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Peugeot 308: Test Drive Review

Date: 30 September 2013   |   Author: David Motton

Category: Lower medium
P11D Price: £19,500 (est.)
Key rival: Volkswagen Golf
On sale: January 2014

The name may be the same, but Peugeot promises everything else about the new 308 hatchback is very different. The new car is lighter and more efficient than its predecessor, with emissions low enough to make serious inroads to the fleet market.

Although the car goes on sale in France this month, right-hand drive cars won't arrive in the UK until January. Initially the key models for the fleet market will be the 1.6 e-HDi diesels, with 92hp or 115hp.

Both versions post some very impressive economy and CO2 figures, helped by being 140kg lighter than the old 308. The 92hp car returns 78.4mpg on the combined cycle and emits 93g/km of carbon dioxide when fitted with ultra low-rolling resistance tyres, putting the car in the 13% benefit-in-kind tax bracket.

The more powerful car's numbers are only slightly worse, with an official combined figure of 76.3mpg and 95g/km of CO2. That puts it in the 14% BIK band.

Both engines are smooth and refined, pulling cleanly from low revs. However, the 92hp engine has a vague and clunky five-speed gearbox. The more powerful car's six-speed shifts more cleanly and the extra performance is worth having unless the lowest possible emissions are top priority.

New engines meeting the Euro6 emissions standards arrive in the spring. The Blue HDi engines use a catalyst and diesel particulate filter to eliminate 90% of NOx and 99.9% of diesel particulate emissions before they leave the exhaust. CO2 emissions will also fall, with the 120hp version achieving the most tax-efficient numbers: 82g/km and combined economy of 91.1mpg beat even the Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion, and equals its lowly 13% BIK banding.

The petrol line-up will also be updated with Euro6 versions next spring, and a six-speed automatic gearbox will become available too.

Tax-efficient engines are matched to an improved driving experience. It may not equal the poise of a Golf or Ford Focus, but the 308 grips well and rides comfortably. Versions with 16-inch alloys are noticeably more supple than those riding on 18-inch wheels.

Inside, the cabin finish feels more upmarket than before. By using a 9.7-inch touchscreen, Peugeot's designers have created an uncluttered and elegant dashboard, although it's not as easy to quickly adjust the cabin temperature as it would be in a car with more conventional controls.

Those in the front have plenty of space, but legroom is tight in the rear. However, Peugeot argues the 308 will appeal more to couples than families, who will happily trade some passenger space for the large 470-litre luggage capacity.

Prices and exact specification levels will be confirmed closer to the car's on-sale date, although expect four trim levels (Access, Active, Allure and Feline). Likewise, it's a case of 'watch this space' for RVs and whole-life costs, although an increase in service intervals from 12,500 to 16,000 miles for the diesels bodes well. Peugeot also promises fewer cars will go out to the daily rental fleets, which should help improve resale values.

Peugeot 308 1.6 e-HDI 115bhp Active
P11D price £19,500*
Model price range £15,000-£23,000*
Fuel consumption 76.3mpg
CO2 (tax) 95g/km (14%)
BIK 20/40% per month £46/£91*
Service interval 16,000mls
Insurance group 16*
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space min/max 470/1309 litres
Engine size/power 1560cc/115bhp
Top speed/0-62mph 121mph/10.2sec
On sale January 2014
* = estimated.


Quality is up, but it's the tax-efficient engines that really appeal.