Peugeot 308 review

Our Rating: 
2013 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The new Peugeot 308 is an award-winning family hatch with a focus on comfort and quality

Generous equipment, comfortable ride, smooth diesels
Patchy interior quality, clunky manual gearbox, bland looks

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The Peugeot 308 is a family hatchback aimed at mainstream cars like the Volkswagen GolfSEAT Leon and Ford Focus. It’s a massive step up over the old 307, and was even awarded European Car of the Year by an independent judging panel in 2014.

It looks great, has an upmarket interior and feels good to drive, and offers a really attractive ownership proposition thanks to its excellent fuel economy and fast-improving dealer service.

While you wouldn’t guess, it actually shares its underpinnings with the larger Citroen C4 Picasso, but that means it benefits from the same lightweight construction. It’s up to 140kg lighter than the previous generation car, and capable of up to 88mpg.

Best hatches to buy now 

The Peugeot 308 trim level range consists of Access, Active, Allure, GT-Line and a range-topping GT warm hatch, which gets exclusive petrol and diesel engines. This new model is more GT than GTI and comes impressively well-equipped, however the mid-range Active and Allure trims are likely to offer enough equipment for most buyers as the 308 comes with a healthy level of standard kit. 

Buyers are well catered for when it comes to the Peugeot 308's engines. There is a wide range of efficient engines, with 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesels, and three, three-cylinder petrols including the frugal 1.2-litre e-THP. The 308 is available with a five or six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed automatic

The 308 range currently consists of the five-door hatch and practical SW estate. A 308 hot hatch is on the cards, too, showing Peugeot's intent to seriously take on the Volkswagen Golf GTI. There has been no word on whether or not Peugeot will be adding a 308 CC convertible to the latest line-up, though. 

Our choice: Peugeot 308 1.6-litre e-HDi 115bhp Allure

Engines, performance and drive


An all-new platform underpins the 308, which has been designed to provide a blend of cruising comfort and sharp handling.

On the whole, Peugeot has delivered on its promise of sharper dynamics, as the 308 has decent turn-in and feels agile in corners. The GT model gets a clever Sport button, which sharpens the throttle response, adds weight to the steering, turns the dials red and uses the stereo speakers to deliver a racier engine note. The sound is a welcome addition in petrol-powered models, but feels a bit unnecessary on the diesels.

In addition to the 202bhp turbo in the GT, the Peugeot 308 can be powered by one of three, three-cylinder turbocharged engines for petrol fans: the 1.2 VTi, 1.2 e-HTP and 1.6 THP offering 82bhp, 110bhp and 125bhp respectively.

Peugeot 308 hatchback 2013 rear tracking

On the diesel side, buyers can opt for one of four diesels: the 1.6 HDi, 1.6 e-HDi, 1.6 BlueHDi, or the most powerful engine in the range, the 150bhp 2.0-litre BlueHDi, which is also available in GT models. 

Our choice of 308 is the 1.6-litre e-HDi. It's clearly set up for comfort rather than outright pace, but its diesel engine is hushed, and returns a very credible combined cycle of 74.3mpg.

If impressive performance with strong efficiency is what you’re looking for, then the Peugeot 2.0-litre BlueHDi is worth considering. It’s smooth and hushed around town and, for an extra £900 over the 1.6-litre engine, it’s reasonable value, too. However, the more efficient diesel will be the smarter choice for most. The 308’s smooth and refined three-cylinder petrol unit is a gutsy performer, pulling strongly from around 2,000rpm, but the six-speed box is clunky – a problem that affects all 308 models. The new six-speed auto does solve this, however. It costs a further £1,000 to spec over the manual, but provides much cleaner and smoother gear changes. 

The Peugeot delivers superb refinement, too. The GT gets its own set-up that’s firm yet still comfortable – in fact, it’s more comfortable than other models if you spec bigger wheels. It handles tidly, too, erring on the side of comfort rather than thrills. 

Across the range, there’s slightly more body roll than in the SEAT Leon, while the steering lacks the feel of the Mazda 3's set-up.

It’s expected that the 308 GTI will be powered by the 270bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine from Peugeot's Audi TT rival, the RCZ-R.

MPG, CO2 and running costs


The Peugeot 308 is one of the most economical and efficient cars in its class due to its lighter platform and improved aerodynamics.

Our choice of 308, the 1.6-litre e-HDI diesel, has a combined cycle of 78.5mpg, and emits 95g/CO2. Petrol engines, however, are less impressive with an average CO2 figure of 130g/km.

