Peugeot 308 is an all-new model from the giant French car maker. Launched in Europe in 2013, and taking out the 2013 Car of the Year award in that continent, it finally reached us downunder in October this year. It looks good, drives well and is reasonably priced.

Peugeot Australia is under a new management regime and they say the aim is to use the 308 as their main weapon to take back the ground it has lost in recent years. Hint, if you get in early there may be some good deals if you really push hard for them. Companies with big ambitions are often willing to spend big money to achieve them. No promises, though…

Exhaustive design work means the all-new 308 is lighter than the outgoing model by as much as 140 kilograms. This not only makes the latest 308 more dynamic on the road, but also means it uses less fuel and minimises air pollution.


New Peugeot 308’s profile is lower than that of the outgoing model. The previous one used a relatively tall design to maximise interior room. While the new 308 is lower and sleeker, clever design means it has retained the same cabin space.

Although the Peugeot 308 has plenty of French flair it doesn’t take as radical a route as do Renault or Citroen. This makes sense as Peugeots are aimed at relatively conservative buyers.

The 308s upper grille has neat lines in the new Peugeot theme. It flows out to the headlights and back to the sculpted bonnet. The large lower grille ties into foglights that are framed by the daytime running lights.

Prominent swage lines flow from just being the front wheels to the taillights. These lights flow forward at their upper and lower edges. The rear is particularly neat and definitely benefits from the lower roofline.


New Peugeot 308 is offered as a five-door hatch and five-door Touring wagon. The wagon’s rear follows a similar shape to that of the hatches, indeed it could be mistaken for an extended hatch, not a wagon. Obviously, the station wagon has more luggage space and we can see it being a big seller.

The main instrument housing and the centre stack follow the same semi-oval appearance and are neatly framed with a metallic-look material.

New engines have been developed for the 308, emission reduction and fuel economy were major factors in the design process. The most interesting is a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, turbo-petrol unit producing 96 kW of power and an impressive 230 Nm of torque. A turbo-diesel of 2.0-litre capacity is a four-cylinder unit that puts out 110 kW and 370 Nm. We were able to test both powerplants over a two-week period and find it hard to choose between them.

Six-speed manual or automatic transmissions sit beside each of the engines.

Additional engines, and variants of the units described above, will be added to the range in March 2015. We will report on them when they reach us.

The all-new body and a plethora of inbuilt safety features means the new Peugeot 308 had no trouble in getting a five-star safety rating.

However we feel that driver inattention may be created by the absence of many buttons on the dashboard. Unless you want to turn windscreen demisters on or off, or get recalculated air inside the cabin, you need to use the central touchscreen. The menus and sub-menus are easy to use, but there’s plenty of empty space on the upper areas of the console for the fitment of buttons.

Buttons that let us change radio stations, alter the fan and temperature settlings, and so on, without us having to take our eyes off the road.

Ride comfort is very Peugeot, very French, in being soft and easy. Yet there’s no compromise in the 308’s handling characteristics. The all-new platform gives the body impressive rigidity and you get the feeling you’re travelling in a car a full size up in sophistication.

Steering is nicely weighted and we really like the tiny steering wheel. Personally I find the wheel / instrument view is just right. Some may find the wheel interferes with the view of the instruments, so try for yourself during your private test drive.

We loved the little three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine for its eager characteristics, it has minimal turbo lag and once it’s up it provides virtually instantaneous acceleration. Torque is already at its maximum at 1750 revs and the 1.2 is more than happy to go all the way to the redline. Though it must be admitted that the redline is there to please the keen driver – the torque of this powerplant means you don’t need to run it way up to the big numbers.

The diesel starts almost instantly and feels and sounds more petrol than diesel. It makes light work of hills and lopes along easily at 130 km/h for hours on end. (That was in France where we did our initial testing of the Peugeot 308 a few weeks back. In Australia the laws of automotive physics are different, so we should warn you that if you exceed 110 km/h in this country you may crash and die at any moment.)

Peugeot hasn’t done as well as it should in Australia in recent years, but the all-new 308 is an excellent example of modern automotive engineering and should get sales up and running again.


308 Access 1.2-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $21,990 (manual), $23,990 (automatic)
308 Active 1.2-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $27,340 (automatic)
308 Allure 1.2-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $30,490 (automatic)
308 Allure Blue HDi 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door hatch: $34,790 (automatic)
308 Allure Blue HDi Touring 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $37,490 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer charges. Contact your local Peugeot dealer for driveaway pricing.

ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: $2000 option in Access, standard in all other models
Cruise Control: Standard in all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models
Rear Parking Sensors: Not offered in Access, standard in all other models
Reversing Camera: Not offered
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard in all models
Bluetooth: Standard in all models
Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard in all models

SPECIFICATIONS (Peugeot 308 Access 1.2-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch)

Capacity: 1.199 litres
Configuration: Three cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: Not supplied
Bore/Stroke: 75.0 mm x 90.5 mm
Maximum Power: 96 kW @ 5500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 230 Nm @ 1750 rpm

Driven Wheels: Front
Manual Transmission: Six-speed
Automatic Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive Ratio: Not supplied

Length: 4253 mm
Wheelbase: 2620 mm
Width: 1804 mm
Height: 1457 mm
Turning Circle: Not supplied
Kerb Mass: 1090 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 53 litres
Towing Ability: 1300 kg with braked trailer
Boot Capacity: 435 litres (1274 litres with rear seatbacks folded)

Front Suspension: Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension: Semi-independent torsion beam, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Disc

0-100 km/h Acceleration: 9.6 seconds

Type: Petrol 95RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 4.6 L/100km

Greenhouse Rating: 8.5/10
Air Pollution Rating: 8.5/10

Three years/100,000 km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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