Exterior grows up
The design shows a new maturity for the brand with a conservative exterior. The front-end gets a chrome grille, daytime running lights in the bumper and unique front lights. The rear features LED lights and a black apron to create a contrast, while from the side, the 308 strikes a fairly simple hatch silhouette.
Overall, the 308 looks a bit vanilla for me. However, the Golf is also quite a plain car, yet it pulls it off better, somehow. The GT Line treatment sorts out the exterior a bit though with larger 17-inch wheels, full LED headlights and twin exhaust tailpipes.
Inside: Less is more
The interior is where the new 308 really comes into its own. From an ergonomic perspective it is brilliant with almost no buttons to speak of, while most functions can be completed from either the touchscreen infotainment system, or around the steering wheel.
As with the 208, you get a tiny steering wheel, which feels great while driving but does take time to adjust to. The instrument panel is above the steering wheel, which the brand claims prevents you from looking down while driving. The quality inside - and while you’re on the move - is excellent with tangible materials being soft to the touch and very low levels of road and wind noise penetrating the cabin.
Peppy power plants
The engine in question is a gem; a little 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder, which the company recently developed in-house. In the 308 Active, which will be the entry level into the range, you’ll get 81kW/205Nm and a five-speed manual gearbox, while the GT Line version gets 96kW/240Nm and a six-speed gearbox.
At the launch, I only had a chance to drive the GT Line and I can confirm that the engine is seriously impressive. Its torque band is available from low down in the rev range and it pulls well into the upper echelons while sipping on fuel with me achieving around 5.5 litres/100km (4.5 litres/100km claimed) during the test drive.
Platform for success
Much like its Golf rival with the MQB, the new 308 makes use of a flexible Efficient Modular Platform 2 (EMP2), which as we’ve seen with the likes of VW/Audi, can produce a number of cars while keeping costs down, providing lower weight and a solid chassis.
Each model comes with a decent amount of kit as standard such as electric mirrors/windows, a 9.7-inch touchscreen infotainment display, air conditioning, a six-speaker sound system, USB, auxiliary jack and Bluetooth, cruise control system with speed limiter function and hill start assistance.
The GT Line gets additional features such as full LED headlights, a sportier grille and twin tailpipes, as well as larger alloy wheels.
While both models offer a comprehensive array of standard equipment, the GT Line gains an extended features list, together with enhanced trim levels. However, the 9.7-inch touchscreen display is standard on both variants.
Peace of mind
If, like me, you question the lack of dealerships in the Peugeot group locally, in which to drive a 308 or even service one, however, the brand addressed this at the launch. They will bring a 308 to your house or office for you to drive and the sales person will also provide an evaluation on your current car.
The 308 goes on sale at the end of March and is supported by a three-year/100 000km manufacturer’s warranty and a five-year 60 000km premium plan service plan.
Peugeot 308 1.2 PureTech Active R275 900
Peugeot 308 1.2 PureTech GT Line R329 900