The higher-output 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel has 150bhp and emits 105g/km CO2 in Allure trim, but economy suffers slightly as a result. This still returns an impressive fuel consumption figure of 70.6mpg on a combined cycle. The headline figures go to the 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel, though - returning 88.3mpg and emitting just 87g/km of CO2. The 2.0-litre unit is smoother, though and its stop-start system is fluid.

The 1.2-three-cylinder petrol engine also offers decent running costs. Paired with the auto it will return 54.3mpg and 119g/km of CO2 in comparison to the manual’s 58.9mpg and 110g/km – so a year’s road tax costs £30, rather than £20.

Peugeot also offers a monthly payment scheme for servicing, which works out at around £600 for three years’ maintenance.

There are financial pitfalls, however. The 308 suffers from weak residuals, with our experts predicting the Peugeot will retain just 38.7 per cent of its value after three years - with the comparable SEAT Leon retaining around £1,000 more over this period.

Interior, design and technology


The influence of Peugeot's latest design language is clear to see on the 308. Taking cues from the 208 supermini and 2008 crossover, the new car replaces the uninspiring design of the old car with a more upright stance - similar to that of the Volkswagen Golf - displaying plenty of neat details dotted around the exterior.

The Peugeot 308 is arguably one of the best-looking cars in its class, with slim lights and a narrow grille featuring across the range. On higher-spec models, distinctive LED headlamps add a touch of class. The bulging wheelarches, slim rear screen and small rear light clusters add an air of aggression to the 308's stance. The GT model comes with a full panoramic roof, keyless go, stunning 18-inch alloy wheels, lowered suspension and part-Alcantara sports seats plus subtle body changes that are available with all other engines in GT-Line trim.

The 308's interior is in keeping with Peugeot's current run of classy design and impressive quality - similar to that of class leading SEAT Leon. The dashboard layout is clutter-free, with most systems being controlled via a central touchscreen angled towards the driver. However, conducting simple actions such as altering the cabin temperature can be time-consuming due to the complex nature of the sub-menus.  

Another issue that affects the 308, is that like in the 208, Peugeot has placed the dials high on the dash, and the small steering wheel doesn't adjust up enough for some drivers to see them through it. If you need to lower the wheel a little and do so, then the wheel can obscure the odometer – some people find this a real problem, but we advise you to try it for yourself before ruling it out.

There are few complaints about the quality, though. There are plenty of soft-touch materials throughout the cabin, while soft leather is used for the steering wheel and gear knob. Plenty of kit is offered, too, including dual-zone climate control, sat-nav and rear parking sensors.

Peugeot 308 SW - cabin

Very few extras are offered in the 308 range, thanks in part to a generous standard kit list that also includes a digital radio. Options that can be ticked consist of metallic paint and a Cielo glass roof.

If, however, you want heated leather seats, you'll have to choose the pricier Allure or GT spec cars, but even then they're an option. A word of warning, though – the massage function isn’t particularly effective, and top-spec models are expensive. You can buy a well-equipped BMW 1 Series for the price of the flagship 308 GT.

Practicality, comfort and boot space


The practicality of the Peugeot 308 is something of a mixed bag. While access to the rear seats is better than that of the SEAT Leon and Mazda 3 thanks to wider door access, the legroom in the rear is merely average.

The cramped rear does mean that the boot capacity swells to an impressive 470 litres with the rear seats in place, and two under-floor storage bins expand this by a further 35 litres. Overall, Peugeot has given the 308 90 more litres than the Volkswagen Golf.

Peugeot 308 boot

Unfortunately, the 308’s credentials as a family car are undermined by a lack of storage space in the cabin, including a small glovebox and a cramped armrest cubbyhole with the latter sliding back and forth. However, the narrow rear window and thick C-pillars hamper visibility.

Should you need more practicality, the Peugeot 308 SW estate may be worth your while - boasting a 660-litre boot capacity. The SW is also available as a GT, but only with the diesel engine.

Reliability and Safety


Peugeot, and French cars in general, have not enjoyed the best reputation for reliability in the past, but Peugeot's more recent offerings show a vast improvement. The 208, RCZ and new 308 all bagged a top 25 finish in the 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. Peugeot dealers are showing signs of improvement too and in our latest Driver Power survey were the biggest movers up the chart.

The 308 has a five-star Euro NCAP rating, and all versions get six airbags, stability control and hill-start assist. However, you’ll have to upgrade to Allure or GT specification if you want hi-tech options such as blind-spot monitoring and forward collision alert.

In the smaller Peugeot 208, owners have reported problems with the touchscreen and this is something to watch out for on the 308. On the plus side, however, it uses plenty of tried-and-tested components, and Peugeot throws in the industry-standard three-year warranty.

The current 308 platform is already used on Citroen's C4 Picasso, so extensive testing should mean it doesn't suffer the reliability issues of its predecessors. 

