Peugeot’s all-new 308 is enjoying a successful introduction, having recently being declared as the 2014 European Car of the Year. It’s a worthy recipient too, with stylish looks, excellent build quality, economical engines and competent driving dynamics.
The new 308 is available across three trim levels, Access, Active and Allure. The stand level of equipment on the entry-level Access model is sufficient with LED daytime running lights, cruise control, Bluetooth and USB Connectivity and air conditioning all included. We would envisage the mid-range Active model to comprise the majority of sales. Our test car was the range-topping Allure variant, it comes equipped with a host of equipment. This includes, 17” alloy wheels, full LED headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights, sports front seats, electric folding door mirrors, front fog lights, rear parking sensors, hill assist, 9.7” colour touch screen and climate control, amongst many others. Our test car also benefited from the optional leather pack (€2,475), the quality of the leather is excellent, the seats are soft, extremely comfortable and supportive, they are also heated and have a massaging function for both driver and front seat passenger, perfect for long journeys. Another favourite of ours is the panoramic roof which allows an immense amount of light into the spacious cabin, it has an electric opening and closing blind if you wish to shade all occupants.
This new Peugeot 308 is a smart, stylish looking car from all angles and certainly rivals the established Volkswagen Golf in this department. The interior has taken a step up in quality over its predecessor. The quality and feel of all the switch gear is top-notch, there is a quality feel to the interior, aided by the subtle use of aluminium for the gear knob and along the door cards. Peugeot’s designers have smartened the 308’s interior extensively by de-cluttering the centre console. In place of traditional switches the vast majority of the car’s systems are controlled through the 9.7” colour touch screen, centrally mounted. Navigating your way through the various menus for climate, telephone and radio etc is effortless. The seating position is central, with the steering wheel and pedals all inline with each other. Peugeot has come in for some criticism since it first introduced its new small steering wheel in the 208, it’s now also in this 308. It’s satisfying to hold and once you adjust your seat and the wheel itself to suit your height you can get into a comfortable position and clearly see the instrument cluster ahead.
Customers can choose from three engines to power their 308, a 1.2-litre Vti petrol engine that delivers 82hp, and a 1.6-litre Hdi diesel engine, available in two power outputs 92hp and 115hp. The 1.6-litre diesel power plant is a gem of an engine, it’s hard to believe its performance figures on paper are true. It produces 115hp and 270Nm of torque, although in reality it feels more like 150hp, no doubt aided by the high torque figure for a car of this size and weight. The six-speed manual transmission provides a light, short and fluid gear change, combined with a responsive chassis, the 308 is entertaining to drive on a twisty section of road.
Peugeot has designed and manufactured a quality hatch with this all-new 308, one that can confidentially challenge for market share against the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon and Ford Focus. For the petrolheads you can look forward to the possibility of a hardcore R variant, if the 308 R will be anything close to the Peugeot RCR R, then we’re in for a real treat. For the regular motorist this new Peugeot 308 will deliver on all fronts, backed up with a five year / 100,000km warranty.
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