We’ve already tested the 308 HDi 92, but this new Peugeot 308 120 model offers much improved economy at 91.1mpg – and it has proven to be the most economical car that we’ve ever tested in real life, returning 72.3mpg.
The latest Peugeot 308, with its more upmarket appearance and minimalistic interior, has now been out for a while, but this 120bhp model is new – and it offers more power and more economy.
The 308 is styled to look less like a quirky French design and more like a mainstream German rival, and it succeeds. The exterior is better-looking than its 307 predecessor, but it’s on the inside where the difference is most evident – there’s a very minimalistic interior, dominated by a touchscreen featuring most of the controls. You’d think that the interior designers would make a really stylish-looking space where the centre console has been freed from the buttons that moved to the touchscreen, but the expanse of curved plastic that’s left isn’t that aesthetically pleasing.
This 120bhp model is much better to drive than the previous 92bhp model that we tested. Yes it has more power, so performance is good and the engine is flexible, but it also has much better economy, and it also felt overall more refined, quiet and comfortable, with a good ride (although the 92bhp model was refined anyway). Most of the controls are nicely weighted and the gearbox has a smooth action.
The driving experience in this car is always influenced by one key thing – the incredibly small steering wheel. We actually like the steering wheel, and the sharp responses that it provides, but it’s inextricably linked to the design of the dashboard which as a result means you have to view the main dials above the wheel, rather than through the wheel, as is the case in the majority of other cars. This means that depending upon your size and seating position, visibility of some of the dials may be obscured. In our view, this is not a good design solution. Peugeot seems to have acknowledged that there is a problem as it has designed the rev counter to go backwards so you can see the needle at typical revs.
The one thing that we still have an issue with in the 308 is the touchscreen controlling too many functions – particularly the temperature. If you get in the car and want to warm up or cool down the interior quickly, you have to wait until the touchscreen cranks into life, then press buttons repeatedly on the screen. It would be much, much, much better to have a good old-fashioned rotary control dial to instantly turn the temperature up or down.
Also, trying to drive when also attempting to reach over to a touchscreen and putting your finger on exactly the right bit of the screen – especially when travelling over bumpy roads – is extremely challenging, and it’s all too easy to press the wrong button, which can cause all sorts of problems. So we would really prefer some sort of iDrive controller rather than just a touchscreen, which is much easier to be precise with.
Other issues include the fact that you can’t enter a postcode in the satnav which isn’t particularly helpful, and a final gripe is that the cruise control switchgear is stuck behind the left spoke of the steering wheel where you can’t see it, which isn’t ideal.
The previously-tested Peugeot 308 HDi 92 has an official combined economy figure of 74.3mpg and emissions of 99 g/km CO2. This 308 HDi 120 model has an official combined economy figure of 91.1mpg and emissions of 82 g/km CO2. This is quite an improvement. As regular readers of Green Car Guide will be aware, it’s unrealistic to expect to come close to the 91.1mpg in real-life driving, however we did achieve an extremely impressive average of 72.3mpg after a week (this included much motorway driving). This is the best real-life economy result that we have ever achieved in 8 years of green car tests. The previous Peugeot 308 HDi 92 only achieved an average of 54.3mpg.
Such good economy also translates to a long driving range – over 700 miles in our case – which provides an interesting contrast to the very short range of pure electric cars.
This Peugeot 308 cost £19,495, and it had the options of white paintwork (£200), CD player (£80), panoramic glass roof (£500) and front fog lights (£130). 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), in addition to this 1.6-litre BlueHDi 120bhp engine. All these emissions and economy figures can vary depending on the wheel size and tyre type.
It’s natural to expect that any family hatchback with an official combined economy figure of 91.1mpg will have compromises in its driving experience. However apart from the interior ergonomics issues of too many controls being stuck on the touchscreen and the obscured vision of the main dials behind the steering wheel, we couldn’t find any serious problems. This is a refined, quiet, comfortable car with good performance. This is a vehicle that makes complete sense as a company car, especially for drivers doing high motorway mileages. The Peugeot 308 HDi 92 was awarded a Green-Car-Guide rating of 7 out of 10. The same car, just with a slightly different engine, and achieving our best real-life economy ever, manages to climb two stars to a Green-Car-Guide rating of 9 out of 10.