Cannot be expressed in figures
And speaking of numbers: the "name" remains confusing. Once upon a time, the numbers followed each other at Peugeot. The 306 was followed by the 307, and then the 308. But with the 308, the brand stopped counting for reasons which are unclear, and so the object of this test is the third generation of the 308. What is very clear: more than ever before, Peugeot emphasizes the design.
The front is much sharper than before and therefore, the 308 has a much more modern appearance. Peugeot does not choose flowing or hard lines, but rather lines that give character. For example, notice the subtle line above the wheel arches, which makes the car seem wider and all the power seems to be directed to the front. At the rear, all the lines seem to come together and it is as if they are holding the car together in a tight knot. It is only a detail, but the 308 is the first Peugeot to carry the new logo of the brand and this also gives it a completely different look.
Like all other new Peugeot models, the 308 also distinguishes itself from other brands with the "iCockpit". Like in a sports car, the driver is forced into an active position behind a small steering wheel. This gives much better control over the car and a better overview of the clocks. The clocks are not behind the steering wheel, but on top of the steering column and thanks to the small steering wheel the view is not blocked. It may take some time to find a good sitting position in the iCockpit, but eventually both tall and short drivers will find an ideal one. After that, the iCockpit alone is already a reason to choose Peugeot!
Also new is the free-standing, prominent 10-inch display that seems to flow over into the buttons below it. Peugeot calls this the "iToggles". The structure of the various menus is based on that of mobile phones, and just like with a mobile phone, it is easy to scroll through the various options ("swipe"). Alternatively, a smart assistant is available that accepts freely formulated, spoken commands. It is certainly not as smart as the assistant in a smartphone, but if the subject of conversation is the car it all works quite well. To make the system smarter in the future, software updates can be sent to the car "over the air" (read: via internet).
The Peugeot 308 is available with traditional petrol and diesel engines, as well as a plug-in hybrid and even a fully electric version. For this test, a conventional engine was driven first: the 130 hp/230 Nm "1.2 PureTech" with manual gearbox. This power is more than sufficient, but next to the now more common engines with electrical assistance (hybrid), the suppleness leaves something to be desired. The gearbox shifts light and efficient, but is also outdated next to all the electric and semi-electric cars of today.
Therefore the 180 PS / 360 Nm plug-in hybrid (there is also a 225 PS version) was also driven. This one is fully electric for the first 60 km and then offers more peace and quiet than even the best petrol engine. Despite the active power source, the 308 is exceptionally quiet and can compete with cars from a higher segment. When the battery is almost empty, the petrol engine and the electric motor work together in harmony to provide the drive. It is hardly noticeable when switching from one power source to the other.
How economical the "308 Hybrid" really is, depends on the frequency of charging. Charging can be done at home or at a public charging point. Those who charge every 60 km, actually realize a consumption of zero. The more often the petrol engine is used, the higher the consumption.
Peugeot is part of a parent company that has more and more brands under its belt. Therefore, more and more cars are built on the same platform. The 308 shares its technical base with the Opel Astra, DS 4, DS 9 and Peugeot's own 508, 3008 and 5008. Of course, adjustments are made to give each car its own character, but basically, they are the same cars.
Just like its stablemates, the 308 has a good-natured character. The car does not invite fast cornering, but it is certainly capable of it. The brakes are biting and strong. This makes the car safe, but also ensures that it must be operated with extra care. Whoever slams on the brakes, unintentionally shows the passengers all sides of the interior!
What makes the 308 unique is again the "iCockpit". Thanks to the small steering wheel, a small movement is sufficient to steer a sharp bend. This makes the 308 feel smaller and nimbler than it actually is. Moreover, doing little to achieve a lot gives a superior feeling which characterizes the driving characteristics.
From a technical point of view, the third generation of the Peugeot 308 is fine. However, in the mid-segment all cars are good and therefore the bar is set very high. An advanced infotainment system, driver-assistants, a capable chassis and modern drive trains are the norm and not the exception.
What makes the 308 unique is the Peugeot character. The control and design are not only different, but above all, they are well thought-out and therefore more convenient and practical. Most defining for the character of the 308 is the "iCockpit". This provides a better overview, more control over the car and therefore automatically a more involved feeling for more driving pleasure. In short: it is not about the numbers, but about the character!
- Excellent driving characteristics
- Well thought-out and innovative ergonomics
- Also available as a hybrid and electric car
- Moderate legroom in the rear
- Unnecessarily complex operation of automatic gearbox