Peugeot 308 hatchback
Price: £14,495 - £24,045
- Quiet diesel engines
- Large boot
- Comfortable ride
- Not the most fun to drive
- Questionable reliability
- Interior isn’t great quality
“The Peugeot 308 is a practical and economical family hatchback with a comfortable and relaxed ride.”
The Peugeot 308 has been on a diet since its last update – shedding as much as 140kg in some models. That means performance, economy and handling have al been improved. The best part is that the boot has been improved as well, going from 347 litres in the old model to 470 in this new one. That's better than its main rivals, the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, in a key area for a family car like this. It's comfortable too, with a new soft suspension set-up that makes driving in town better than ever for a Peugeot 308. The range starts with the entry-level Access model, and goes up to Active and Allure through to the top-spec Feline models. The two diesel engines impress in terms of running costs and performance, so our pick of the range would be the well-equipped 115bhp 1.6-litre e-HDi Allure model.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Efficient diesels qualify for free road tax
A weight-loss programme during the car's development has meant that the new Peugeot 308 is lighter and more efficient than ever, and it even trumps some of its rivals for fuel economy. The two diesel models both qualify for free road tax, with emissions below 100g/km, and a future BlueHDi version is claimed to get over 90mpg. So if economy is a priority, we recommend you go for a diesel – though beware that continually driving diesels short distances can cause long-term damage to the engine. The petrol models are about average compared to rivals in terms of running costs, so if you’re buying a 308 hatchback to drive around town in then go for a petrol model. Of course, you could always go for a Ford Focus with a 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol instead, which can get as much as 60mpg.
Interior & comfort
Go for smaller wheels if you prefer a comfortable ride
Peugeot has put much more focus on a soft and comfortable ride in the new 308 hatchback, and smaller wheels and tyres suit the car's relaxed character best. Bumps in the road are largely smoothed out and around town the 308 is good to drive, but sportier versions on bigger wheels do crash about and are definitely more uncomfortable. The diesel engines especially are quiet and don’t intrude too much, but on the motorway at higher speeds, wind noise is louder than you might expect. The driving position is better than in the 208 and it's fairly easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. In high-spec cars the electric seats are mounted too high, which makes you feel like you’re perched on top of the car – and the pedals are set to the side a little, which feels a bit odd. In the back the large boot means rear legroom is not as generous as in its rivals like the VW Golf and Kia Cee’d, and the narrow rear bench feels more like a two than a three-seater. The middle seat is particularly small and is only suitable for kids and occasional use.
Practicality & boot space
Beats the VW Golf for boot space, but not rear legroom
The Peugeot 308 beats the Volkswagen Golf for boot space, with 470 litres with the rear seats up. However the Skoda Octavia trumps the Peugeot in this area by a long way, especially as 35 litres of the 308's load space is actually under the boot floor, so larger single items might not fit. Storage in the front of the car is good, with lots of cubbies, but the glovebox may disappoint. Space for passengers is the 308's weak point, however, as rear legroom is limited and the middle seat is particularly bad, especially for adults. On models with a panoramic windscreen headroom is bad too, so for buyers looking for a family car are best avoiding that option.
Reliability & safety
Interior quality doesn’t inspire confidence
Peugeot has never had a reputation for making the most reliable cars on the market, and although the company is working hard to remedy that the 308 still feels a bit lacking in this area. The interior is quite a nice place to be, but some of the plastics used feel a bit cheap – it's just not as well made as the Volkswagen Golf. The touchscreen interface could be an issue (as it has been in other models) but it is a much better unit than in previous Peugeots. You get a three-year warranty, and all the parts have been used in other cars in the range, so there shouldn’t be too much trouble to worry about. The previous Peugeot 308 scored the full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, and although this model hasn’t been tested yet we expect it to do just as well.
Engines, drive & performance
Suited to a more relaxed driving style
There are two diesel and three petrol engines available in the Peugeot 308, but some more will be added to the range at a later date including a more efficient diesel and a turbocharged petrol. There could even be a fast Peugeot 308 R version, too. Our pick would be the 1.6-litre diesel engine with 115bhp, as it best suits the car's easy-to-drive nature. The gearbox isn’t as good to use as the one in the Volkswagen Golf, and the steering is a bit too unsettled to keep you relaxed when cruising on the motorway. Around town it's more comfortable and good to drive, but there's too much body roll in the corners and more expensive tyres will need to be fitted if you're after good grip in the corners.
Price, value for money & options
Full LED headlights on all but entry-level models
Prices for the new Peugeot 308 have not been announced yet, but we expect them to be competitively priced against its main rivals, the VW Golf and Ford Focus. It will likely still cost more than the Hyundai i30 and Kia Cee’d, however, so it's probably not going to be as good value for money as its Korean equivalents. Go for a spec higher than the entry-level car and you’ll get alloy wheels, a big 9.7-inch touchscreen and satellite navigation all as standard. The top two specs also get full LED headlights as standard, when rivals cars only offer these as a pricy option. However the second hand values of Peugeots don’t match those of other manufacturers, and the short three-year warranty (compared to the Korean rivals) means the cost of ownership will be higher overall.
What the others say
While the previous version of the Peugeot 308 rarely found itself contending for class hounours this all-new model – which keeps the same name – should stand a much better chance of boosting the Peugeot's appeal with customers.
Peugeot's new 308 should be competitively priced and cheap to run as a company car. However, its rear space and handling disappoint, and we find it hard to recommend the engine we drove given that it will be obsolete so soon after launch.
Last updated: 31 Dec 2013