2014 Peugeot 308 review

  • New Peugeot 308 family hatch driven in UK
  • Promises class-leading quality and efficiency
  • On sale January, priced from around £14,495

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The new Peugeot 308 is the first model in the company’s history to retain the name of its predecessor. However, Peugeot claims that it actually represents one of its biggest steps forward.

A mixture of composites, aluminium and high-strength steel have been used in the car’s construction, which helps make it around 140kg lighter than the outgoing 308 and improves both performance and efficiency.

What’s more, Peugeot is promising class-leading interior quality and much improved ride comfort and handling.

The petrol engines available at launch will be an 80bhp 1.2 and 123bhp and 154bhp 1.6 turbos, while the diesel alternatives will be 91bhp and 114bhp 1.6s, which are both capable of over 75mpg.

Next March this range will expand to include 109bhp and 129bhp versions of a new three-cylinder turbo petrol engine, and two new Blue HDi diesels: a 118bhp 1.6 and a 148bhp 2.0. The 1.6 is particularly efficient, averaging a claimed 91.1mpg with CO2 emissions of just 82g/km when fitted with optional energy saving tyres.

Peugeot is likely to drop the 123bhp petrol and the 114bhp diesel from the 308 line-up before the end of next summer.

What’s the 2014 Peugeot 308 like to drive?

Aside from a bit of patter from the rear end of the car, the 308 rides pretty well.

Unfortunately, you pay for this suppleness with sloppy body control; the 308 lops over in a fairly uncontrolled way when you turn into a bend.

The rival Audi A3 Sportback and VW Golf both strike a much better balance between comfort and control, plus they have better steering than the 308, so inspire greater confidence on winding roads. Also, the 308's brakes are rather grabby, making it tricky to slow your progress smoothly.

The 308 feels most suited to town driving, where you can make the most of its tight turning circle and light controls, although the gearbox has a slightly vague action.

The 114bhp 1.6 diesel engine delivers decent in-gear flexibility and is relatively quiet. However, the 91bhp version is the same engine isn't as flexible as is decidedly boomy when revved.

Wind noise also stops the 308 matching its best rivals for refinement; this builds up around the door mirrors at motorway speeds.

What’s the 2014 Peugeot 308 like inside?

As in the 208 supermini, there’s an unusually small steering wheel that you look over (instead of through) to see the instruments. However, the basic driving position is better in the 308, so fewer drivers will find the top of the wheel blocks their view of the speedo.

A smartly trimmed cabin adds to the 308’s appeal, although there are some signs of cost-cutting, including a swathe of hard, scratchy plastic beneath the centrally mounted touch-screen.

This touch-screen is standard on all but the entry-level trim, and features large easy-to-hit icons. That said, some of the minor functions are fiddly to operate on the move, and it’s a pity Peugeot hasn’t fitted separate controls for the air-conditioning; you have to adjust the cabin temperature and fan settings through the touch-screen, which forces you to switch between menus more often than you ideally would.

The boot can swallow 470 litres of luggage, which is 120 litres less than the Skoda Octavia’s can manage, but (officially at least) a lot more space than you get in a Ford Focus or VW Golf.

Unfortunately, the 308’s large carrying capacity comes at the expense of rear legroom; six-footers will feel seriously cramped when sitting behind a similar-sized driver, while rear headroom is also quite tight if you specify the optional panoramic glass roof. Plenty of superminis are more accommmodating for rear passengers.

Should I buy one?

Peugeot’s new 308 is competitively priced and cheap to run as a company car. However, its rear space and handling disappoint, and we find it hard to recommend the 114bhp diesel we drove given that it will be obsolete so soon after launch.

The sad truth is the 308 falls some way short of the sky-high standards set by rivals such as the Audi A3 Sportback, Skoda Octavia and VW Golf.

What Car? says…


Rivals:
Audi A3 Sportback
Skoda Octavia

Specification 1.2 VTi 82
Engine size 1.2-litre petrol
Price from £14,495
Power 80bhp
Torque 87lb ft
0-62mph 13.3 seconds
Top speed 106mph
Fuel economy 56.4mpg
CO2 emissions 114g/km

Specification 1.6 THP 125
Engine size 1.6-litre turbo petrol
Price from £15,695
Power 123bhp
Torque 148lb ft
0-62mph 8.9 seconds
Top speed 125mph
Fuel economy 50.4mpg
CO2 emissions 129g/km

Specification 1.6 THP 155
Engine size 1.6-litre turbo petrol
Price from £19,745
Power 154bhp
Torque 177lb ft
0-62mph 8.0 seconds
Top speed 133mph
Fuel economy 50.4mpg
CO2 emissions 129g/km

Specification 1.6 HDi 92
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £16,445
Power 91bhp
Torque 170lb ft
0-62mph 11.3 seconds
Top speed 113mph
Fuel economy 78.4mpg
CO2 emissions 93g/km

Specification 1.6 HDi 115
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £17,245
Power 114bhp
Torque 199lb ft
0-62mph 10.2 seconds
Top speed 121mph
Fuel economy 76.3mpg
CO2 emissions 95g/km

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