Peugeot 308 review

Caroline drives the new and improved Peugeot 308 on Irish roads.

Pros: Classy design, upmarket cabin, on the road refinement.

Cons: Driving position can be awkward, hybrids are expensive.

The new Peugeot 308 has arrived in Ireland and it’s the next chapter in the story of the Peugeot brand’s move upmarket. It stands out for its smart styling and there have been steps forward in cabin quality and refinement, as well as the addition of new electrified powertrains for the very first time.

But can the new 308 make a move on the titans of the compact class like the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla, and even more premium offerings like the Mazda3 and the BMW 1 Series?

Peugeot 308 Design

The Peugeot 308 is a great-looking car that can hold its own parked side by side with high-end hatchbacks like the Mazda3 and 1 Series. There’s a premium finish to the design of this new 308 that adds serious kerb appeal in the compact class. Low and lean, the new 308 gets a dramatic front end, characterised by the new Peugeot ‘lion shield’ logo in the centre of the impressive new grille with chrome detailing. LED lighting completes the high-tech look for this new 308. At the back, the 308 is sporty and gorgeous with new signature LED lighting, glossy black trim, and a black diffuser effect in the rear bumper.

Our test car was finished in Olivine Green, which is a standard colour and suits the 308exceptionally well. All versions get alloy wheels; 17-inch diamond cut for the mid-range Allure model on test.

Peugeot 308 Interior

The new 308 has a brand-new cabin that feels more upmarket than rivals like the Opel Astra or a Ford Focus, so certainly does go some way to justify the 308’s higher list price. The cabin design is stylish and avant-garde, backed up by a quality feel and lots of nice fabrics. Mid-range Allure models for example get ambient lighting and part-leather upholstery.

There’s also been a significant digital upgrade and the latest version of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit features. There’s a new compact steering wheel, above which sits the digital instrument cluster. Though we recommend you try before you buy as some might find the driving position awkward. There’s also a new 10-inch touchscreen for the infotainment with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s a nice system to use and Peugeot has added new i-Toggle switches to some versions so you can create shortcuts to popular menus.

Peugeot has lengthened the wheelbase to give rear seat passengers a bit more legroom, though rivals like the Focus and Golf still feel a bit more spacious in the rear. There’s 412 litres of boot space, which is good for this class of vehicle and should suit the needs of most families. You can also let down the rear seats for more space, and if you do need a bigger boot, there’s also a Peugeot 308 SW estate available.

Peugeot 308 Performance & Drive

The new Peugeot 308 is available with petrol and diesel engines from launch, and there are two hybrids to choose from for the first time. There’s also a full electric version expected by the end of 2023. Peugeot has dropped the manual gearbox from the line-up so the new 308 is now exclusively automatic, no matter which version you go for.

The most affordable entry into the range is the 1.2-litre petrol with 130hp and an 8-speed automatic gearbox. It’s a great match for the 308, offering lively performance so it feels like a larger and more powerful engine than what it is. The automatic gearbox is mostly smooth shifting, though it can hesitate a bit at low speeds around town. For a petrol automatic, it also scores well for efficiency, averaging about 6.3 litres per 100 kilometres during our time with the car. If you do a lot of high-speed motorway driving, you might still want to look at the 1.5-litre diesel with 130hp.

The plug-in hybrids come in two different power outputs - 180hp and 225hp. They are the most expensive to buy of the range. But they can be plugged in, charged and driven electric for up to 60 kilometres, ideal if you have a short commute or do a lot of town driving. 

It's fair to say that the new Peugeot 308 is a lovely car to spend time in. It handles nicely without being overly sporty-biased. With the ease of the automatic gearbox, it’s a car that offers a relaxing drive from behind the wheel. With improvements to comfort and refinement, this is certainly a more high-end driving experience than before.

Peugeot 308 Pricing

The new Peugeot 308 is available in three trim levels – Active, Allure and GT. It goes on sale priced from €31,765 for a 308 Active 1.2 petrol automatic with 130hp. Allure models go on sale from €35,705 and GT models from €39,215.

Carzone Verdict

The new Peugeot 308 might cost a bit more to buy than an Astra or Focus, but it stands out for its style and high-quality interior. It has clearly moved up a gear in line with Peugeot’s promise to move their brand upmarket. The 308 might still find it hard to convince premium car buyers to ditch the keys of their BMW or Audi, but it can certainly now be considered in the company of high-end hatchbacks like the Golf and Mazda3.

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