Peugeot’s new 308 small family car is the latest version of the hugely successful nameplate with more than seven million worldwide sales over the generations, writes Trish Whelan.
The new 308 is built on a multi-power platform developed to incorporate a petrol engine along with an electric motor whilst preserving space on board and boot volume. Particular attention was given to weight reduction and balance to make sure the driving experience is as rewarding as possible.
The 308 has always been one of the best-looking small cars on the market but with this latest model the Lion brand has dared to change the body shape quite dramatically. Peugeot were very brave in their design continuing the model as a hatchback and bucking the current trend of upscaling cars to crossovers or SUVs. The result is a car that looks dynamic from every angle. And gorgeous!
The change in style includes an extended wheelbase that stretches the car’s silhouette and offers more space for rear passengers. A 20mm height reduction gives it a sleeker silhouette but does mean tall people will have to duck their heads getting in and out. Actual rear head and leg room once inside, though, is fine.
The first vehicle to bear the new Peugeot lion shield logo, displayed on the radiator grille, my car sat on smart 18-inch diamond cut two-tone alloy wheels. All grades are equipped with LED headlights complemented by huge vertical LED daytime running lights while the rear has LED 3D Peugeot new ‘claw effect’ lights.
The interior is very upmarket in design and execution. Premium materials are evident throughout. The cabin is nice and spacious. I particularly liked the design of the dash and all the technology on offer. Seats are both comfy and supportive and come with manual adjustments.
The i-Cockpit setup consists of a compact heating steering wheel, the centralising of radio, media, phone and driver-assistance systems controls, and a 10-inch digital instrument panel located at eye level. In the review car's top GT grade it moves into the third dimension with several display modes (navigation, radio/media, driver assistance, energy flow etc). As I have to raise my seat to gain the best driving position, I was just about able to view the digital speed above the steering wheel. The system also includes a new digital head-up display. A row of toggles below the multi-window 10-inch infotainment touchscreen include short cuts for air con settings, telephone contact, radio stations.
Boot space of 412 litres can expand to 1,323 litres with rear seats down.
While there are 1.2 petrol and 1.5 diesel options, my latest car was the 1.6 Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) petrol that produces 150bhp. The PHEV system consists of an 81kW electric motor and 12.4kWh electric battery that provides a combined output of 180bhp and 360Nm of torque. All engines have Peugeot’s excellent 8-speed automatic transmission.
Three trims are available. My top GT spec had a good reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control and speed limiter, lane keeping assist, heated steering wheel, sports pedals, Peugeot Connect and smartphone integration. There was also a driver sports pack that includes sport adjustments to the steering and accelerator response, as well as high-end driver assistance and safety features. There are four ‘C’ type USB ports and a wireless phone charging pad.
I was able to get a really good driving position and found this PHEV to be very refined with a lively drive and an immediate response to pressure on the accelerator pedal. I enjoyed the boost from the extra kick from the electric motor over the 1.2 petrol version which is also a fine choice in itself. The e-Save function allows you to save or regenerate all, or part of, the battery for later use during your journey. Another benefit is that you can travel up to 60kms in electric mode only which will suit those with shorter work commutes. This necessitates recharging the battery every night at home. Of course, you have petrol use for long journeys.
Charging the PHEV battery takes 3hrs 50mins using a 7.4kWh wall box, or 1hr 55mins using a 7.4 kWh wall box and optional 7.4kWh on-board charger, or 7hrs from a standard socket. This car was in tax Band A1 of €140. A more powerful, and more expensive 225hp version is also offered on the GT version. An all-electric version is expected later this year.
The 308 for Europe received four stars from Euro NCAP in 2022.
PRICE: The entry 130bhp petrol is from €31,765; the 1.5 diesel 130bhp from €33,865; the 180bhp PHEV from €47,495.