You won’t find many 2.0-litre diesel engines that emit less than 100g/km of CO2, but the new Peugeot 308 2.0 BlueHDi is one of them.
We’ve tested cheaper versions of Peugeot’s family hatch, but now it’s time to find out whether the most expensive engine in the range can compete with the best rivals from Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen.
With a starting price just shy of £20,000 and CO2 emissions from 99g/km, this 308 will be relatively cheap to run as a company car, but does this engine offer good value for private buyers too?
What’s the Peugeot 308 2.0 BlueHDi like to drive?
The 2.0-litre diesel’s 277lb ft of torque gives strong acceleration, but all of it arrives suddenly just before 2000rpm. It’s not as flexible as the 2.0 TDI you’ll find in the Skoda Octavia, so you’ll find yourself changing gear more often just to keep the engine from shuddering at low revs. Sadly, you won’t enjoy punching up and down the gears either, because the manual ‘box has a notchy, imprecise shift.
Compared with the smooth 1.6 e-HDi, the new 2.0-litre is noisier, sounding slightly coarse when pottering around town. It doesn’t quieten down as much as we’d like at higher speeds either.
Engine noise isn’t the only issue when cruising. There’s some wind noise at motorway speeds, but worse is the roar generated by the optional 18-inch alloys. If you get this engine in Active trim, you’ll get 16-inch wheels as standard, which shouldn’t be so noisy.
At least the ride is fairly comfortable on the smaller wheels. Granted, it doesn’t always feel settled, and larger ruts can thud through the cabin, but it’s generally pretty supple.
Once you’re off the motorway, the 308 isn’t particularly rewarding when the going gets twisty. The steering is quick, but it’s too vague and doesn’t weight up enough in faster corners. Body control is also pretty sloppy – it doesn’t stay as composed as an Audi A3 or VW Golf through a series of bends.
What’s the Peugeot 308 2.0 BlueHDi like inside?
One area where the Peugeot really shows up rivals is with the amount of kit that’s fitted as standard. You can’t get the 2.0 BlueHDi in entry-level Access spec, so your choices are Active, Allure or Feline.
Even the cheapest version gets dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, sat-nav and rear parking sensors. Going for an Allure model adds larger alloys, a reversing camera and full LED headlights. Range-topping Feline spec includes 18-inch wheels, part-Alcantara upholstery, a full glass roof and a raft of electronic safety measures.
The cabin looks pretty special with a clean, uncluttered dash, but the quality of materials doesn’t quite live up to the design. A swathe of hard, scratchy plastic around the volume knob and CD slot is particularly disappointing.
A centrally mounted touch-screen is the gateway to most of the car’s settings, including the climate control. If you don’t tend to change the temperature a lot, you probably won’t mind the lack of separate controls. For everyone else, it’s rather frustrating.
Still, the cabin space up front is decent, with plenty of room for driver and passenger to get comfortable. Standard-fit lumbar support is also good to see.
Unfortunately, Peugeot’s minimalist principles for the dashboard seem to have been applied to the rear passenger space. With a six-foot driver in front, an adult of similar height behind will feel seriously cramped.
The reason that there’s so little space in the back is that Peugeot has instead given the 308 a much bigger boot than its rivals. At 470 litres, it’s larger than almost every hatchback bar the vast Skoda Octavia. However, it is just a big square shape with no clever features.
Should I buy one?
If you’re after a 2.0-litre diesel that’s cheap to run as a company car and well equipped, then consider a Volvo S60 D4 instead - it works out around £16 more per month. It doesn’t offer the same hatchback practicality, but it’s just as efficient and classy, not to mention more refined, composed and considerably more powerful.
Even if you’ve got your heart set on the 308, the cheaper 128bhp 1.2 e-THP petrol or 118bhp 1.6 BlueHDi diesel will make much more sense. The latter boasts official CO2 emissions of just 82g/km, which will make it even cheaper for company car users.
However, if you want a classy, powerful family hatch, then we’d recommend the Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI 150. For private buyers, it looks more expensive than the 308, but over three years it’s actually £1500 cheaper – thanks largely to its much stronger residual values. The Audi is also good to drive, has plenty of space for four, and a brilliant infotainment system – none of which can be said of the 308.
The 308 majors on low CO2 emissions, a big boot and attractive company car costs. Cheaper versions are worth a look, but this diesel engine doesn’t play to its strengths.
What Car? says…
Specification 2.0 BlueHDi 150
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £19,995
Torque 277lb ft
0-62mph 8.6 seconds
Top speed 135mph
Fuel economy 72.4mpg
CO2 emissions 99g/km