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Peugeot 308 Review

Find out more about the Peugeot 308 in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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6
Out of 10
Average Price £10,134
Review

 

The Peugeot 308 was introduced in 2008 as a replacement for the 308 hatchback. Its ethos was to bring a fashionable look to the family car market while remaining good value for money.

 

Upon its introduction, it was met with a warm reception from the automotive media. Most liked the updated if a little dull interior, as well as the more modern exterior. However, as it used the same platform as the car it replaced, the driving experience hadn’t moved on a great deal.

 

While it never set the world alight with its sales figures, it did manage worldwide annual sales of about 250,000 between 2009 and 2011.

Latest model

 

The latest model was introduced in 2013 and brought modernised styling and a much classier interior to the 308.

 

Importantly, it ditched the now-ancient platform it had shared with the 307 and now used the same underpinnings as the Citroen C4 Picasso. This helped improve the driving dynamics, but also gave the designers more freedom to ditch the tall, ungainly appearance of the previous generation.

 

Inside, the interior was a vast departure from the previous car’s dullness. It’s now much classier than before and the perceived quality is much improved.

 

The only downside is that PSA Group, the umbrella company that owns Peugeot, Citroen and DS, is really bad at driving positions. The 308 is afflicted with the group’s annoying issue where the top of the steering wheel blocks the view of the dials for most drivers.

 

However, it’s still an impressive package, which contributed to the fact that it won European Car of the Year in 2014.

 

Value for money

 

Peugeot’s key selling point is value for money, and that’s evident on the entry-level product. The least expensive trim is called Access and starts from £16,375 – a base version of the Ford Focus will set you back £19,495.

 

Unsurprisingly, kit levels are fairly low at this price point. The 15-inch steel wheels do a great job of taking some of the class out of the exterior design, but for those shopping on a budget it has all the basic essentials such as DAB radio, cruise control and air conditioning.

 

Further up the range, features such as LED headlights, 16- to 18-inch alloy wheels and leather interior packages lift the class and quality.

 

There’s also a hot hatch version called GTI 270 by Peugeot Sport. It gets unique alloy wheels, a sporty body kit and a go-faster engine. Under the bonnet is a 1.6-litre petrol engine making 268bhp. However, at nearly £30,000 there are much better alternatives.

 

Looks and image

 

The Peugeot’s trump card is its stylish looks. While many of its rivals keep things conservative, the French hatchback’s classy appearance makes it an excellent option for the style-focused.

 

Peugeot has drastically improved the handling characteristics of the 308 by building it on the modern C4 Picasso platform. Before the model was updated in 2013, it had a reputation for being one of the poorest handling cars in its class, so keen drivers should steer clear of these models. However, second-generation 308s are up there with the best of them.

 

Inside, the appearance of quality is impressive. Under greater scrutiny, some areas such as the trim beneath the touchscreen feel pretty cheap, but the overall impression is good. The only downside is that the small steering wheel – which would ordinarily be quite welcome – blocks the view of the dials for most drivers.

 

In general driving the 308 is quite comfortable – though those with 18-inch alloy wheels do suffer more with road noise. Unfortunately, this softness does result in a little sloppiness in corners, but for the most part the 308 is great to drive.

Space and practicality

 

Whether you consider the 308’s spacious and practical depends entirely on your needs.

 

For those looking for plenty of luggage space, the Peugeot excels. With a 470-litre boot, it’s beaten only by the Skoda Octavia in this segment and comfortably beats the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

However, if rear passenger space is important the 308 falls down. It’s okay for kids, but adults will find it cramped and uncomfortable even for shorter journeys.

 

That means that it’s still pretty appealing for young families as the kids will be quite happy in the rear, while the boot is big enough to swallow all the assorted bits and bobs needed for a trip away with young ones.

 

The Peugeot 308 was tested by Euro NCAP in 2013 and received five stars. It excelled in adult protection, getting a score of 92 per cent, while its child occupant score was a respectable 79 per cent.

 

Engines

 

There’s a good variety of engines to suit every need, from low running costs to performance driving.

 

There are two petrol engine with five different power outputs between them. The 1.2-litre engine is available with 81bhp, 109bhp and 129bhp. The middle of the two offers the best economy, with 70.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 95g/km. This is because the less powerful engine does not come equipped with stop and start technology.

 

For buyers looking for a bit more performance, the 1.6-litre petrols are the best port of call. Offering 202bhp in GT trim and 268bhp in full GTI trim, they’re not very economical but offer the most fun.

 

As for diesels, the 1.6-litre unit is available with 98bhp or 118bhp. Again, the higher powered engine is the most economical, achieving 91.1mpg on the combined cycle.

 

The larger 2.0-litre engine is available with 148bhp and 179bhp, with the first of the two here being more economical by returning 72.4mpg on the combined cycle.

