Peugeot 308 hatchback review
"The Peugeot 308 hatchback is an attractive alternative to rivals that’s comfortable, spacious and reliable"
- Low running costs
- Comfortable ride
- Large boot
- Poor rear-seat space
- Rivals more fun to drive
- Some controls tricky to use
There are few classes as competitive as the family hatchback class, which is where you'll find the facelifted Peugeot 308. Its many rivals include the top-selling Ford Focus, the classy Mk8 Volkswagen Golf, the stylish Renault Megane, the radical-looking Honda Civic and the well-balanced Vauxhall Astra.
In addition there’s the striking Mazda3, the Skoda Octavia with its immensely practical boot, the Hyundai i30 with its long five-year warranty and the Kia Ceed, with an even more generous seven-year warranty than the i30. To do well against this crowd, the 308 has to be special. Fortunately, in many ways it is, and the Peugeot 308 is certainly worth considering for your next hatchback. However, it's also worth noting an all-new Peugeot 308 is on its way soon, with a new bold design and even a plug-in hybrid version, so that's worthy of your attention too.
It’s a handsome car, for a start. Following a facelift, the Peugeot 308 now has a more assertive nose and tasteful details throughout, including stylish alloy wheels, chrome trim and smart LED lights. The rear benefits from Peugeot’s claw-style tail-lights, which are always illuminated and look really eye-catching.
Inside, things have also moved up a gear thanks to a few novel flourishes such as Peugeot’s minimalist i-Cockpit layout, featuring a large 9.7-inch touchscreen in place of the usual scattering of buttons and switches. In common with other Peugeots, you look over, rather than through, the small steering wheel to see the instruments – it's an unusual touch, and something you’ll either get on with or won’t.
New upholstery finishes, smarter touchscreen graphics and updated services including TomTom Live traffic updates, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone users help bring the 308 bang up to date, but the i-Cockpit design isn't quite as successful here as it is in the larger Peugeot 3008.
The small steering wheel touched on earlier suggests a sporty car, but the 308 is very much comfort-orientated. That’s not to say it’s a softly sprung plodder; it’s actually quite agile and fun to drive. However, it does trail more engaging cars such as the SEAT Leon, Honda Civic and Ford Focus. If you want real 308 fun, you’ll need to move up to the GTi hot hatch model, which we've reviewed separately.
Even in the standard range, you’re not short of choice of petrol or diesel engines. A 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130 diesel, which can return an impressive 65.6mpg and emits 113-139g/km of CO2, has replaced the old 1.6-litre BlueHDi. There are some very good petrol engines, too, including the 1.2-litre PureTech 130, which can return up to 53.7mpg and emits 119-147g/km thanks to its turbocharged, three-cylinder design and small size.
There are trim levels for all comers, too, starting with Active Premium, which gets air-conditioning, Bluetooth, DAB radio, 16-inch alloy wheels and a 9.7-inch touchscreen. The Allure trim is more luxurious and gets handy upgrades like front fog lights, front and rear parking sensors and sat-nav. It also forms the foundation for Allure Premium, which adds every driver-assistance gadget Peugeot can offer, including active cruise control, along with keyless entry.
GT versions get full-LED headlights which add a dash of the style of the 308 GTI, without the higher running costs or energetic performance.
Peugeot has a good reputation for safety and the 308 is no exception, receiving a five-star crash-test rating from Euro NCAP. The Peugeot 308 came 63rd in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of the top 75 cars currently on sale in the UK. Overall, Peugeot was the strongest-ranking French brand again, finishing 8th out of 30 manufacturers.
The 308 is a practical and stylish hatchback but there is a better all-rounder in its class in the form of the Volkswagen Golf, as well as cars that trump it in specific areas - the Honda Civic is better to drive, for example. If the 308 does make it to the top of your list, our pick is the petrol 1.2-litre PureTech 130 in Allure Premium trim.