Peugeot’s 308 has always been a bit of a let down. Not quite up to par, or looking a little too different for the market segment it competes in. Not anymore!
To see why this family hatchback attained Car Of The Year 2014 we took a 1.2 litre Turbo e-THP petrol model for a spin. In Active trim our 308 would set you back £18,870 – including £525 for metallic paint.
This all-new 308 is certainly a departure of the flowing, bubbly lines of the previous model. Now it conforms to a much more traditional two box design. Much more befitting of its segment rivals.
It’s a rather good looker though. Small, squint headlights sit at the outer edges of the bodywork, framing the brand’s ‘floating grille’. Along the sides everything is kept fairly clean and slab sided apart from some taught lines in the rear quarter panel.
That rear C pillar is a little deep and can look unsightly from some angles, especially as the rear quarter glass is rather rounded by comparison.
At the back everything takes a very Germanic industrial look. A single style line cuts right across the back dividing the boot from the bumper. At the outer edges the LED claw style brake lights make an appearance.
All in all the design doesn’t mesh in too well with the brands overall language. But they are chasing sales in a competitive segment; so different is good on this occasion.
We didn’t hold out much hope for the little 3 cylinder 1.2 e-THP engine. Oh how we were wrong! This tiny powerhouse provides 130 BHP and 230 Nm of torque. This gives the 308 a 0-62 time of 9.6 seconds, and a top speed of 128 MPH.
It really does feel that nippy too! Plant your right foot and the thrummy little engine pulls you forward with ease. In fact it pulls well right across the rev range and at any speed.
The reason this little engine thrives so well is in part due to the 140 KG of weight saving made by Peugeot over the old model.
Its bonnet and front wings are made of aluminium, the boot is formed in thermoplastic and the rest of the savings come from the platform, design and assembly processes.
Handling wise the 308 takes lumps and bumps rather well, it’s a very smooth ride for a car at this price point. Taking to some back roads the sharp steering shines through but the lack of feel dulls the excitement of the plucky 1.2.
You do also get a slight amount of wallowy body roll when pushed harder, but the around town ride makes up for this.
Once inside this is where the game has really changed. Quality is on par with its arch nemesis the Golf, and dare I say it the minimalist design is better than the Germans attempt.
All of the heating, sat nav, and audio settings are controlled by the one central touch screen interface. This is how things should be in every car, it negates the need for a multitude of buttons and dials littering the interior.
The only part of the centre console that was a let-down came in the form of the silver trim adorning the lower half. It’s a bit flimsy looking and doesn’t really add much to the cabin as a whole.
Once again you find a smaller than average steering wheel with the dials visible above. One thing to note is the rev counter that actually runs counter clockwise…very French!
Soft touch plastic covers the dash and smart bits of aluminium are found here and there.
At the rear legroom is slightly cramped, definitely not best in class by any means. Four adults would struggle for comfort over a longer journey. But, you have to take the bad with the good. That cramped rear bench means you do get 470 litres of boot space, albeit 35 litres of that are under a false floor – that is a segment record.
The boot also has a nice large opening, making it easy to dump and retrieve a couple of suitcases.
Peugeot have really upped their game when it comes to the new 308. Interior quality is now excellent, its looks are fresh and more in keeping with the family hatch market, you shut the door and yes it sounds just like a….I don’t need to say it!
The plucky little 1.2 e-THP is a great engine, but like most small turbo charged units it has to be revved hard to get the best out of it. Over 200 town miles we only managed 35.1 MPG a far cry from the claimed 48.7 Urban rating.
Active trim would be the one to go for, it’s a step up from the already well kitted out Access model, but it gives you such niceties as 16” alloys, the 9.7” infotainment system, auto lights and wipers, sat nav and dual zone air con.
Peugeot 308 – Plucky little 1.2 e-THP engine, pliable ride, quality interior, cramped rear.
Owner / Editor of Carwitter – French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Follow @car_witter