First Drive

2014 Peugeot 308 2.0 BlueHDi review

  • Most expensive engine tested in family hatch
  • 148bhp diesel has CO2 emissions from 99g/km
  • Available to buy now, priced from ยฃ19,995
Words ByEd Callow

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You wonโ€™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.

Weโ€™ve tested cheaper versions of Peugeotโ€™s family hatch, but now itโ€™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 ยฃ20,000 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?

Whatโ€™s the Peugeot 308 2.0 BlueHDi like to drive?

The 2.0-litre dieselโ€™s 277lb ft of torque gives strong acceleration, but all of it arrives suddenly just before 2000rpm. Itโ€™s not as flexible as the 2.0 TDI youโ€™ll find in the Skoda Octavia, so youโ€™ll find yourself changing gear more often just to keep the engine from shuddering at low revs. Sadly, you wonโ€™t enjoy punching up and down the gears either, because the manual โ€˜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 doesnโ€™t quieten down as much as weโ€™d like at higher speeds either.

Engine noise isnโ€™t the only issue when cruising. Thereโ€™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, youโ€™ll get 16-inch wheels as standard, which shouldnโ€™t be so noisy.

At least the ride is fairly comfortable on the smaller wheels. Granted, it doesnโ€™t always feel settled, and larger ruts can thud through the cabin, but itโ€™s generally pretty supple.

Once youโ€™re off the motorway, the 308 isnโ€™t particularly rewarding when the going gets twisty. The steering is quick, but itโ€™s too vague and doesnโ€™t weight up enough in faster corners. Body control is also pretty sloppy โ€“ it doesnโ€™t stay as composed as an Audi A3 or VW Golf through a series of bends.

Whatโ€™s the Peugeot 308 2.0 BlueHDi like inside?

One area where the Peugeot really shows up rivals is with the amount of kit thatโ€™s fitted as standard. You canโ€™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 doesnโ€™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 carโ€™s settings, including the climate control. If you donโ€™t tend to change the temperature a lot, you probably wonโ€™t mind the lack of separate controls. For everyone else, itโ€™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, Peugeotโ€™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 thereโ€™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, itโ€™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 youโ€™re after a 2.0-litre diesel thatโ€™s cheap to run as a company car and well equipped, then consider a Volvo S60 D4 instead - it works out around ยฃ16 more per month. It doesnโ€™t offer the same hatchback practicality, but itโ€™s just as efficient and classy, not to mention more refined, composed and considerably more powerful.

Even if youโ€™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 weโ€™d recommend the Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI 150. For private buyers, it looks more expensive than the 308, but over three years itโ€™s actually ยฃ1500 cheaper โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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 doesnโ€™t play to its strengths.

What Car? saysโ€ฆ

Audi A3 Sportback
Skoda Octavia

Peugeot 308 2.0 BlueHDi 150

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from ยฃ19,995

Power 148bhp

Torque 277lb ft

0-62mph 8.6 seconds

Top speed 135mph

Fuel economy 72.4mpg

CO2 99g/km