Peugeot 308 review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The 308 is the car Peugeot hopes will take the fight to the class leading Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus

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

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Launched at the end of 2013 for the 2014 model year, the all-new Peugeot 308 is a signal of intent from the French firm. Peugeot aims to take the fight to the family hatchback class leaders, the Volkswagen Golf and the Ford Focus. What's more, it was also crowned 2014 European Car of the Year.

The previous Peugeot 308 was launched in 2007 as a replacement to the 307, and like its predecessor, it struggled to match the class leaders. Thankfully, the all new 308 is a more impressive package, due to a special lightweight chassis that also underpins the latest Citroen C4 Picasso. Depending on which engine you choose kerb weight is reduced by up to 140kg compared to the old car, and also has much improved efficiency over its predecessor.

Peugeot offers the 308 in four trim levels, which start at the basic, entry level Access model and extend up to the flagship Feline. However, the best sellers are likely to be the mid-spec Allure and Active trims.

The 308's buyers can also enjoy a wide range of very efficient engines, which include the 1.6 and 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesels, and two three-cylinder petrols. Furthermore, the Peugeot 308 comes as a six speed automatic, or five or six speed manual.

More recently Peugeot has extended the 308 range with the addition of a more practical SW estate. A 308 GTi hot hatch is also set to arrive, underlining the fact that Peugeot intends to take the fight to the Volkswagen Golf GTi in the hot hatch segment.

There has been no comment as to whether Peugeot will be adding a 308 CC convertible to the line-up.

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

Styling

4.2

Peugeot has clearly used the design of its elegant 208 supermini and 2008 crossover to influence the 308. The forgettable design of the old car has been replaced by a more upright stance and there are plenty of neat details dotted around the exterior.

The top spec 308 Allure and the Feline models get LED headlamps but the slim lights and narrow grille common to all models make the 308 one of the best looking cars in its class. The bulging rear wheelarches add an aggressive air to the 308's profile, and the small light clusters and slim rear screen are also smart touches. The Feline trim Peugeot 308 also comes with a full panoramic roof, keyless go, 18-inch alloy wheels and part-Alcantara sports seats. 

The interior of the 308 maintains Peugeot's current run of classy design and is comparable in quality to that found in the impressive SEAT Leon. The dashboard layout has a clutter free, hexagonal theme with most systems being controlled via the central touchscreen. Small tasks such as altering the cabin temperature can be time consuming due to the complex system of sub-menus, though.

Another interior design flaw that affects the 308, is that like in the 208, Peugeot has placed the dials too 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 obscures the odometer.

However, there are few complaints about the quality. You’ll find plenty of soft-touch materials, while soft leather is used for the steering-wheel rim and gearknob. You also get plenty of kit, including dual-zone climate control, sat-nav and rear parking sensors.

Peugeot hasn't skimped on standard kit, and throws in sat-nav, rear parking sensors and a digital radio. Very few extras are offered on the 308, apart from metallic paint and the Cielo glass roof.

If, however, you want heated leather seats, you'll have to choose the pricer Allure of Feline spec cars, but even then they're an option. A word of warning, though – the massage function isn’t particularly effective.

Overall, then, the 308's cabin is largely well screwed together, but isn't always easy to get on with. Similarly, some of the lower-level plastics feel a bit cheap but generally, the interior is certainly executed better than in rivals such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.

Driving

4

An all new platform underpins the 308, and it has been designed for a mix of cruising comfort and sharp handling.

On the whole, Peugeot has delivered on its remit for sharper dynamics and the 308 has decent turn-in and feels agile in corners. As with some of its rivals, Peugeot won't allow the stability control to be 100 per cent disengaged, but the system now allows the rear end to move around before it kicks in.

Our car was fitted with the optional £395 Sport mode, which sharpens the throttle response, adds weight to the steering, turns the dials red and uses the stereo speakers to deliver a racier note. But it fails to transform the 308 into a car you’d drive for fun.

The Peugeot 308 can be powered by one of three, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines: the 1.2 VTi, 1.2 e-HTP and 1.6 THP, or 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. 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.

The 308’s smooth and refined three-cylinder unit is a gutsy performer, pulling strongly from around 2,000rpm, but the six-speed box is clunky.

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 Peugeot delivers superb refinement, too. The 18-inch alloys on the Feline-spec car firm up the ride, but on standard 16-inch rims the suspension soaks up imperfections. The trade-off for this comfort is slightly softer responses in the corners. There’s more body roll than in the Leon, while the steering lacks the feel of Mazda’s set-up

While the range of engines in the 308 are impressive, Peugeot's manual gearbox is sloppy - feeling loose and at times, imprecise.

The 308 GTi will be powered by the 270bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine from Peugeot's Audi TT rival, the RCZ-R.

Reliability

3.9

In the past, French cars have not had the best reputation for reliability, but Peugeot's latest models are vastly more reliable than past offerings, with the 208, RCZ and new 308 all bagging a top 25 finish in our 2014 Driver Power satisfaction survey.

However, the brand’s dealers need to improve – owners voted them 26th out of 31 in our 2013 poll.

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 Feline 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 308 also has a five-star Euro NCAP rating, but only the Allure and Feline models get the latest technology safety systems.

The current 308 platform is already used on Citroen's C4 Picasso, so extensive testing should mean it doesn't suffer the reliability of its predecessors. The same platform is also likely to underpin the next generation Citroen C4.

However, Peugeot's dealers need to improve: in our 2013 Driver Power satisfaction survey, owners voted them 26th out of 31.

Practicality

3.9

Practicality for the Peugeot 308 is a mixed bag. Legroom in the rear of the 308 is average, but the wider doors mean better access to the back seats than in a SEAT Leon or a Mazda3. Headroom is also decent.

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

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.

Should you need more practicality, the Peugeot 308 SW estate may be worth your while.

Running Costs

4.1

With a lighter platform and improved aerodynamics, the Peugeot 308 is one of the most economical cars in its class.

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 2.0-litre BlueHDi has 30bhp and 370Nm of torque more than its 1.6-litre counterpart, but fuel economy suffers as a consequence. It returns impressive figures at 70.6mpg on a combined cycle, and emits 105g/km of CO2. However, these still fall way short of the 1.6-litre BlueHDi which does 88.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 87g/km, but the 2.0-litre variant's diesel engine is smoother and its stop-start system is fluid.

The 308 has never held its value well, and our experts predict that over a three year period, it will lose around £1,000 more of its value than the SEAT Leon.

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.

 

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 back...now 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: 21 Mar, 2014
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