 

There are three transmissions available, with a five- and six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. The lack of a sixth gear in the cheapest manual will mean that fuel economy will suffer for those who do motorway speeds regularly, so avoid if that’s the case for you.

 

Running costs

Where the Peugeot 308 really excels is in running costs, with the diesels in particular offering excellent fuel economy.

 

Unless you do very few miles, it’s best avoiding the entry level petrol as it’s not as economical as its stop/start-equipped equivalents, so the initial saving will quickly be negated.

 

The petrol engines offer impressive fuel economy in 1.2-litre guise, with the smaller-wheeled versions hitting more than 60mpg. It’s the diesels that win here though, offering about 80 to 90 miles per gallon.

 

And it’s good news for tax, too. Most diesel variants emit less than 100g/km of CO2, with the worst culprit emitting just 108g/km. All cars cost £140 per year after the first year, while the first year cost is based on emissions – the cheapest diesel 308 costs £100 in the first year, while the most expensive costs just £140.

 

For those buying a first-generation car used, opt for the 1.6-litre diesel for cheap running costs. It offers about 70mpg and is tax-exempt.

Things to look out for

 

Reliability has typically been a Peugeot weak point in the past, but the 308 appears to have turned the tide of opinion among owners.

 

Surveys of owners shows the 308 score particularly well in build quality, reliability, running costs and the comfortable ride quality.

 

On older models there are still some gremlins, though. Windscreen seals are a known poor point, so make sure there’s no dampness inside. Electrics are another issue for the Peugeot, so take time to check everything works.

 

There have been various recalls over the years that need looking at. These include a fuse box, wiring for the lighting, short circuits in diesels, braking efficiency, weak bonnet catches, power steering problems and a faulty reverse gear. Some models even had a handbrake problem where the passenger could accidentally release it by putting their foot in the wrong place…

 

Rivals

 

At the top of this segment is the Ford Focus but you have to pay for it. The entry-level Focus is about £4,000 more expensive than the cheapest 308, but the Ford is marginally better-equipped.

 

Once you start upping the specification of the 308 the price increases quickly, but the equivalent Peugeot will always be cheaper. That said, the RS model is only a few thousand pounds more than the 308 GTI, but offers much more performance.

 

The Volkswagen Golf’s base model is on a par price-wise with the Peugeot but is fairly Spartan inside. To get a Golf in equivalent spec to the 308 it’ll come at quite a premium.

 

The Vauxhall Astra competes on price with the 308 and offers a similarly pleasant interior, but the ride is not as compliant.

 

Depreciation warning

 

The Peugeot 308 does fairly well in the depreciation stakes, but most rivals will hold their value better. It’s predicted that a new 308 will hold about 39 per cent of its value over its first three years.

 

The best models are the entry level 1.2-litre models, which retain 43 per cent over the same period.

Which 308 to Pick

Trims Explained

The Peugeot 308 comes in five primary trims. Here are the differences in the range:

Access

The basic Access model might be the most affordable, but it’s also the least interesting version of the stylish hatchback. It gets cloth upholstery, manual rear windows and air conditioning, with cruise control perhaps the only impressive bit of kit. On the outside, the 15-inch alloy wheels lower the stylish looks somewhat.

It costs from £16,320.

Active

Step up to the Active model and the range of engines is much bigger, with prices starting at £19,470.

The seats get lumbar support, while the steering wheel is wrapped in leather to add a more premium feel and the infotainment system is upgraded to a touchscreen unit with integrated satellite navigation.

Allure

The mid-range trim is Allure. It come with front and rear parking sensors, electric folding mirrors and an electric parking brake. Front fog lights are fitted as standard.

Prices start from £19,809.

GT Line

To get sportier styling without the associated running costs, the GT Line model is the best bet. It gets 18-inch ‘Diamond’ alloy wheels, full LED headlights and sporty styling touches. That continues inside with a ‘GT’ steering wheel design.

Prices start from £22,109.

GTI

At the top of the range is the GTI, which starts from £28,489. It gets the most powerful version of the 1.6-litre engine and gets the option of special two-tone paint. Inside there are special bucket seats and a unique GTI leather steering wheel.

What to look out for

  1. Entry level model is excellent value compared to rivals
  2. Those who need rear passenger space for adults should look elsewhere
  3. Boot space is impressive though, making it suitable for young families
  4. If low running costs are key, the 308 is one of the best in the segment – particularly in diesel form
  5. Lower models hold their value best, but are least interesting to own
  6. GTI model very expensive compared to extremely capable rivals like Ford Focus RS
  7. Has an impressive five-star NCAP safety rating
  8. First-generation 1.6-litre diesel comes with free road tax and 70mpg
  9. Sit in the car and get the driving position comfortable before buying, as steering wheel blocks view of dials for many
  10. First-generation models aren’t great to drive but are very comfortable

Review Rating

"If you’re on the hunt for a family hatchback then the new Peugeot 308 needs to be on your list.... Read More"