Peugeot 308 Hatchback full 9 point review
Our favourite engine is the 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel. It’s flexible, so you rarely have to rev it hard, and makes the 308 feel reasonably brisk. You have to work the 91bhp 1.6 pretty hard at times, but it doesn’t feel significantly slower than the higher-powered version when you do. Both 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engines are worth a look if you don’t do many miles a year; the 109bhp unit is decently punchy at low revs, while the 129bhp version feels more urgent and is usefully brisk.
Ride & Handling
Aside from a bit of patter from the rear of the car, the 308 rides pretty well on most surfaces, although models with 18-inch wheels are less comfortable at low speeds. Sadly, you pay for this suppleness with sloppy body control. The steering is also a little vague and overly light, which doesn’t inspire enough confidence on twisty back roads or on the motorway.
The 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine stays quiet unless you rev it hard, but the 91bhp 1.6 and the 2.0-litre diesels sound gruffer and transmit more vibration through the pedals. The 1.2-litre turbocharged petrols are the most hushed engines in the line-up, and remain calm and quiet at all times. You have to put up with some wind noise at motorway speeds, while the manual gearbox has a vague action and the auto ’box can be slow to respond.
Buying & Owning
The 308 is competitively priced, and you can get a decent discount to make it better value. The diesel models and 1.2 turbo petrol versions are impressively economical, while their low CO2 emissions help to make them cheap to run as company cars. Resale values are the only area where the 308 struggles to match the class leaders; they’re merely average, though, so are far from awful.
Quality & Reliability
Much of the cabin is smartly trimmed, but there are some signs of cost cutting, including a swathe of hard, scratchy plastic beneath the centrally mounted touch-screen. The 308 was too new to feature in the most recent JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but Peugeot as a manufacturer got average marks for reliability.
Safety & Security
Standard safety equipment is comparable with that in most rivals, plus Peugeot offers a Driver Assistance Pack on some models that brings several desirable extras. These include adaptive cruise control and a system that automatically applies the brakes if it detects an imminent collision. Security kit includes an engine immobiliser and deadlocks, and most versions also get an alarm.
Space & Practicality
The boot can swallow 470 litres of luggage, which is 120 litres less than the Skoda Octavia’s can manage, but a lot more space than you get in a Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf. Unfortunately, the 308’s large carrying capacity comes at the expense of rear legroom; six-footers will feel seriously cramped when sitting behind similar-sized people up front, while rear headroom is also quite tight if you specify the optional panoramic glass roof.
Every 308 comes with air-conditioning, Bluetooth, a digital radio and cruise control, but we’d go for Active trim, which gets alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, sat-nav and dual-zone climate control. Allure models are expensive, but add full-LED headlights, a reversing camera and front parking sensors, while GT Line versions get 18-inch alloys and part-Alcantara sports seats as standard. Range-topping GT trim adds keyless entry, but it’s too pricey.
Behind The Wheel
As in the 208, there’s an unusually small steering wheel that you look over (instead of through) to see the instruments. Fewer drivers will find the top of the wheel blocks their view of the speedo in the 308, however. A 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.