Peugeot 308 (2007 - 2013)
A strong number
It seems a little over the top to introduce a whole new series for the 308: the car is built on the same floor plate as the 307;, the engine for the most part is taken directly from the 307; and outward appearances indicate a lot of similarities with the existing models.
However once on the road, the difference is immediately evident. The first of which is the enormous windshield which runs both higher and lower to provide a great sense of space and a better view respectively. The test car also has a huge glass panoramic roof. A greater sense of freedom can only be found in a convertible.
The 307 caused a revolution in the car world as the car was just as long as but significantly higher than the average car. With this, the 307 offered an unprecedented amount of interior space. The 308 offers as much space, but due to a clever design amongst which are the lowered seats, the roof line is in fact lower with a better streamline.
Upfront, the 308 offers an abundance of head and legroom. The front seats are positioned suitably apart to provide sufficient movement. However the space on the back seat and in the boot is no more than average.
The layout of the dashboard is typical of Peugeot, with the instruments being immediately recognizable as standard Peugeot-components. Unfortunately that means that the speedometer only indicates French speeds exactly. 100 and 120 km/hr have not been indicated with numbers on the calibration resulting in the driver have to estimate where these speed marks are located. The better-behaved driver thus runs the risk of looking at the speedometer more often than the surrounding traffic.
The radio/CD-player can not only be controlled using a paddle on the steering wheel but also knows how to deal with mp3 files. The onboard computer can provide information for two journeys. Cruise-control also functions as a speed limiter. A nice and pleasant option is of course the scent diffuser, which always ensures an agreeable scent in the car.
As mentioned earlier, the 308 is built on the same floor plate as its predecessor. Yet, this newcomer behaves quite differently. The 308 is not a new car with old technology; it belongs at the top of its class. The suspension is precise, just as it should be: neither too soft; nor too hard. The sensation of the steering wheel is good, with the majority of drivers being able to feel the car's limits.
Since the 308 is a car for everyone; it is also intended for every kind of driving style. It is neither a concentrated sports nor comfort car: the 308 is a car for all men.
The sophisticated suspension ensures that safety is of the utmost importance. Even in unexpected swerves, this Gaul stays cool as a cucumber. Dependent on engine capacity, an electronic stability system (ESP) is either standard or optional. With its fine suspension, it is not really necessary.
Positioned halfway down the doors, it takes a little while to get accustomed to the small mirrors. Some drivers may complain about the engine bonnet not being visible from the driver's seat; however this is the case with most modern cars.
Since its introduction, the 308 is available with a broad spectrum of engines. The petrol engines vary in capacity from 95 up to 175 bhp. The diesel engines offer from 90 up to 136 bhp, and are always equipped with a particle filter. The test car had an 110 bhp diesel engine, which comes highly recommended.
Even after a cold start (pre-heating the engine is no longer needed), the engine is quiet and vibration-free, which instinctively makes the car feel more comfortable. Although 110 bhp is by current standards a small capacity, the performance of this 1.6 litre diesel is very good. In comparison with the diesel engine in the 307, this new engine has a lot more character. When accelerating considerably, this diesel gives a nice little kick in the back.
When it is driven calmly, the 308 1.6 HDiF is remarkably silent and comfortable. It is at this moment that the lack of sixth gear is noticeable as the engine is more than strong enough to move up a gear with less revs. Nevertheless the average consumption over a distance of 1,000 km came out at almost 62 MPG.
This is not a revolution. The Peugeot 307 was the first car which looked to height and consequently with its unusual construction caused a real revolution in the car world. The Peugeot 308 is at most an evolution. The car has been refined on all counts: the engines are stronger and cleaner; the interior is roomier and more completely finished; the exterior is more streamlined and elegant; the equipment is more modern and complete. The 308 is a worthy successor to the 307.
Yet at the same time, the 308 is well able to distinguish itself from the competition. Although the car is on no count significantly better, it scores very well on all fronts. Consequently, as a whole picture the 308 makes for a strong number. Doesn't that sound familiar?