Peugeot 308 vs rivals

22 May, 2014 2:50pm

The new Peugeot 308 hatch takes on the SEAT Leon and Mazda 3

Downsizing in the name of efficiency is all the rage, but it’s taken Peugeot until now to launch a small-capacity turbo engine for its recently launched 308. The new e-THP unit is available with 108bhp or 128bhp, as tested here. Both versions emit less than 110g/km of CO2 and promise to return more than 60mpg.

Mazda, meanwhile, has added a new 1.5-litre SkyActiv engine to its superb 3 hatch. It’s not as powerful as its turbocharged rivals, but it promises strong throttle response, driveability and low running costs.

Setting the benchmark for our two newcomers is our reigning car of the year: the SEAT Leon. Fitted with a 1.2-litre TSI unit, it delivers performance, economy, sharp driving dynamics and value for money.

Click the links below for the full verdict on each car...

Peugeot 308 review

Mazda 3 review

SEAT Leon review

Now read our head-to-head group test results below...


Under the bonnet

Peugeot’s 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine is given a boost courtesy of a turbo and stop-start. As a result, it’s 15 per cent more powerful and 25 per cent more efficient than the 1.6-litre unit it replaces.

The SEAT has a more traditional four-cylinder with less power, but the Leon’s lower kerbweight means strong performance. However, the Mazda avoids turbocharging with its “right-sized” 1.5-litre, which is smooth but lacks punch.

Light fantastic

Both Peugeot and SEAT have adopted the latest LED headlamp tech. Yet while this is available on Leon SE models and above, you’ll have to fork out for the 308 Allure if you want the brighter lights.

Mazda uses traditional halogens in the entry-level SE, but SE-L and Sport get standard-fit xenons.

Business costs

Our trio will be on most company car lists, but the SEAT rates well here. It’s CO2 emissions are higher than the 308’s, yet a lower price means there’s little to separate the two on BIK. The Leon’s 46.4 per cent residuals are strongest.


1st place: SEAT Leon

The SEAT Leon’s reign at the top of the family car class continues. In 1.2-litre TSI guise, it offers a compelling blend of performance, quality and refinement. Factor in sharp handling, plenty of kit and strong residuals, and it’s a package that’s hard to beat.

2nd place: Peugeot 308

The runner-up spot goes to the Peugeot 308. It’s not as fun to drive as its rivals, but it’s hard to ignore the French model’s punchy engine, low CO2 emissions and long kit list. It’s attractively styled, inside and out, and better built than previous Peugeots.

3rd place: Mazda 3

Third place will be a bitter pill for Mazda to swallow. While the 3 is neatly styled, well built and enormous fun to drive, it’s undermined by sluggish performance and higher running costs. Space and practicality are also a letdown. 

SEAT Leon 1.2 TSI SE Peugeot 308 1.2 e-THP Active Mazda 3 1.5 SE Nav
On the road price/total as tested £16,970/£17,410 £17,945/£17,945 £17,295/£17,835
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000) £7,849/46.4% £6,945/38.7% £7,401/42.8%
Depreciation £9,066 £11,000 £9,894
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £507/£1,015 £501/£1,002 £552/£1,103
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £1,732/£2,886 £1,844/£3,074 £2,120/£3,533
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 13/£330/C/£30 14/£341/B/£20 13/£339/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £169/£199/£169 £16.99pm (3yrs/30k) £109/£219/£249
Length/wheelbase 4,263/2,636mm 4,253/2,620mm 4,465/2,700mm
Height/width 1,459/1,816mm 1,457/1,804mm 1,465/1,795mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/1,197cc 3cyl in-line/1,199cc 4cyl in-line/1,496cc
Peak power/revs  104/4,500bhp/rpm 128/5,500bhp/rpm 99/6,000bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs  175/1,400Nm/rpm 230/1,750Nm/rpm 150/4,000Nm/rpm
Transmission  6-spd man/fwd 6-spd man/fwd 6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 50 litres/foam 53 litres/space-saver 51 litres/space saver 
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 380/1,210 litres 470/1,309 litres 364/1,263 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,198/502/1,300kg 1,370/380/1,300kg 1,276/524/950kg
Turning circle 10.2metres 10.4metres 10.6metres
Basic warranty/recovery 3yrs (60k)/1yr 3yrs (unltd)/3yrs 3yrs (60k)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers Variable/128 12.5k (1yr)/300 12.5k miles (1yr)/170
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer position 24th/31st* 14th/26th* 8th/17th*
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars 94/92/70/71/5 92/79/64/81/5 91/86/65/81/5
0-60/30-70mph 9.4/9.6 secs 9.0/9.0 secs 10.4/10.2 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 2.9/6.0 secs 4.2/6.2 secs 6.3/8.3 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 9.1/11.8 secs 8.6/11.4 secs 11.9/18.5 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph  119mph/2,400rpm 127mph/2,300rpm 113mph/2,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph  50.3/35.0/9.0m 47.9/35.2/8.7m 51.9/36.8/9.4m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph 61/39/59/69dB 63/43/65/70dB 58/42/63/72dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 41.0/9.0/451 miles 38.5/8.5/449 miles 33.5/7.3/376 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  47.9/65.7/57.6mpg 48.7/72.4/61.4mpg 43.5/65.7/55.4mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  10.5/14.5/12.7mpl 10.7/15.9/13.5mpl 9.6/14.5/12.2mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 159/114g/km/15% 170/107g/km/14% 195/119g/km/16%
Airbags/Isofix/parking sensors/camera Seven/yes/£265/no Six/yes/yes/no Six/yes/£158/no
Auto/stability/cruise control £1,250/yes/yes £1,000/yes/yes No/yes/no
Climate control/leather/heated seats £350/£1,370/£350^ Yes/no/no No/no/no
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go £495/£995**/no £525/no/no £540/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB/Bluetooth £745/yes/£175/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes