Peugeot 308 review

Category: Family car

The 308 has an attractive interior and plenty of engine options but there are better family cars

Peugeot 308 front cornering
  • Peugeot 308 front cornering
  • Peugeot 308 rear cornering
  • Kiall Garrett test driving Peugeot 308
  • Kiall Garrett loading Peugeot 308 boot
  • Peugeot 308 driver display
  • Peugeot 308 right driving
  • Peugeot 308 front cornering
  • Peugeot 308 front right driving
  • Peugeot 308 rear right driving
  • Kiall Garrett testing Peugeot 308 front seats
  • Peugeot 308 back seats
  • Peugeot 308 dashboard
  • Peugeot 308 steering wheel
  • Peugeot 308 infotainment touchscreen
  • Peugeot 308 infotainment shortcuts
  • Peugeot 308 interior detail
  • Peugeot 308 front cornering
  • Peugeot 308 rear cornering
  • Kiall Garrett test driving Peugeot 308
  • Kiall Garrett loading Peugeot 308 boot
  • Peugeot 308 driver display
  • Peugeot 308 right driving
  • Peugeot 308 front cornering
  • Peugeot 308 front right driving
  • Peugeot 308 rear right driving
  • Kiall Garrett testing Peugeot 308 front seats
  • Peugeot 308 back seats
  • Peugeot 308 dashboard
  • Peugeot 308 steering wheel
  • Peugeot 308 infotainment touchscreen
  • Peugeot 308 infotainment shortcuts
  • Peugeot 308 interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

While good looks can help you stand out in a crowd, sometimes beauty is only skin deep. In the case of the Peugeot 308 hatchback, a striking appearance could help it get your attention – but for lasting success it must be as good or better than rival family cars.

That won't be easy because there are plenty of other models to consider. So buyers will also be looking at the sharp-handling Ford Focus and Seat Leon, the remarkably efficient Toyota Corolla and the big-selling VW Golf (to name a few).

It's a good thing then that the Peugeot 308 has another ace up its sleeve: plug-in hybrid power. That’s something the Golf offers but not the other models and makes the 308 particular worthy of consideration if you're looking for your next company car.

So is that enough to propel the Peugeot 308 into the ranks of the best family cars available or is it a case of style and a bit of hybrid tech over substance? Read on to find out how we rate it against rivals (which also include the closely related Vauxhall Astra).

Or if you're interested in the all-electric version, perhaps an even more tax-efficient company car, see our Peugeot e-308 review.

Overview

With a smart interior, plenty of standard equipment and a variety of engines, the Peugeot 308 has a few strengths. Sadly, it's outclassed in many areas by other family cars. Unless you want the electric e-308, company car drivers will be best served by the Hybrid 180, otherwise private buyers will want to keep purchasing costs low with the Puretech petrol engine. Meanwhile, Allure trim makes the most sense.

  • Plug-in hybrid offers attractive tax bills
  • Smart interior
  • Well equipped
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Disappointing to drive
  • Sluggish infotainment system
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Peugeot 308 1.6 Hybrid Allure 5dr e-EAT8 review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Respectable performance
  • +Calm high-speed ride

Weaknesses

  • -Grabby brakes
  • -Rivals are sweeter to drive
  • -1.2 Puretech has a hesitant automatic gearbox

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The cheapest engine for the Peugeot 308 is a 1.2 petrol with 129bhp (badged 1.2 PureTech 130). It comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard and delivers acceleration that's respectable enough, with 0-62mph taking around 9.7 seconds. That’s a little slower than a Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid (at 9.1 seconds).

For a little more money, there’s a Hybrid 136 version that uses mild-hybrid tech to bolster performance and fuel economy from the same 1.2-litre engine. Power goes up a little, to 134bhp, while a small electric motor helps deliver a slightly faster 0-62mph time of 9.3 seconds. It can occasionally cover very short distances on electric power alone to save fuel.

There’s also a 1.5-litre diesel (badged 1.5 BlueHDI 130) producing an identical 129bhp. It has the same automatic gearbox and pulls well from low revs, although it doesn't rev as sweetly as the 1.2 petrol. 

Finally, there are two plug-in hybrid (PHEV) options, starting with the Hybrid 180. It mates a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor for a combined 178bhp – enough for 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds.

The PHEV's 12.4kWh battery pack offers an official electric-only range of around 35 miles, although you'll struggle to do more than 30 miles in the real world before the petrol engine cuts in. Meanwhile, a more powerful Hybrid 225 version adds more power, although acceleration is barely any quicker, with a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds.

Peugeot 308 image
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Suspension and ride comfort

From the moment you pull away, it’s clear Peugeot has tried to prioritise ride comfort over handling – but in the end the 308 feels a little compromised. 

Its suspension is noticeably softer than the set-up on the Ford Focus and Seat Leon but it lacks the body control of those family cars. So while it feels relatively calm at a motorway cruise, once you turn off and on to a more demanding stretch of undulating Tarmac, it can feel quite floaty over crests and dips.

If that were the only issue we wouldn't grumble, but during town driving we've found that larger abrasions such as expansion joints and potholes tend to send jolts and shudders through the 308’s structure.

We recommend sticking with smaller alloy wheels if comfort is a priority. Wheels of up to 18in are available but the 16in rims are likely to give you the best cushioning. The ride in the PHEV versions is slightly firmer than in the regular petrol and diesel because of the extra weight of the battery packs.

Peugeot 308 rear cornering

Handling

The 308 isn’t the sort of car you’ll be inclined to go for a drive in just for the heck of it. It’s grippy enough and far from a wallowy barge through corners but you don’t feel particularly involved in the experience.

Likewise, while the small steering wheel is effortless to turn, there isn’t a great sense of connection with the front wheels.

The Toyota Corolla and VW Golf handle a bit more sweetly than the 308, but if you want a family car that will really put a smile on your face, check out the Ford Focus and Seat Leon.

Noise and vibration

In the regular 1.2 petrol, the driving experience is tarnished by the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox. As you pull out of a junction there’s often a pause while the gearbox decides which gear it wants to be in.

Even worse is how the gearbox dovetails with the engine’s stop-start system. It makes it almost impossible to drive this 308 smoothly in slow-moving traffic. No version of the 308 is available with a manual gearbox.

The PHEV versions are smoother to drive and fairly quiet when running in electricity alone, although the grabby brake pedal response makes it difficult to reduce your speed smoothly. There's some wind noise on motorways in all versions: noise levels are about on a par with a Seat Leon but higher than in a Corolla or Golf.

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Classy choice of materials
  • +Good fit and finish

Weaknesses

  • -Driving position might not suit everyone
  • -Touchscreen response time could be snappier

Driving position and dashboard

The 308’s driving position is somewhat unusual. As with other Peugeot car models there’s a high-set digital instrument panel that you’re supposed to view over rather than through a tiny steering wheel.

The good news is that none of our testers struggled to see the instruments (a problem in the Peugeot 208). The bad news is that the driving position is still a bit awkward for some – you almost feel as though you’re sitting on the floor.

All trim levels come with adjustable lumbar support to aid comfort, while top-spec GT is available with a massage function.

It’s just a shame you have to faff around with the infotainment touchscreen to adjust the interior temperature. In a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla you simply twist a well-positioned dial – an act that’s less distracting when you’re driving.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Front visibility in the 308 is good, thanks to a low dashboard and slim windscreen pillars, which mean you don’t have to constantly recheck your sides at junctions. The view out of the back is hampered by wider pillars and a smaller back window than you’ll find in the Ford Focus and Seat Leon.

Fortunately, every 308 comes with rear parking sensors as standard, while GT trim gets front and rear sensors. A rear-view camera is standard on Allure trim and above, while a 360-degree one is optional on these trims.

Eco LED headlights come as standard on lower-spec 308s while GT trim gets full matrix LED lights, which automatically adapt their pattern to provide maximum visibility without dazzling other drivers.

Kiall Garrett test driving Peugeot 308

Sat nav and infotainment

The i-Cockpit infotainment system – presented on a 10in touchscreen in the 308 – features clear, crisp graphics but can be a little slow to respond to your inputs. Plus, the illogical menus mean it’s more distracting to use than systems offered by rivals, especially those with a rotary controller like the one in a Mazda 3.

You can bypass some of the Peugeot’s system because Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring are included as standard.

Or, you can use the natural voice recognition software, which lets you ask the car to alter the temperature, change the radio station or set a new sat-nav destination merely by talking to the car. It works well when stationary but is not so successful with the background noise of a car full of people.

Need to charge up your phone? There are two USB ports in the front of the 308, while Allure trim and above provides two more in the rear.

Quality

The surfaces you’ll touch regularly in the 308 feel premium enough and are covered with squidgy plastics and soft-touch materials. Further down, there are harder, scratchier plastics, including around the lower door cards and central tunnel.

The Skoda Octavia is better here, because while it too features harder plastics lower down, they feel pleasant enough to touch. The 308 is about on a par with the Seat Leon and everything feels well screwed together and built to last.

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Plenty of space in the front
  • +Competitive boot size

Weaknesses

  • -Some rivals have more space in the back

Front space

Even those who are both big and tall will have no problems with space in the front of the Peugeot 308. There’s plenty of head and leg room, and very little chance of you rubbing shoulders with the person sitting next to you.

You’ll find numerous options to stow your keys, wallet or whatever else you might want to bring with you. Spaces range from a wide door bin (carpeted at the bottom to limit rattles) to a deep cubby under the central arm rest.

Your phone will slide neatly into a recess at the front of the centre console. On Allure trim and above you get a wireless charging pad in there too.

Rear space

A six-footer sitting behind someone else the same height won’t want to be in the back of the 308 for very long. Their head is likely to be brushing the roof, their knees will be pressed into the seatback in front and there’s not much foot space.

