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The Top Gear car review:Peugeot 308
For:A fine upgrade on the old 308, looks and feels comfortable with flashes of premium quality
Against:Not the most dynamic car in this class, some plastics a little scratchy
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What we say:
This is the best family hatch Peugeot has ever made. Smooth, refined, and most importantly, comfortable
What is it?
This is the replacement for the, um, Peugeot 308. It’s not called the 309 because of a need to breed familiarity with the ‘08’ nomenclature, and going forwards, all Peugeot models will end in ‘08’. It’s also not called the 309 because Peugeot already did that car in 1985. So this is the all new Peugeot 308, on an all-new platform, with an all-new interior and a whole new fight on its hands.
It sits on the same ‘Efficient Modular Platform 2’ (EMP2) as the Citroen C4 Picasso, and is 140kg lighter than the old 308 on average. It’s also lower and wider than before, with a slightly longer wheelbase. That translates into a car that rides supremely well. This new 308 is really very comfortable, cossetting, and refined. The NVH has been suitably buttoned down, it doesn’t bob and weave around on the road, and it remains settled.
But the trade-off comes when you actively want to get it out of shape; there’s noticeable body roll in tight cornering and the steering isn’t as communicative as, say, a Ford Focus’. The 155bhp petrol is a punchy, accessible unit, while the 1.6-litre 115bhp diesel shows some decent refinement too. And that’s the theme here. Comfort.
On the inside
Ooh, here’s where it gets interesting. Sure, the boot is huge (at the expense of some rear legroom), but the big news is how Peugeot has binned practically all the buttonry from the last 308’s centre console, and in its place fitted a 9.7in touchscreen which handles everything you will need: air-con, sat nav, media and so forth. It’s a little fiddly to get used to, but familiarity breeds efficiency, and it adds a welcome dash of ‘posh’ to the interior ambience.
Same goes with the dials (the rev counter revs counter-clockwise which is cool), though there’s an area just below the centre console that’s a bit scratchy. Puts a tiny dent in the overall feeling of premium Peugeot has mostly captured. Overall though, a great package – even the ultra-small steering wheel concept (view the dials above it, not through it) somehow seems to work better here than in the 208.
The base model is a smidge less than £15,000, and around £3k cheaper than a base 1.2-litre VW Golf, so it’s good value to kick off with. There’s a 92bhp 1.6-litre diesel that returns a claimed 78.5mpg while emitting just 95g/km of CO2 (to make it road tax exempt). Another version of this engine returns 91.1mpg and gives off just 82g/km of CO2. Witchcraft. Peugeot packs in plenty of kit for the money too, with the top-spec Feline even offering niceties such as massaging seats.