonable economy too. It is also the fourth Peugeot to receive a Car of the Year award.

The 308 is the lightest vehicle in the segment and it is lower and wider that its predecessor. A floating front grille and a strong lighting signature dominates the front of the car and the striking illumination continues at the rear, with the three Peugeot lion claws drawn by piercing red LED lamps.

It has nine engines to choose from – four petrol and five diesels. Power ranges from 82 to 155bhp for petrol engines and for diesels, from 92 to 115bhp. The reduced weight gives it sharper handling and the drive is good – a very capable and comfortable performance on any road surface and notably quiet too.

I drove the 1.6-litre top end Feline trim, which had generous standard equipment including 18” alloys, panoramic glass roof, dynamic cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and keyless entry.

The interior is superb - step inside and the first thing you’ll notice is the simple, uncluttered dash, giving it a minimalist and upmarket feel. This subtlety is possible because of a large 9.7-inch touchscreen, which brings together all the controls centrally and allows you to manage air conditioning, driving aids, multimedia, navigation, telephone and vehicle settings.

Practical information can be accessed in real time to make every day driving easier, such as nearby available parking spaces, price of fuel at local service stations, traffic information, weather and so on. Only thing I found less than straightforward was the satnav, which was a bit fiddly.

The rectangular-shaped 470-litre boot is spacious; 35-litres of this is divided storage compartments under the floor mat. The low loading sill and the wide opening make loading the accommodating space easy. There is all the usual standard safety equipment, together with a Driver Assistance Pack, which is available as an option. This incorporates Dynamic Cruise Control, Emergency Collision Alert System and an Emergency Collision Braking System.

There’s a lot to like about the new 308, which went on sale earlier this year. It is justifiably confident in its intention to steal sales from competitors such as Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and the VW Golf.

Peugeot 308 Feline
On the road: £21,350
Top speed: 132mph
0-62mph: 8.4 seconds
Fuel: 48.7mpg (combined)
CO2 emissions: 129g/km