Review: Peugeot 308
Having been invited to join the team at family-run Gateway Peugeot in Crewe, I’d describe my expectations of the new Peugeot 308 as being fairly “average” as an all-round choice. Undeterred by this, I set off to see what all the fuss was about and whether it could live up to its cliched rival, the Volkswagen Golf.
Firstly, the car I looked at was a left-hand drive, which meant no driving for me! The right-hand drive versions are being built - probably as I type - and will be delivered to the UK in time for January, when the car officially goes on sale.
The new Peugeot, as I mentioned, is up against some stiff competition. It’s in the most popular category of car, the one with the Ford Focus and Volkswagen’s Golf alongside a generous handful of others, all competing to be the favourite.
The car certainly has a touch of premium to it, though, in comparison to its many rivals. Peugeot haven’t skimped on the materials used for the interior and there are a couple of quite remarkable options - believe it or not, I tried out the cars massaging seats! Amazing!
Another area where Peugeot haven’t held back is testing. They wanted the car to feel “like new” after three years and so the test car has driven the equivalent distance of going to the moon and back five times! They opened and closed the boot 6,000 times! They prodded the touchscreen… well… you get the idea!
In total, the car has racked up over 4 million km of testing, with over 1,800 checks on every vehicle being produced. They’ve even managed to squeeze in a few “best in class” statistics too, such as largest boot and best CO2 values, and extensive market research left them to conclude it has achieved the same status as its rivals in terms of quality perception.
In terms of appearance, I think this car has the edge on some of its siblings in the French carmakers range - except for the 208, from whom it has clearly borrowed some good looks. That’s not a bad decision, considering the 208 possibly appeals to a younger, trendier end of the market.
The car is cleverly built on a brand new chassis design and, whilst that’s nothing particularly special in itself (as manufacturers do update their chassis every once in a while), this particular design is intended to be as future proof as possible. The chassis is modular, making it adaptable and meaning that the manufacturer can now ensure it matches perfectly with future models.
It’s the very first Peugeot to benefit from this design, as well as a couple of other nice tweaks which make it a completely different car from the previous vehicle to use the 308 mantle. The manufacturers have shaved 6cm from the front overhang, greatly improving handling, whilst also reducing its height by 3cm and its length by 4cm.
Boot space has increased by 22% compared to the previous model and the car also weighs 140kg (equivalent to two adults!) less than its predecessor. Having been on such a radical diet, the car has managed to maintain the same amount of space in the back - and I honestly felt, as a passenger in the front, that there was plenty of space to move around inside.
The centre console is also very nice. It has the familiarity of a handheld tablet, and is certainly an option you should be choosing if you get the car. The dashboard is kept incredibly free of clutter as a result and everything - from SatNav to DAB radio, as well as air conditioning plus your own photo gallery - can be controlled from just one touch screen.
With based models starting from around £15,000 on the road as an RRP, the new 308 hatchback is managing to steal a bit of an edge of some pricier rivals, although you will have to wait a little while for some models with additional spec, due to be released in March and July.
Of course, all of this is good news for the family-run firm in Crewe, as they’ll soon be trying to persuade you that the 308 is the strongest contender to the Golf and Focus and should be your next choice of car. I don’t think they’ll find it too difficult - the car has a lot going for it, with a very comfortable ride and benefits from much-improved styling. Definitely one to consider.