Peugeot 308

Peugeot's 308 keeps getting better looking with age, but what’s it like behind the wheel?

The 308 was updated in June 2017 and now looks good enough to eat. Even the delivery driver, admittedly booked by Peugeot to deliver the car to me, said he was going to persuade his VW Golf-loving wife to buy one. The guy wasn't on commission as he worked for a delivery agency - he was just genuinely surprised by how much he liked the hatchback.
Importantly, I tried not to be influenced by his comments – you need to follow your own thoughts if you’re serious about reviewing. However, as much as I didn't want to agree with him, I couldn't help it. The five-door car isn't perfect – very little in life is – but it’s seriously good for a compact family motor.

So, let’s look at why it’s so decent. Firstly, last year’s facelift wasn't a massive operation – at least aesthetically speaking. There was just a tweak of the bumpers, headlights and grille. More safety equipment was also shoehorned in, as well as a better infotainment system. The most significant element of the update though was the ushering in of a new power plant – the 1.5-litre BlueHDI 130 diesel. This is the engine fitted to the model reviewed here.

Significantly, the diesel complies with the Euro-6c emissions directive, which will be implemented entirely in 2020. This aims to axe emissions of the nitrogen oxides (NOx) assessed in real-life tests, instead of in a lab. So, if you want to buy a diesel that isn't going to be demonised now, or in the future, then you should keep this 308 in mind. The 1.5-litre BlueHDI 130 is a refined unit, so it makes the French hatchback very hushed on the move. I had to remind myself I was even in a diesel – seriously; it's that quiet. It also pulls well, even when fitted with an automatic ‘box. If anything, Peugeot’s new eight-speed Efficient Automatic Transmission (EAT8) is better than the six-speed manual. It seamlessly moves through the cogs, making the drive an effortless one.
Intriguingly, Peugeot has kept the excellent i-Cockpit and switchgear arrangement, and the infotainment system’s display is no bigger than before. However, the standard-fit piece of kit is quicker to respond and is more intuitive. Handily it now encompasses Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, too.

The steering and suspension haven’t been revised either. There was no point, both have always been well suited to the car’s size. The steering gives good feedback and weights up subtly. The ride is also very compliant, coping admirably with the UK’s network of blemished bitumen. 
Indeed, the 308 offers an engaging drive, which is on a par with other European challengers – including VW’s Golf and SEAT’s Leon. In 1.5-litre BlueHDI 130 diesel auto guise, 0-62mph is reached in 10.2 seconds, and the maximum speed is 127mph.

Perhaps more notably, Peugeot claims the combined mpg for this car is 76.3. On a mixed run of urban and rural roads, and carting my three kids about, I managed mid-60s mpg. Not at all bad in terms of real-world family hatchback efficiency. And when it comes to safety, the 308 has it sorted. The car has a whole range of tech to keep the worst from happening, including lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and speed limit recognition. 
The plug is pulled on Peugeot’s party a little bit when you realise the 308 it’s not as roomy in the back as most of its challengers. But that’s only because the automaker has given the model a larger boot. Overall the new 1.5-litre engine makes up for any shortcomings, and this, alongside the other updates, means it needs to be on your shortlist of motors.

Pros ‘n’ Cons
  • Looks √
  • Efficiency √
  • Ride √
  • Safety √
  • Rear seat space X

Fast Facts (308 1.5 BlueHDI 130 GT Line EAT8 - as tested)
  • Max speed: 127 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 10.2 secs
  • Combined mpg: 76.3
  • Engine layout: 1499cc 4-cylinder diesel turbo
  • Max. power (PS): 130
  • CO2: 96 g/km
  • Price: £25,550

Written for CarCliq by motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay.
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