Peugeot 301

3 Dec, 2012 10:00am Steve Fowler

We drive the new cut-price saloon from Peugeot to find out if it deserves a wider audience


Peugeot's boss Maxime Picart told us that if there’s demand for the 301 in Western Europe, it’ll consider selling it here. For under £10,000, the 301 offers lots of car for the cash. Like Dacias, it lacks sophistication, but has an honest charm to it. It’s usable and comfortable, while the low price makes an unloved small saloon body style look appealing. Go on Peugeot, give it a go in the UK.

Dacia has got a lot to answer for. Renault’s budget brand has made many other car makers sit up and take notice – not least Peugeot, which has reacted with this, the 301 saloon.

First, the bad news: the 301 isn’t destined for the UK, heading instead for what Peugeot sees as developing markets – Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Africa, South America and China.

With a price tag of less than £10,000, the 301 has plenty of appeal. It takes styling cues from the SR1 concept car and features lots of the 208’s design flourishes.

In fact, the 301 is based on a stretched and widened 208 platform, although at 4.4 metres it’s longer than a 308. There’s bags of rear legroom and a huge 640-litre boot, which can be expanded to 1,352 litres with the split-fold rear seats down. This is a true global car that’s cheap to make and hardy enough to be used in extreme weather, and over pretty awful roads, too.

The interior has a no-nonsense feel to it – there’s none of the squishy plastics that top the dash on the Peugeots which are on sale in Western Europe.

However, the interior is decent and you can add some posh kit, too – Bluetooth, iPod connection and air-con are available on some cars. Safety kit is limited to ABS and ESP, plus four airbags.

The mechanicals are tried and tested, but reasonably up-to-date. We drove a 301 with Peugeot’s 92bhp 1.6 diesel that was sprightly enough, if not scintillatingly quick. Yet it was nicely refined. You can also get the latest three-cylinder petrol engine producing 72bhp, plus a 115bhp 1.6 petrol.

The ride quality is bordering on old-school Peugeot, so it’s comfy with just a vague hint of firmness. The handling’s a bit wallowy, though, and the electric power-steering isn’t exactly full of feel.

So it’s not exactly a hoot to drive, but the 301 would work well on our dreadful roads.

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I must be seriously weird but i do like the look of this car, i am sure it is like all other Pugs and will have faults galore, but i really do like it.....

The old generalisations surface again alas

I do like the look of this car. 3 box shrunken-508 style looks better than the 2 box 308 (though I was one of the few fans of the 306 sedan). If it can be sold for under 10k it'd be a successor to the ever-moving-upward Octavia.

Go for it peugeot: might actually sell some cars in the uk if you do! Looks like a nice little thing...

no generalisations at all how about 11 recalls this year alone. and 28th out of 30 in the driver power survey..... that says it all really doesn't it. And I did say that I liked it.....

You are joking right? There is no way this car is anywhere near as good as an Octavia! Octavias are reliable and top of the surveys, Pugs are always loitering near the bottom!

Here here, well said. I think Toyota and Peugeot are trying to see which can recall the most cars each year!

AE ran a yah boo story about Vauxhall recalls some time ago as well.
I have a friend with an elderly Honda Jazz that has recently had a recall. Good for Honda! Much better that manufacturers put up with the yah boo coverage and are straightforward rather than just hope the problem will go away.

As an example of the latter philosophy I can cite a colleague whose husband had three sucessive examples of the same popular hatchback. Each suffered identical failures of an electric window lift. No recall here, just plug on in the same way hoping no-one will notice. Unfortunately when the same thing happens three times to one person they certainly will!

Will this car be sold in our shore in australia?

If this car was made in, say Thailand, the quality would be up there with the top entries. The shape is just right. I suffer from terminal Peugeotphilia and have owned 5 in the past - but my favorites are the old rear drives, e.g. 504, 505. A perfect car for jumping in, driving all day on "interesting" roads, and arriving 500 miles later fresh and able to carry on, That takes serious comfort, something Peugeot used to specialize in, but have forgotten lately, with the drive to unachieved urban sophistication. Who cares if the finishing touches are less than Benz quality, if the basics work and the car runs like a proper Peugeot, it'll do well. I need a roomy car that feels good on the road. Simple is best. Peugeot know how to do this - few others do.

Key specs

  • Price: From £10,000 (est)
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
  • Power: 92bhp
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 11.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 112mph
  • Economy: 68.9mpg
  • CO2: 108g/km
  • Equipment: Four airbags, ABS, ESP, Bluetooth, iPod connection
  • On sale: Not in the UK