There is a virtual absence of buttons but all the technology and creature comforts we expect to find in a car these days are still present ...
The name may seem familiar but there’s nothing old hat about the latest generation Peugeot 308. In fact, the five-door hatchback is a completely fresh car built on an all-new platform with a fresh design and a very upmarket and feature-rich interior.
Peugeot seems to have adopted the ‘less is more’ principle with the new 308 and in fairness it works. The car is shorter, lower and lighter than its predecessor. It is far less cluttered both inside and out and exudes a somewhat premium quality.
The weight loss is mainly down to the introduction of numerous lightweight components including a tailgate formed from composite theromplastic, which is a world first.
However, the reduction in length and height has not affected the interior space and back seat passengers can enjoy ample leg, head and shoulder space. The boot also offers a class-leading capacity of 470 litres with a wide opening and low loading sill for ease of use.
The 308, went on sale in the UK at the beginning of January, is priced from £14,495 to £24,045 with a choice of four trim levels – Access, Active, Allure and Feline.
At launch, buyers can select from a range of 1.2 and 1.6-litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel models with a choice of gearboxes. These will be followed by additional ultra-economical engines which are due for release next year.
One of the main irritants of Peugeots in the past has been the company’s need to over-complicate the technology within the car. There always seemed to be an array of buttons and drop-down menus that make programming an old video recorder seem simple. But that’s not the case with the 308 which boasts the new i-Cockpit.
This consists of the compact steering wheel for improved handling, a 9.7-inch colour touchscreen and a high centre console. There is a virtual absence of buttons but all the technology and creature comforts we expect to find in a car these days are still present.
Peugeot believes the 308 will appeal to both business and family driver with the fleet market accounting for 60 per cent of sales thanks to the car’s impressive economy statistics.
One of the most fuel efficient models available at launch is the 1.6 HDi 92. So that’s the model in mid-range Active trim that we tested out on a lengthy road route incorporating motorways, dual carriageways, country lanes and congested town centres.
The test car was powered by a 1.6-litre diesel driven engine delivering 92bhp and 230Nm of torque. Peugeot claims it can achieve combined fuel economy of 74.3mpg and 99g/km of carbon emissions, making it very attractive to business drivers.
With its excellent economy stats, the 308 was never going to be the Usain Bolt of the segment but it can still notch up a creditable 0-62mph sprint time of 11.3 seconds with a top speed of 113mph.
This particular model featured a five speed manual gearbox which was smooth and responsive with ample power on tap when needed.
There was a little wind noise and the usual murmurings from a diesel engine, but neither were particularly loud.
Thanks to its lower, shorter and slightly wider stance, the new 308 has a more grounded and athletic stance which has improved the car’s handling. The result is corners can be attacked with more confidence and the driving dynamics are agile and effortless.
And industry analyst CAP is predicting the 308 will have among the highest residual values in its segment which is another bonus for fleet managers driven by ever-decreasing budgets.