Peugeot 308

Classy small hatchback with some premium touches

7.1
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 10 reviews
  • Quality much improved
  • Good ride and handling
  • Big boot
  • Styling is a little dull
  • Unintuitive infotainment system
  • Astra is better to drive
 

£16,375 - £27,325 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

50 - 91 MPG

Review

The Peugeot 308 is the French firm’s rival to small family hatchbacks such as the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and new Vauxhall Astra. Following the ethos of the larger 508, it has taken a big step up in quality compared to the model it replaces.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the interior, which emulates the car’s classy exterior styling. All expect the basic Access model get a 9.7-inch touchscreen that controls systems such as the car’s ventilation and stereo.

As in the smaller 208, the 308 gets a small steering wheel with high-set dials that sit above it, meaning your view of of the speedometer can sometimes be obscured. In the back passenger space has been compromised in favour of offering a huge boot. If you need even more load-lugging capacity, read our review of the 308 SW estate.

There’s a strong range of engines to choose from – all offering impressive fuel economy, even in the fast GTi model that we have tested elsewhere. Most buyers are likely to go for the excellent 1.2-litre PureTech petrol or the super-frugal 1.6-litre BlueHDI diesel.

The range kicks off with Access trim – which includes a DAB radio, cruise control and air-conditioning but, as it lacks alloy wheels and the dashboard touchscreen, we would recommend the next-level-up Active model.

A facelifted model, with styling inspired by the China-only 308 Saloon, is set to be launched in the near future. Take a look at how this new Peugeot 308 could look and read our dedicated article for full details.

Buy your 308 from one of carwow’s trusted franchised dealers and you stand to make an average saving of £4,840.

Cheapest to buy: 1.2-litre 82 Access petrol

Cheapest to run: 1.6-litre 120 Active diesel

Fastest model: 1.6-litre 205 GT petrol

Most popular model: 1.2-litre 82 Access petrol

The new 308’s interior represents a huge step up from the model that came before it. The 9.7-inch touchscreen that comes fitted to all but the the most basic model gives the dashboard a clean, uncluttered appearance. It’s not the easiest system to use, however – lacking the useful menu buttons you get on a VW Golf system.

It does come with sat-nav as standard, but its instructions aren’t always easy to follow and  there’s no clearly marked menu for inputing a postcode. Quality is pretty decent, though, with the majority of the interior being soft to the touch and finished off with classy piano black and metal trims.

Peugeot 308 passenger 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 308 matches the best in class with numerous small cubbyholes, large door bins and a storage area under the front seats’ centre armrest.

Peugeot 308 boot space

While the Golf might have the measure of the 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.

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 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 response (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 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 he 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.

Peugeot 308 petrol engines

Ever since Ford launched its clever 1.0-litre EcoBoost engines other manufacturers have been playing catch up and now its Peugeot’s turn to offer an alternative. Christened 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. Whichever PureTech you choose, road tax costs no more than £30 a year.

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, for annual road tax of £140 a year.

Peugeot 308 diesel engines

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 and is free to tax. 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 and cost no more than £30 to tax.

There aren't many reviews of the 308's 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine yet, but it's an engine we're familiar with from several other Peugeots - and indeed MINIs, since the engine was co-developed with BMW.

In 153 bhp format it's a punchy little unit that "pulls strongly through the first few ratios" and hits 62 mph in 8.4 seconds. It's smooth and refined too - while average economy nearly hits 50 mpg. Worth a look for those unimpressed by diesel engines.

The majority of 308 reviewers so far have sampled the 1.6 e-HDi unit, and opinions are mixed.

One tester goes as far as saying he wouldn't recommend it - but that's largely based on the fact that Peugeot is expected to replace it soon with something a little more modern and capable of a stunning 91 mpg

It still has plenty to recommend it, though - 95 g/km of CO2 drops it comfortably into the zero-tax band, and official combined economy is 76.3 mpg. It's refined too and has more shove than you'd expect from a small engine in a car the size of the 308.

These are general reviews of the Peugeot 308 that cover the car without going into detail on one particular engine. They give you a good idea of what the car is like overall.

These days few buyers in this segment will accept anything less than a full-blown five-star rating from Euro NCAP and the new 308 doesn’t disappoint in this respect.

All the usual suspects are found throughout the range such as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and more airbags than you can count. If safety really is your thing Peugeot also offers a Driver Assistance Pack that includes dynamic cruise control, an emergency collision alert system, automatic braking system and even blind spot monitoring.

Euro NCAP rated the VW Golf slightly higher than the 308 for adult, child and pedestrian protection.

Ignoring the GTi there are five 308 trim levels to choose from. Access gets the ball rolling but, although it is the cheapest in the range, it is worth avoiding because it lacks the smart-looking 9.7-inch touchscreen fitted to all other models.

Peugeot 308 Active

Along with the touchscreen (fitted to Active models and above) comes the useful bonus of a standard sat-nav system. Our pick of the trim levels also comes with 16-inch alloy wheels as standard that compliment the 308’s premium styling. A leather-bound steering wheel and gearknob boost the interior’s appeal, too, and it comes loaded with kit including auto lights and wipers, a rear-view mirror that cancels out headlight glare and rear parking sensors.

Peugeot 308 Allure

Unless you want the added catchet of larger 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and front fog lights there’s no standout reason to pay extra for the Allure model. Although it does add front parking sensors, mirrors that fold away from harm when the car is parked, and an electric parking brake.

Peugeot 308 GT Line

GT Line models look a lot more distinctive than versions from lower down the range thanks to a list of sporty touches that includes 18-inch alloy wheels, twin exhaust pipes, tinted windows and flashy sequential indicators that scroll in the direction that the car’s turning.

Peugeot 308 GT

Unlike Allure and GT Line models, GT trim is only available with the top-of-the-range engines and brings some technical improvements that make the 308 better to drive. Additions include the Driver Sport pack, which adds a Sport button that sharpens up the car’s throttle and makes the steering more responsive, and lowered suspension. They all make the car feel more alive in the corners, while keyless entry and automatic cruise control mean it is easier to live with everyday.

Conclusion

Peugeot set out to give the new 308 the quality feel to beat the Volkswagen Golf and it gets surprisingly close to doing just that thanks to its chunky exterior looks and well-built, simply styled interior. The breadth of engines choices also get close to matching the VW – not least the super efficient diesel – and to our minds the 308 is as good to drive as a Golf, even if it has been scuppered somewhat by the arrival of the sweet-handling new Vauxhall Astra. In fact, if you can live with the 308’s tricky-to-operate infotainment system and tight rear legroom, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it, but the VW Golf remains the class-leader for now.

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