Peugeot 308

Here’s a little bit of motoring trivia that you may or may not know – apologies in advance if you’ve heard it before. In 1963 when Porsche unveiled their new 901 sports coupe at the Frankfurt Motorshow, Peugeot kicked up a fuss. The French manufacturer claimed that they owned the rights to all three number vehicular nomenclatures with a zero in the middle and they wouldn’t back down.  Porsche, then just a small family owned car-maker duly relented and re-named their little rear-engined beetle-like coupe. It became the 911; the rest as the say is history.

Why I am mentioning any of this?  You might well ask. Well, perhaps now 50 or so years later Peugeot are running out of three digit zero-centred numbers. You see, the car I’ve just spent the week driving is their new 308 and it replaces… the Peugeot 308. Conventional wisdom would’ve perhaps dictated that the new successor to their family favourite C-Segment hatch would’ve been tagged 309 but Peugeot have already built a car called the 309 – it was a bigger version of what was probably their biggest hit, The 205. They’ve built the 304, the 305, the 306 and the 307 too.

So, is the new 308 a case of plus ca change, plus ca la meme chose maybe?

Not really. No. The new 308 is in fact all-new and it’s the car that Peugeot hope will tempt not only the masses away from their Focuses Meganes and Astras, but also the more well heeled away from their Golfs, their Audi A3’s and even their Mercedes A-Classes. Peugeot see themselves as going up-market; they want the car buying public, and the fickle fleet buyers to do the same.

Now, if you’re not all numbered-out already, lets look at a few of the 308’s more quantifiable statistics.

At 4.25 metres long, 1.46metres wide and 1.80 metres high, the 308 is more-or-less the same size as most of its aforementioned contemparies. Peugeot claim that thanks to a 140kg weight saving over the previous incarnation of the 308, 3kg of which is down to the composite thermoplastic tailgate – a world-first apparently and one of 116 patents filed during the 308’s design process – the new 308 (in record low 82g/km CO2 guise) is capable of a whopping 91.1mpg on the combined cycle. You can probably thank the body’s 0.28cd for that.

Sadly there wasn’t time for me to clock up the 2 million test miles that Peugeot say they put the 308 through before putting it on sale, but I did do quite a few. Whether or not I matched the 1560cc e-HDi 115’s official figure of 74.3mpg whilst putting it through its paces in the Shropshire Marches I can’t fully confirm. The 308’s trip computer is controlled, as is the radio, the Bluetooth connection, the sat-nav, the air-conditioning, and this being the 21st century all of the Apps too, by the 9.7inch touchscreen that sits centre-stage atop the dash. It’s beautifully integrated but takes a while to fathom as there no default home screen from which you can select all of its functions. Personally, and call me a luddite if you like, I’d prefer a few more tactile switches instead of the 308’s deliberately minimalist and near button-free interior treatment, but perhaps that’s just me. But tell me Peugeot; what exactly is one to do if said touchscreen goes wrong?

Also, while I’m on the subject of niggles. The tiny (351mm x 329mm) steering wheel that Peugeot insists on fitting these days obscures nearly all of the dials, unless you’re prepared to drive with it in your lap, which is a shame because from the passenger seat where you can see them perfectly those same dials look rather good. And, I have to mention the wheels as well. Although extremely attractive in their appearance, the 18” alloys and the low profile 40 section tyres fitted as standard to Feline spec 308’s are, regrettably, to ride quality, what Jive Bunny was to opera.

Perhaps though, I’m being a little harsh. The truth is the 308 is rather an attractive and altogether well proportioned car that, even close up, could easily be mistaken for the Germanic fayre with which it’s trying to compete. The boot’s huge, it’s quiet when cruising, it handles well – infact better than expected, and as long as you keep the turbo spinning it’s more than capable of providing ample day-to-day performance. Even the tax disc (in the test car’s case at least) is free.

In all fairness, the 308 is probably the best, most handsome and most sophisticated looking Peugeot we’ve seen in decades – RCZ included. It’s also just been voted car of the year 2014. Only time will tell, if with their latest 308, Peugeot have a number 1 on their hands.

 

Peugeot 308 Feline 1.6 e-HDi 115

Engine: 1560cc, 4Cyl, 8V Turbo-diesel.
Transmission: 6 speed. Front Wheel Drive
Power: 115 bhp @ 3600rpm
Torque: 199 lbft @1750 rpm
0-62mph: 11.9 sec
Max Speed: 118 mph
MPG: 74.3 combined.
CO2: 100g/km
VED Band: A
Price: from £21,745

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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