In these days of SUVs, crossovers and electric cars, the 308 stakes a claim for the merits of the good old family hatchback. For a start, it’s great value with prices that typically undercut most of the rivals. Add in the attractive design, impressive interior and big boot, and this five-door Peugeot starts making great sense.
Admittedly, the first generation of the 308 looked a little dated. Then, the new car arrived in 2013. This model looked so much better than before that it was voted 2014 European Car of the Year. That’s right, a range of small family five-door hatchbacks and estates beat new models from Mercedes, BMW and Tesla to the crown.
The 308 has been updated slightly since then. What you’ll get now is a neat, sensible design that’s fairly timeless and understated — there’s no gimmicky crowd-pleasing flairs or wings that will go out of fashion within a few months. The estate version is a particularly classic design.
It was voted 2014 European Car of the Year.
What’s it like to drive?
Another reason why the 308 was voted Car of the Year was that the new generation marked something of a return to the days of great handling Peugeots. The new suspension was shared with its sister car, the Citroen C4, and both were found to offer an impressive ride on bumpy roads.
Drivers will find most versions of the 308 handle in a composed and predictable way, and passengers will enjoy how comfortable and quiet the ride is. Even the smallest engines are smooth, even if the acceleration is rather sedate. The top-of-the-range, sportier models, however, add extra performance and the thrills of agile cornering to the package.
A return to the days of great handling Peugeots.
The Peugeot 308’s interior is impressive. It arrived around the time that Peugeot decided to move up-market and you can see the result when you get inside – and feel it. That’s because the materials are a big step forward from the previous generation of Peugeots. The interior feels well put-together, with a quality you wouldn’t expect from the price.
Note that after a refresh in 2017, more sophisticated equipment was added across the range. You’ll now enjoy better connectivity and safety features.
The base models are designed for hire car and learner fleets. They’re good value cars but are very basic. Go a couple of notches up the trim ladder to discover 308 models that are well appointed, with most versions fitted with air-conditioning, DAB radio, electric windows and remote central locking. Of course, as you reach the top of that ladder, you’ll get increasingly good equipment. The top versions offer luxuries like a sunroof, parking sensors and keyless operation.
In all cars, the dashboard is impressively minimalist with a small sporty steering wheel set lower than the instruments. It’s a classy look but a few drivers find the rim of this sporty little wheel obscures the instruments — it’s worth sitting in the driver’s seat to check.
The front seats are spacious for even large adults and the feel of the front of the cabin is rather impressive. The minimalist design looks clean and uncluttered. There is a trade-off – there are fewer bins and shelves for stowing oddments.
Lift the tailgate and you find the hatchback’s boot is huge – much bigger than most rivals. Fold the back seats flat and there’s a cavernous space for shifting things. The downside to this is that there’s less space for the rear seats. Despite a big hollow in the back of the seats in front, most adults struggle for legroom, so these rear seats suit children best.
There are six-speed automatics and five- and six-speed manual gearboxes available — the six-speed box is a good choice if you do a lot of motorway trips. Most 308s come with a modern electronic parking brake and it’s worth trying it out, although many drivers prefer the good old lever handbrake.
Running costs and reliability
The 308’s wide range of petrol and diesel engines offer everything from miserly running costs to thrilling hot hatchbacks. One version, the 1.6 BlueHDi diesel, claims an amazing 91mpg.
Even in real-world driving many of the diesels can return better than 70mpg, while many of the petrol models around 60mpg. The range also generally has low servicing costs and low road tax.
What we love
This Peugeot model is proof that the classic family hatchback still has a lot going for it. The Peugeot 308 is great value, cheap to run and fun to drive. The front seats are a fine place to spend some time and that big boot is a bonus for families who won’t mind that the restricted back seats are best for kids.
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The 308 is a neat-looking small family hatchback that is good value and cheap to run. It drives well and is comfortable. There’s plenty of space in the front and in the boot. The best-for-kids back seat doesn’t matter to most families with children so it makes lots of sense as a used buy.
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