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The Top Gear car review:Peugeot 308
For: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 comfortable
What is it?
The smartly styled 308 marks a real step-on for Peugeot. Forget the dreary old model of the same name, this latest one boasts an all-new platform, all-new interior and all-new fight on its hands. Whereas the old one was firmly an also-ran, this one very much takes the fight to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
The latest 308 is 140kg lighter than the old one, is lower and wider than before, and has a slightly longer wheelbase. That translates into a car that rides supremely well. This 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.
Yes, even in the warm GT models, offering either a 202bhp petrol or 178bhp diesel. Like the regular models, they drive very well, but never really thrill.
On the inside
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 over £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.