Our Fleet Test Drive: Peugeot 308 - Final Report
17 October 2008
Author: Hugh Hunston
After six months and nearly 5600 miles in our company the dependable, well-rounded and cost-conscious gunmetal grey Peugeot 308 hatchback is gone.
Technically and functionally our five-door SE marked a more significant advance over its 307 predecessor while providing the kind of practical room for people  and belongings  that eclipses some models nominally one category above.
Particularly strong 308 personality traits include seamless rather than barnstorming performance allied to consistently low fuel consumption, plus gadgets and gizmos that enhance rather than hinder the driving experience.
The outstanding 110PS 1.6-litre diesel delivers strong performance - enough to impersonate a 2.0-litre unit - while generating a 54mpg average with peaks approaching 60mpg. CO2 comes in at 129g/km.
The trend of sophisticated equipment cascading down from the higher model classes means that satnav, cruise control, sensor-operated lights, wipers and parking guidance are assimilated into this mainstream family hatch.
None of the electronically assisted devices faltered and in most cases the hefty 223-page handbook was not needed to master their operation. Limited success with the voice activation system is probably down to it struggling with a gruff Scottish accent.
The 308's driving characteristics are competent rather than class-leading with a tendency to thump and bump about on uneven urban surfaces. Comparison with direct rivals emphasises relatively heavy steering at lower speeds.
Braking is particularly effective with the right amount of feel and loading, and automatic emergency braking activation of rear hazard lights avoided at least one major tailgating incident. Curiously, Peugeot does not provide standard ESP across all the 308 range unlike the Ford Focus and VW Golf.
Having covered a couple of hundred miles recently in a 308 estate an extra sixth gear made little difference, apart from knocking 500rpm off the 70mph cruising engine speed. The gearchange was also less slick.
The wagon was slightly less ungainly in appearance, too, but neither model will win aesthetics awards . Peugeot's 308 is about business-like substance, not visual appeal, although these dual merits shouldn't necessarily be mutually exclusive.