The Peugeot 308 is a compact hatchback or station wagon first revealed in 2007. Foremost, the Peugeot 308 was aimed at the European market, which extended to select regions in Asia, Russia, and South America.
A significant market for the 308 is China, where it is sold as a compact sedan, a body style dropped in Europe due to weak sales performance and overlap with the Peugeot 508.
Before the Peugeot 308, each generation had an incremental digit increase, meaning that the first-ever Peugeot 300-series was the Peugeot 301. There are two deviations from the rule, once with the Peugeot 303, which doesn’t exist, and the current 308, which had three versions.
Peugeot 308 Overview
The Peugeot 308 won the “European Car of the Year” once in 2014, beating the BMW i3 and the Tesla Model S, and was nominated for the “Car of the Year” both in the 2014 model year and the following model year. Considering the balanced demeanor, attractive styling, and copious practicality, this comes to little surprise.
The first-ever 308 wasn’t an eye-catcher for most, featuring a forced teardrop shape that made it look somewhat bulbous. However, it was done with purpose, allowing the 308 to achieve a spectacular drag coefficient of 0.29. Consequently, it received good fuel economy on the highway, something deeply desired by many buyers.
The second generation was significantly more appealing, with sleeker lines, aggressive styling, and pleasant angles, worthy of a car built even today. The headlights showcase an interesting design cue, somewhat like the previous-generation Subaru WRX, which blends wonderfully with the low-profile front-end design. This generation of 308 also received a GTI variant, as a rival to the Volkswagen Golf GTI and the Honda Civic Type R, with the performance and stylistic traits to boot. Overall, the second-gen model was considered by many to be sleek.
The third-generation model was developed in conjunction with the Stellantis conglomerate, formed by the merger of PSA and FCA. The current model showcases even stronger design choices, with a completely unique headlight design and elegant taillight aspect. Some may find Peugeot’s current styling bordering extreme, but that’s why Stellantis also sells two sister models, the Citroën DS 4 and the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, which share the platform and engine choice.
Currently, the Peugeot 308 has a decent number of engines and choices at hand, like a small turbocharged 1.2-liter in-line three, a turbocharged 1.6-liter in-line four as a hybrid powertrain, and a European-centered 1.5-liter turbodiesel in-line four. They are linked either to a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic. Power is adequate; 130 horsepower with the in-line three or the turbodiesel, and 180 horsepower for the hybrid powertrain. However, bear in mind that the base model 308 starts at 110 horsepower for the in-line three.
Moreover, the current Peugeot 308 also announced a full-electric variant, dubbed the Peugeot e-308, which will release sometime in 2023. The Peugeot e-308 will feature a permanent magnet synchronous motor with an output of 154 horsepower and a 50-kWh battery capacity, resulting in an average range of 240 miles.
No GTI or Peugeot Sports Engineering version has been announced now. However, a GT trim level can be found in their current roster.
Drivability and Performance
By revitalizing the EMP2 platform, the Peugeot 308 is lively and responsive, willing to go wherever you point the wheels. This is even more impressive seeing how most of the engine options offer a hybrid powertrain that increases the weight by over 600 pounds. Nevertheless, this added weight is also a significant problem when driven aggressively, with the car showcasing plenty of body roll and pitch. These aren’t an issue on the non-hybrid powertrain, resulting in the endorsed demeanor that people like about the Peugeot 308.
The 308 is brisk considering the markets, regardless of engine choice. However, the 1.2-liter in-line three might struggle a bit regarding torque and getting off the line. Traction is great, but you can expect understeer if pushed hard, like any other front-wheel-drive car for that matter. Notwithstanding, the hybrid powertrain sometimes struggles to correctly choose when to use the engine or electric motor. When driven hard and unless you don’t get into a specific driving mode, the car will automatically disengage the engine when letting off the gas pedal, not allowing you to engine brake properly. This will translate into a real headache when driving on country roads.
On longer roads, the 308 is comfortable and supple while remaining quiet and unintrusive. This results in a pleasurable car for vacations and general commuting.
Peugeot 308 Final Thoughts
The Peugeot 308 is a decent package all things considered. You are getting a fair bit of luxury for the price and a styling that will stand the test of time. The car doesn’t have that many faults, which resulted in its “Car of the Year” nomination. Moreover, the engines are decently reliable, tying up the Peugeot 308 in a complete package.
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Photos courtesy of Stellantis. All rights reserved.