Disqus - noscript

Good all round car. As for the section on reliability, well I have a 2002 Peugeot 106 1.5 Diesel, which is about as reliable as a trusty sheep dog. I often wonder what this stigma is with French products, like the door is going to fall off any minute.
But really, why on earth is everything compared to the VW products. They certainly aren't as good as Volvo for anything, and have a similar price. The Golf in particular has an overinflated reputation for reliability. And lets not go near the VW Heritage and History - supplying the dictators of this world with knock down 'people cars'.

While Peugeot-Citroen have buckets of heritage, innovation and design, the same can be said for Volvo or Jaguar. To be honest the MG Rover group had a much better history & heritage. Something that evokes sort of Winston Churchill, Oxford, D-Day theme.

The whole VW groups aim is clearly the monopoly of the car industry. Audi (VW) vs Jaguar & Mercedes, VW vs Volvo, Citroen and Renault. Skoda & Seat (VW) vs Renault-Nissan, Peugeot-Citroen. This is really quite scary, sort of 'Lebensraum' tactic.

In my opinion when buying a car if you want a crisp, hearty, sporting, old boy car buy a Jaguar. If you want a car that is renown for safety, buy a Volvo. If you want a reliable, economical (for fuel, parts ect), safe (most have a 5 star rating), with a deep heritage, buy a Peugeot. You really would be a fool not to.

In fact a Kia or a Hyundai would be a better buy than anything from the VW group, who have grown so big, are most likely to have quality control issues in the future. Similar to British Leyland's, vast array of brands and factories which caused huge problems. I would say a VW product is more likely to come with a fault than a Peugeot, Citroen, Nissan, Kia or Hyundai.

The 308 easily could have come out of Munich or Hamburg. Car reviewers really ought to 'cop on' and start looking at other brands, rather than the bloody VW group. It reminds me greatly of foolish people paying more for Kellogg's Cornflakes, rather than settling with a supermarket own brand.

308 with 1.6 BlueHDi or 2.0 BlueHDI 180hp.

Totally agree with that, but when I say it, people say that I am french and arrogant.... :-)

Well said Thomas Campbell.It is a myth re
V W/Audi reliability ,as any reliability chart will backup. especially in the father land .Ifrench cars are seemingly more reliable in Germany than many of the so called built to last home produced products. Mate of mine is just having his Merc E class replaced due to body being badly welded quality hey NOT!

Strange that VW is always the bench mark, in my opinion the Golf is a competent car but not a benchmark, it is a status given by the motoringpress. Most VW products have average, some even (very) poor, reliability records.

The German counterpart of AE, Autobild has published major issues with the new Golf VII (serious Rust issues (!) caused by major water leackage, front boot).

I owned and leased several VW's (Passat's) and Peugeots (307 and 407 estate), the VW's were less reliable then the Peugeot (except compared with the 307 XSI HDI, first series, this car was build very badly with major quality issues). The 407 estate was flawless and very very comfortable, no match for the two Passats I owned.

So AE stop this nonsense about struggling quality issues, French manufacturers have had their difficulties in the past, as well as VW, Audi etc etc. It is obvious to all of us that you have to follow you're VW sponsor, stop fooling you're self.

Bt the way, If people want a 100% reliable car choose a Toyota Auris Hybrid instead.

However I will give the new 308 very serious consideration, the car looks way better than the VW and Focus, both inside and outside.

The Golf is the benchmark. The trouble is that the benchmark was set by journos and a lot of people have fallen for it.

They forgot to add 'It's French' in the Against column.

A question of choise not prejudice..., I would go for Peugeot 308 of course, instead of VW Golf..The 308 is classy, has excellent handling.., it's curious but hier in Italy the 308 receives 5 stars in quality and handling by the renowned Quattroruote review ..( quite better than Golf ,Focus etc..) Do you remember the old 403 and 504 they were so comfortable & reliable (unstopabble) ..I own the 207 CC , with 170.000 km , seriously I've never had a problems..

why not go for the rcz 'r' or wait for the new 308 'r'.......will be most powerful 1.6 petrol on the road......270bhp,good mpg (combined 40+mpg ) and low emissions (145g)
peugeot going back to the real hot hatches.......they said the gti is its even better.....bring it on baby

Mercedes are probably one of the least reliable brands these days. Our neighbour has had his 2008 E class CDi towed twice from his home due to breakdowns! Amazingly he replaced it with a newer model. Brand loyalty or just stupidity?!

