Our Fleet Test Drive: Peugeot 308 - 3rd Report
03 July 2008
Author: Hugh Hunston
 Door mirrors tuck themselves in when the car is locked
Nearly 3000 miles into our journey with the lower medium Peugeot 308 and the French hatchback is reassuringly dependable, economical and comfortable, if a tad uninspiring.
This lack of reliability worries or things breaking help to justify residuals that are nominally 6% higher than the departed, smaller and less sophisticated 307.
The 308's exterior looks, particularly its bulbous domed rear, are never going to turn heads and at first, even second, sight it appears to be a scaled up supermini 207, which must be a turn off for user-choosers looking for a bit of lower medium style.
Our choice of the sober graphite body colour does not help.
Longer-term relationships with cars throw up everyday niggles, which in this case include the 308's limited hatchback loading aperture caused by a thick boot ridge and low hatch cover .
The cheap-looking chrome finish handbrake release button is uncomfortably close when the car is in second gear, too , and the levers are fiddly for adjusting tilt on the front seats. Also, the steering wheel-mounted sound system volume control is sometimes unwilling to turn up the decibels.
Perhaps it is testimony to the 308's overall competence, however, that these irritating foibles are so minor in an otherwise eminently functional car. Particularly useful in narrow village streets are the door mirrors, which tuck themselves in when the car is locked .
As a driving proposition the 308 may lack the poise and sharpness of Ford's Focus or the Honda Civic, but once you're used to the loaded steering feel it can be hustled along with minimal effort and is outstandingly quiet at motorway cruising speeds. Less impressive is the low-speed ride; our Peugeot is literally caught on the hop on our increasingly patch-worked urban roads, where even small potholes generate a choppy thump and bump ride.
Despite the lack of a sixth gear, now a £400 option but not available from launch, 57mpg is attainable in varied everyday conditions, although our overall tally has slipped to 52.4mpg, 3mpg shy of the computer's optimistic accumulated figure.
Split the difference and the 308's 13-gallon tank offers an attainable and impressive 700-mile range.
Strangely, Peugeot's official data claims the sixth gear results in nearly five fewer miles covered every gallon, even when the top ratio knocks 500 revs off the engine speed at 70mph. It also only cuts the CO2 output by one solitary gramme.