Peugeot 308 hatchback (2007 - 2013)
"The Peugeot 308 is spacious, offers a quality interior and has an appealing range of economical diesel engines. However, it isn't as accomplished as its rivals."
- Durable interior
- Very safe
- Very comfortable
- Poor resale values
- Questionable reliabilty
- Entry-level cars feel basic
Peugeot targeted mainstream rivals such as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf when it originally launched the stylish, more upmarket 308. So, inside the car you’ll find classy materials, while the quirky exterior is a distinctive, although likely not to everyone’s tastes – the grille, eye-catching headlamps and LED daytime running lights give it a sporty look, but it does still look dated next to rivals. The 308 comes in three standard specs – entry-level Access, mid-range Active and top-of-the-range Allure, with the focus in all models more on comfort and space than on providing a fun driving experience. In fact, the driving position isn't great, while general visibility and legroom in the front are both poor. Also, the manual gearbox does have difficulty finding its gears sometimes. The range of diesel engines on offer are strong, which now includes a e-HDi diesel micro-hybrid, and it is overall decent to drive even if it doesn’t set your pulse racing. You can also get it the 308 as a practical estate or cabriolet with folding metal roof.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Thanks to the large selection of engines available in the 308, there’s something suitable for everyone – and the last round of revisions on the car also improved their economy across the board. We’d recommend going for the 115bhp 1.6-litre e-HDi, which features a particularly smooth stop-start system to boost fuel economy, returning an impressive 70.6mpg and emitting 103g/km of CO2. What's more, you can reduce this to an impressive 95g/km by opting for the rather clunky EGC automated manual box.
Engines, drive & performance
While the 308 isn't as much fun as the brilliant Ford Focus, it’s still good to drive, feeling composed and safe through corners. You get very little body roll, while the strong brakes give you confidence. The engine range includes a 98bhp 1.4-litre VTi petrol and a 120bhp 1.6-litre VTi, a 92 bhp 1.6-litre e-HDi diesel fitted with stop-start that’s available with a manual or EGC gearbox (at 115bhp), a 92bhp 1.6-litre HDi FAP diesel and a 150bhp 2.0-litre HDi FAP diesel. The 1.4-litre petrol is sluggish, but the rest perform well enough – with the 120bhp 1.6-litre HDi diesel offering the best mix of performance and economy. The 308 is best on the motorway and less suited to winding UK roads, partly because neither the manual or the EGC automatic gearbox are any good and can make changing gear and frustrating experience at times.
Interior & comfort
The 308 is better at comfort and smoothness on the road than offering an engaging driving experience. There’s not much wind or road noise when driving at speed, while the diesel engines are very quiet. The petrol models, however, do get a bit noisy when pushed. The ride is generally comfortable, even though the 308 doesn’t cope as well with the UK’s rough roads as it perhaps should, given its focus on comfort. However, the seats are all comfortable, and there is plenty of room in the back for adults to get reasonably comfy.
Practicality & boot space
Some good news – the 308 is surprisingly practical given it’s sleek exterior. You get a boot that offers 347 litres of space, beating the 316 litres in a Ford Focus, which is boosted to 1,398 litres if you fold the back seats fully flat. However, the high load lip hampers loading, which can become a problem if you’re trying to transport bulky, awkward-shaped items. Top-spec models add storage drawers under the rear seats for stashing bits and pieces, and there's a handy covered area on the parcel shelf, too. Thanks to it being long for the class, there’s room for three adults to sit in the back – not without a bit of shoulder squeeze, but they’ll get in there all the same.
Reliability & safety
You don’t need to worry about safety in the 308, as it’s been a good performer in the Euro NCAP crash tests since its launch. Naturally, like many small French cars, it secured the maximum overall five-star rating, getting 83 per cent for adult safety, 81 per cent for child safety, 83 per cent for safety assist technology and 53 per cent for pedestrian safety. Every model has a minimum of six airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes, while deadlocks and remote central locking come as standard. In terms of reliability, unfortunately Peugeot has a chequered past, and it came second from bottom in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, having dropped a further three places down from its 2012 finish at 28. The 308 itself did manage to crack the top 150 cars, however, placing 137th. So both manufacturer and car still have a lot of work to do if it wants to improve that dire reputation in the eyes of the car-buying public.
Price, value for money & options
While the 308 isn’t very expensive, priced in the same range as rivals like the Honda Civic and Ford Focus, neither is it especially cheap, either. But Peugeot have raised the standard equipment levels of the range, with entry-level Access models now coming with LED daytime running lights, all-round electric windows, air-conditioning, and a radio/CD player with USB and Bluetooth connectivity fitted as standard. Go up a level to the Active and you get 17-inch alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, cruise control with speed limiter, rear parking aid, dual zone climate control, automatic windscreen wipers and headlights, and sat-nav, while top-spec Allure models also add 18-inch alloys, half-leather seats and a glass roof. Resale values on the used car market for Peugeots aren’t great, and most 308s shed their value quite quickly second-hand.