I've had several Peugeot 205's, 405's, 406's, all were very reliable. Then came the Peugeot 407Sw, the most unreliable car ever,. Over a period of about 40,000 miles the EGR failed,DPF failed,ECU's failed, A/C failed, complete fuel system failure, injectors failed, glow plugs failed, fuel tank split open when I was filling up with diesel, DMF and clutch failed twice, heat guards rusted through and fell of, tailgate rusted and needed repair, tyre sensors failed, uneven tyre wear due to incorrect factory set up, rear wiper seized, poor brakes and worst of all the Diesel engine decided to go into meltdown and had to be replaced! However, my VW Passat B6 Estate has never let me down, costs next to nothing to run. My wife's VW Golf Mk5, totally reliable in the 5 years we have had it.

Its a good idea, but in Portugal, diesel cars are a little bit chapear, and the diesel in itselfs its 0,30€ cheaper than petrol. :)

At least he can sit in leather clad luxury while he is being towed, I would rather that than rattling around in a French tin can!

Seems as if the VW "stormtroopers" have been deployed! Actually I share the review's comments about bland looks as the present Peugeot style does not seem at all good to me. I suspect they are trying too hard to focus on the staider members of society al la VW/Skoda, leaving more enterprising design to Citroen. This is even true of the standard C$ in relation to the 308.
They need to find a new Pininfarina.

Hmm, not sure about that. It was just a lowly CDi so not exactly that luxurious!

Not sure why they don't put the Peugeot badge on the grille to give it more identity. But overall a vast improvement over their hideous previous models. They used to design quite handsome cars -205. 405 et al, but then lost the plot completely.

Do you have any argument to bring up rather than your stupidity or maybe your xenophobia?

I don't get it. The review praises the interior, but in the summary table the interior is listed as a minus. I can tell from first hand experience that the 308 is at least as good as the golf, if not better

I have to agree with you 100% on this. Whenever I read a review, it ALWAYS goes back to the VW Group or, more recently, Ford (another over-hyped brand).

Its like motoring journalists can't go two seconds before they mention how much better XYZ car from VW or one of its subbrands is oh so much better in oh so many ways. I read a review for the Kia Pro_Cee'd GT and, of course, the inevitable comparison with the SEAT Leon SC reared its ugly head - especially with the apparently outstanding interior quality of the SEAT.

Rather than take the review at face value, because I'm annoying that way, I went and test drove BOTH cars. The Kia won hands down in pretty much every area: value for money, styling (damn good styling at that), perceived quality, comfort, equipment (the FR doesn't even come with auto wipers as standard - its £20k!) and so on and so forth. How the Leon won AutoCar's car of the year now baffles me beyond all beleif.

Reliability is also sub-par with VW products as you so rightly stated. My brother has had nothing but VW group for decades and he raves about reliability and "german engineering" - he forgets almost every car has had faults but w/e, he's brand loyall to the end.

When it actually comes to reliability, the three most reliable brands in our family, hands down, are (British)Nissan, Kia and Peugeot. Brother in law's BMWs? Mechanical Faults. Sister's Mini Cooper S? Major Fault that killed it. Brother's VW Group cars? Faults galore. Dad's Mercedes C-Class? Good sweet Jesus that thing was terrible...

My sister, mum, dad and myself all have Nissans now. Other than a wing mirror motor being a bit twitchy on my Dad's Qashqai, nothing has went wrong with any of our cars.
My dad's old Peugeot 406 Diesel before he got the Merc was a dream machine. It finally developed a fault at around 90k miles - nothing mechanical, just an emissions sensor - that was it. Was still working when he finally got rid of it at 110k miles.
My cousin's family loved their Kias (pre-schreyer sportage, two picantos and a Pro_Cee'd). My cousin still has his Pro_Cee'd - its five years old - the only fault has been a slightly anemic windscreen washer pump that was replaced under warrenty just a few months ago. The two picantos were replaced with a FIesta and a Focus, only to have the Fiesta replaced with a Kia Rio 6 months later duh to constant technical headaches and the Focus replaced with a Zafira not soon after that because, again, technical reasons.

I'll be test driving the 308 Allure 156 THP next Teusday, I have really high hopes for it after the blunt dissapointment that was the Leon.

Stupid comment, Lagoya. I report you

copy/paste volkswagen... bleah

Dear Autoplus, it's normal you have trouble seeing the dials through the wheel, because you're not supposed too! This is the new i-cockpit, same as the 208, dials are above the wheel!

In the report it says that you cannot see the dials through the small steering wheel. The idea of this design is that you look over the wheel. I have driven 2 now and have not had a problem with this in fact it means that you do not have to take your eyes off the road when looking at your speed. As for Peugeot dealers mine is a small family run dealership and I would rate them 10/10.

Last updated: 8 Apr, 2015