The new Peugeot 308 aims to move Peugeot more upmarket, and the car is certainly very refined; if you like a minimalistic and technology-laden interior then this may be the car for you.
The new Peugeot 308 has gone more mainstream in an effort to attract buyers who may otherwise be considering German rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf. It also aims to set itself apart by its minimalistic and technology-centric interior.
The 308’s exterior aims to lose any sense of French quirkiness. The side profile has a similarity with the BMW 1 Series, with the rear view certainly having shades of the Audi A3.
The interior hardly features any buttons at all, with most controls being accessed via the touchscreen.
The 308 as tested featured a 1.6-litre diesel engine with a 5-speed manual gearbox.
Once you get going, the 308 is very refined, and it’s quiet and comfortable on the motorway. The small steering wheel does add an element of fun, although the compensation for this is a blocked view of the central area of the instrument dials. The chassis feels like it offers potential, but you’d probably need a higher-powered engine to make the most of it.
In fact this engine doesn’t offer much power for overtaking on motorways, and that’s with a five-speed gearbox, so it’s not as though you’re in a sixth ‘overdrive’ gear.
Interestingly the traction control can be switched off, but at 35mph the car switches it back on.
Sit in the driver’s seat of the 308 and you’ll instantly be struck by the small steering wheel, and the need to look over the wheel rather than through it to see the dials. You’ll also be aware of the overall minimalistic design and the large central screen. If you like minimalism and technology, then you’re likely to approve of the 308’s interior. It just has five buttons, in the lower central area of the facia, for the central locking, the front and rear window demisters, the hazard warning lights, and for recirculating the cabin’s air. All other controls are via the central touchscreen.
The idea of controlling all elements of the car via an iPad-style screen sounds appealing. But in real life we think it may be a step too far. When you get into a car you often want to instantly turn the heating up on a cold morning, or turn it down on a warm afternoon. You can’t do this with the 308. Instead you have to wait for the screen to come to life, which seems to take quite a while when you’re in hurry, then you need to keep prodding various icons. In our view it would be far preferable to have a good old-fashioned rotary dial that you can turn by hand to quickly ramp the temperature – and the fan level – up or down.
When you’re driving, touchscreens aren’t great, as you have to take your eyes off the road to look at a screen, and on uneven surfaces it’s all too easy to press the wrong icon.
Also, you can’t keep the mpg readout on view permanently in the 308. You can get it to appear on the touch screen for a few seconds then it disappears – which, from our point of view, isn’t ideal.
The rev counter (the right hand dial) has a needle which goes backwards, from right to left, as if in acknowledgement that the central area of the instruments – ie. the probably rarely-visited red line area of the rev counter – is obscured by the top of the steering wheel rim.
We also couldn’t find a way to enter a postcode in the satnav (although, usefully, there is the option to enter latitude or longitude…). During our week with the car we had to get to a hotel and we had only been given the hotel’s name, a place name, and a postcode – and the satnav was unable to direct us there as it needed a street name and house number rather than a postcode.
One final observation about the interior is that despite having a very small electronic handbrake, there isn’t much room for items such as mobile phones or drinks. Apart from the area underneath the central armrest, there’s only one storage space, which features a drinks holder which can be pulled up to occupy the area. So if you want to store a bottle of water and a mobile phone between the two front seats, you can’t. If you also want to add a cup of coffee, you’ve really had it.
The 308 has an official combined economy figure of 74.3mpg and emissions of 99 g/km CO2. As the NEDC test is conducted over a low load driving cycle of only around seven miles, real-life driving of distances over 500 or 1000 miles is obviously going to produce different results. Over a week with the 308 we achieved an average of 54.3mpg.
This Peugeot 308 cost £17,895, and it had the option of metallic paint (£495). There are four trim levels, Feline, Allure, Active, and Access+. You can also choose between petrol or diesel engines; a petrol 1.2-litre VTi 82 bhp (114g/km CO2); a petrol 1.6-litre THP with either 125 bhp or 155 bhp – both with 129g/km CO2; or a diesel 1.6-litre HDi 92 bhp (93g/km CO2) or a diesel 1.6-litre e-HDi 115 bhp (95g/km CO2). All these figures can vary depending on the wheel size and tyre type. However the big news is that a diesel 1.6-litre BlueHDi 120bhp engine will soon be available which is capable of an impressive 91mpg and just 82g/km CO2.
The Peugeot 308 is certainly a step forward from the previous model. It has a more stylish exterior and interior, and the big news is the increased level of refinement. This all provides a more upmarket feel. If you like technology and minimalism then you’ll probably like the interior. However if you like being able to quickly change temperature and fan settings then you may find the fact that such controls have to be adjusted via the touchscreen somewhat frustrating. Overall it’s a competent car and Peugeot has aimed to go beyond this and give it a unique selling point by its interior which is marked out by its small steering wheel, minimalism, and high tech, which is likely to appeal to certain buyers. The Peugeot 308 is awarded a Green-Car-Guide rating of 7 out of 10.