Peugeot 308 review
The Peugeot 308 looks great, comes with loads of kit as standard and it’s pretty practical, too – just don’t expect passengers to enjoy sitting in its rather cramped back seats
What's not so good
Peugeot 308: what would you like to read next?
The Peugeot 308 is a practical family car that sports a futuristic interior and comes with a selection of frugal engines. The model was updated in 2017 with stylish new bumpers, a range of upgraded infotainment features and new safety tech.
Inside you’ll find the same tiny steering wheel and set of high-mounted dials as the old car – they make it feel sportier than a VW Golf and more modern than a Ford Focus.
A colourful 9.7-inch touchscreen infotainment system comes as standard on all models. It features a built-in TomTom satellite navigation system but MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring functions are available, too, so you can always use your phone’s navigation apps instead.
A decent range of seat adjustment means you’ll be able to get comfortable behind the wheel, even if you’re more than six-foot tall. Lumbar support – to help reduce backache on long journeys – is fitted as standard to all models and all but entry-level Active cars come with a vast panoramic glass roof as standard. It looks great but you’ll lose out on about 5cm of headroom in the front.
Your passengers won’t be quite so comfortable in the back seats, however. Headroom is too tight for six-footers to get comfortable – even without the glass roof – and legroom leaves a lot to be desired, too. Carrying three abreast is a tighter squeeze than in an Astra or a Golf as a result of the Peugeot 308’s narrow cabin, its small footwells and a large lump in the rear floor.
Where all that space has gone is clear when you open the Peugeot 308’s boot. Its 470-litre capacity is 90-litres bigger than a Golf’s – so there’s plenty of space for a baby buggy and four soft bags but there’s a large load lip to contend with if you want to load heavy or bulky items.
Fold the rear seats down in a 60:40 split and the step in the rear floor means it’s hard to make full use of the Peugeot 308’s impressive 1,309-litre load bay. A ski hatch is offered on Allure cars and above so you’ll be able for carrying longer items.
Peugeot 308 was designed to strip the VW Golf of its best-in-class crown and it gets achingly close to doing just that, only the poor rear legroom and unintuitive infotainment system let the side down
You can get the Peugeot 308 with three petrol and three diesel engines. The 130hp 1.2-litre petrol is quiet, fairly perky and will return around 45mpg – making it ideal if you spend most time pootling around town. Spend more time on the motorway? Pick a 1.6-litre 120hp diesel – it’s quieter at speed than the petrol, fast enough to keep up with motorway traffic and returns around 50mpg.
The 308 deals with bumps well and is easy to drive thanks to its light steering and pedals but the Vauxhall Astra strikes a better balance between comfort and sporty handling. All models come with a manual gearbox but you can upgrade to a six-speed automatic for £1,200 – or pick a GT model with an eight-speed automatic as standard – to help make long journeys and traffic jams a little less tiresome.
Euro NCAP gave the Peugeot 308 five-stars when it was tested in 2013.
The Peugeot 308 isn’t just more practical than a VW Golf, it’s more stylish, impressively comfortable and comes well equipped – it’s just let down by its very cramped rear seats.
If you want to see what kind of offers to expect, go straight to our Peugeot 308 deals page.
The Peugeot 308 has plenty of room for the driver and front-seat passenger, as well as a huge boot, but that comes at the expense of space in the rear seats
The Volkswagen Golf is such a benchmark that it's a real feather in the 308's cap that it beats the Golf in any way - even if it's just for boot space
As with all its rivals, the Peugeot 308 offers plenty of space for tall adults in the front and both seats are height adjustable. As we’ve already said some drivers might find it tricky to get a comfortable driving position that gives them a clear view of the speedometer.
The Peugeot 308 has a massive boot for its size, but that comes at the expense of rear passenger legroom, which isn’t up to the standards of the VW Golf or Vauxhall Astra. That might not be a problem if you’re only going to be carrying children – in fact, the added luggage capacity may well be preferable – but tall adults will feel crushed.
Storage space is also a little down on the VW Golf thanks to a small glovebox, but elsewhere the Peugeot 308 matches the best in class with numerous small cubbyholes, large door bins and a storage area under the front seats’ centre armrest.
While the Golf might have the measure of the Peugeot 308 when it comes to passenger space, it doesn’t stand a chance for boot capacity – with 470 litres versus 380, the Peugeot’s is nearly 25 per cent larger! Only the 590-litre boot in the Skoda Octavia is significantly bigger.
The 308 is fun to drive, as a Peugeot should be, but it also has a comfortable ride and a quiet cabin – it’s a deft all-rounder.
The turbocharged three-cylinder 1.2-litre engine is really impressive
The Peugeot 308’s engine range has been brought bang up to date thanks to the arrival of an all-new range of 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrols that can be had with a variety of power outputs. The rest of the engine range is a match for the Peugeot’s main rivals and includes 1.6-litre petrols and diesels, as well as a more powerful 2.0-litre diesel.
Ever since Ford launched its clever 1.0-litre EcoBoost engines other manufacturers have been playing catch-up and now it’s Peugeot’s turn to offer an alternative. Called PureTech, the 1.2-litre petrol is designed to give the performance of a conventional 1.6-litre unit, but with cheaper running costs.
You get three versions to choose from with 82, 110 or 130hp. None are massively quick on paper, but feel more spritely than the figures suggest in practice and emit a willing engine note when accelerating. While both the 110 and 130 come fitted with a turbocharger, the 82 does without. It takes 13.3 seconds to sprint from 0-62mph – more than two seconds slower than the more powerful units. Fuel economy is also slightly less impressive – with 55.4mpg possible, compared to an identical 61.4mpg figure for the other two.
The 1.6-litre petrol fitted to GT models offers a welcome boost in performance, but still doesn’t cost the earth to run. It combines performance, of 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds, with fuel economy of 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 130g/km.
If we were to pick a star of the show it would have to be the 1.6-litre 120 BlueHDi diesel, which can return a remarkable combined fuel economy figure of 91.1mpg. Performance is brisk, too, with 0-62mph coming up in 9.7 seconds.
The 2.0-litre diesel fitted to the GT is quickest of all, but its 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds doesn’t do justice to the car’s impressive overtaking ability that can be attributed to its impressive 295Ib ft torque figure. No matter which of the four diesel models you choose, all return fuel economy of more than 65mpg.
Peugeot used to be known for building fun-to-drive family hatchbacks, but after the 306 of the ‘90s the company arguably lost its way a little. The Peugeot 308 brings some of the feel of the old 306 back. Its small steering wheel feels sporty and threads the car through bends accurately.
The suspension is also well judged. Corner with enthusiasm and body roll is kept in check, but the 308 also offers a ride that’s comfortable on a variety of road surfaces.
If you are looking for a sportier drive, but don’t want to shell out on the GTi model, then the GT is well worth considering. Both in diesel and petrol forms it is quick and comes with firmer suspension that makes the car even better in the bends. Pressing the GT’s Sport button makes the steering more responsive (boosting your confidence in fast corners) and sharpens the throttle’s responses. We’re not so keen on the fake engines noise that – on the diesel model we tested at least – is a little at odds with the swift-but-relaxing nature of the rest of the driving experience.
Having said all that, if you’re looking for a fun-to-drive hatchback we would first consider the excellent new Vauxhall Astra, which is surprisingly entertaining even in standard form.
The Peugeot 308’s interior centres around a large infotainment screen – it’s a masterpiece in minimalist design, but not a lesson in intuitiveness.