It’s similar to the closely-related Vauxhall Astra – meaning smaller adults or children will be fine, but if you plan to carry lofty passengers frequently, the Ford Focus and Skoda Octavia are definitely better bets. Similarly, anyone in the middle seat will be rubbing shoulders with the person next to them, and has to straddle a central tunnel, but for short journeys it should be fine.

There’s more storage for oddments in the rear, with wide door bins and a cubby for your change on the back of the centre console.

Kiall Garrett loading Peugeot 308 boot

Seat folding and flexibility

The 308’s rear seats fold down in a 60/40 arrangement, which is pretty standard for family cars in this price bracket. Allure trim and above includes a ski hatch to allow you to thread longer items between two passengers.

If you want a more flexible 40/20/40 split, you’ll need to spend more and get a mid-spec Audi A3 or a Mercedes A-Class.

Boot space

With 412 litres of boot space for petrol/diesel versions, the 308 beats most rivals (not including the vast Skoda Octavia) in terms of capacity, so even a family incapable of travelling light should have no trouble fitting in their holiday luggage.

The boot is a useful square shape with only a small loading lip at its entrance, which makes heaving your items in and out easier. There's no option to have a height-adjustable boot floor.

It’s worth noting that if you go for a plug-in hybrid 308, the boot shrinks a little to 361 litres to accommodate the 12.4kWh battery pack under the boot floor. We could only fit five carry-on suitcases which is typical for a PHEV family car.

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Plenty of standard equipment
  • +Strong fuel economy

Weaknesses

  • -A little more expensive than some rivals
  • -Rivals achieve higher safety ratings

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The Peugeot 308 is priced broadly in line with the Ford Focus and costs slightly more than a Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia and Vauxhall Astra. A Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic will cost even more.

It’s worth sticking to one of the 308's lower-end trims to ensure the best value for money, with mid-level Allure bringing all the extras you’d need.

There are often good discounts on Peugeot car models and it's worth keeping an eye out for offers on our New Car Deals pages. The 308 is predicted to hold on to its value better than the Seat Leon, Toyota Corolla and VW Golf so competitive PCP finance deals are available. 

The 1.2-litre petrols and the 1.5-litre diesel are fairly frugal, with official economy of more than 50mpg for the petrol and more than 60mpg for the Hybrid 136. The diesel also has a near-60mpg figure.

On our real-world test route, the petrol returned 43.4mpg, which is a little disappointing (the 1.8 Corolla managed 55.5mpg). CO2 emissions are reasonably low, but to get the lowest BIK tax rate company car users would be better off trying the PHEV 180 or going for the Peugeot e-308.

The PHEVs take just over seven hours to charge to 100% if you’re using a three-pin plug. That drops to one hour, 40 minutes if you use a 3.4kW home wall box charger and opt for the 308’s optional 7.4kW on-board charger (the standard model is 3.7kW)

Equipment, options and extras

The 308 range is broken up into Active, Allure and GT trims and no version is poorly equipped. Standard kit includes 16in alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, and a six-speaker sound system.

Allure is the lowest trim available with a PHEV model (the 180) and is our preferred trim. It adds 17in alloys and a useful rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control, rear privacy glass, a rear centre armrest and a ski hatch. 

GT adds luxuries including larger alloy wheels, keyless entry and Alcantara leather trim inside, but costs too much to recommend.

Peugeot 308 driver display

Reliability

This latest 308 is too new to have featured in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Peugeot as a brand came 21st out of 32 manufacturers (one place above VW).

The previous-generation version was mid-table in its class, beating the Vauxhall Astra by some margin, but the Ford Focus and VW Golf ranked higher.

Every 308 comes with a three-year, 60,000-miles warranty, while the 12.4kWh battery pack of the PHEVs is covered for up to eight years or 100,000 miles.

Safety and security

When it comes to safety, the 308 scored a slightly disappointing four stars out of five when it was tested by Euro NCAP. It scored well in most areas but protection for the driver's chest was found to be fairly weak. Most family cars score five stars. 

Better news is that the list of standard safety kit is comprehensive. Blind-spot detection, a speed limiter, cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and traffic-sign recognition are all included, as is an automatic emergency braking (AEB) system that can recognise pedestrians and cyclists.

A semi-automatic lane-changing system and systems that can automatically adjust your speed for bends in the road or according to traffic signs also feature on the options list.


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FAQs

  • Yes. The regular 308 is available as a plug-in hybrid and you can also buy an electric car version – you can read about that in our Peugeot e-308 review.

  • Peugeot’s i-Cockpit set-up includes a 10in infotainment touchscreen has crisp graphics, plenty of customisation options and shortcut buttons. It can be slow to respond to your touch and some of the smaller icons are tricky to hit while you're driving but you do get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring.

At a glance
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Target Price from £24,722
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From £22,295
RRP price range £28,240 - £42,170
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)6
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, diesel, petrol parallel phev, electric
MPG range across all versions 242.7 - 62.6
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £80 / £1,877
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £160 / £3,754
Available colours