Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good Arrived Down Under in early 2008 wearing sleeker lines than the previous Peugeot small family hatch (the 307). We like the ‘cat’s eye’s’ headlight design and the large gaping lower grille ensures the 308 is unmistakably a Peugeot (a styling trait of the French brand over the last decade).
Not so good The sloping pointy bonnet in front of a relatively tall body design with deep side windows doesn’t fully gel in the eyes of some of our reviewer’s – a sporty front on an almost compact People Mover looking body?!. However in Peugeot’s defense the design contributes to an excellent open and airy cabin.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good Classy cabin ambience, the dashboard plastics are a big leap forward over the predecessor 307 and the fit AND finish looks and feels on the money. The top level XTE grade features a huge panoramic glass roof. Comfortable, supportive driver’s seat and a steering wheel that adjusts for both reach and rake. Lots of storage compartments in the front row – a chilled glovebox, centre storage bin, door bins and even slide out storage drawers under the front passenger seat. Decent levels of legroom for second row passengers who also benefit from cupholders in the rear centre armrest. Large boot (over 400 litres) grows to almost 1,400 litres when the rear (split fold) bench is folded down flat.
Not so good Chilled glovebox is too small; front cupholders don’t hold drinks well enough; rear vision is only average – luckily parking sensors are on offer.
Performance

Performance

Good A wide choice of engines on offer (Two diesel, three petrol). We think the pick of the bunch are the 110kW 1.6L petrol turbo and the 100kW 2.0L Diesel. This petrol engine might be only 1.6L but thanks to the turbo it doesn’t feel underpowered, the drawcard here is that maximum engine torque (pulling power) is available from low in the rev range (1400rpm!). The 2.0L Diesel is refined, quiet and like all good turbo diesel’s, offers oodles of mid range oomph = an excellent choice for day to day driving.
Not so good The entry level engine (a naturally aspirated 1.6L petrol four cylinder) is by no means quick as the 308 is a heavier vehicle than the previous 307. The 308’s manual gearbox’s (both 5 and 6 speed) should be slicker and more enjoyable to use.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good A good overall balance between ride and handling - the 308 stays refined over a wide variety of road surfaces. Steering (a hydraulic-electric system) is nice and light (which should suit the target market). Cabin road noise is also kept to a minimum.
Not so good The 308’s handling capabilities are a notch below the very sharpest competitors in the small family car segment (i.e. Mazda3); blame the amount of bodyroll on offer when cornering (however for 95% of small car shoppers this should not be a reason to look elsewhere).
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good Ticks the safety box with six airbags, Anti-lock brakes (ABS) and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) standard across all grades. Not surprisingly the 308 achieves an excellent safety rating in independent crash testing. The three grade levels of trim (XS, XSE & XTE) also all come standard with a tyre pressure indicator and should you ever need to change a wheel, it’s nice to know the spare is a proper full size (not a temporary ‘space saver’). Fuel economy from the various engines on offer ranges from very good to superb (no gas guzzler’s to worry about here).
Not so good Electric Stability Control is an option on the entry level XS grade and whilst a driver’s knee airbag is available as a low cost option, we wish it was standard equipment. Not surprisingly (considering it’s manufactured in France) the 308 is significantly more expensive than a number of impressive Asian offerings.