By EWAN KENNEDY in Sochaux, France.                 

There’s arguably no more important award in the automotive world than that of the European Car of the Year.

The reigning champion is the all-new Peugeot 308; making this announcement at the Geneva Motor Show in March this year, the Euro COTY Jury members said they were particularly impressed by the engineering of the midsize French car. Its styling also received several mentions.

Australian Peugeot enthusiasts have been aware of the new 308’s award for six months, but have been denied the opportunity to see it in the metal as the factory was struggling to keep up with demand.


Several versions of the new 308 will be launched downunder in late October, with others coming in March 2015. The Peugeot importer invited a small group of Aussie journalists to France to visit the Sochaux factory where the car is being built. We also had an opportunity to talk to the 308’s stylists and engineers.

We test drove a variety of new Peugeot 308s on a grand tour covering over 1500 kilometres on a scenic route that took us south to St Tropez, up through scenic mountains, into Switzerland and finally to the Peugeot factory in Sochaux. It’s a tough life!

Styling is always the first thing that comes to mind when talking about any French car. While the Peugeot 308 has its share of French flair it doesn’t take as radical a route as do its chief competitor Renault, or Peugeot’s cousin Citroen. This is a deliberate move as Peugeots are aimed at a slightly more conservative buyer.


The front of the 308 follows a similar theme to its smaller brother Peugeot 208. The main grille is neat and tidy and flows well out to the headlights and back to the sculpted bonnet. The large lower grille ties nicely into foglights that are framed by the daytime running lights (DRLs).

New 308’s profile is lower than that of the outgoing model. The previous one, code named T7, used a semi-tall design to maximise interior room, however not everyone liked that theme. The new T9 308 is sleeker, yet clever design means it has retained the same cabin space.

Prominent swage lines flow from just being the front wheels to the taillights. These lights follow the present Peugeot practice of flowing forward at their upper and lower edges.

Peugeot 308‘s 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 rump follows a similar shape to the hatches, it works nicely and its extended load area would make it our choice should we be buying a 308. Both fashion and function – we like that.

The interior is brilliant in its flair. The main instrument housing and the centre stack follow the same semi-oval appearance and are neatly framed with a metallic look.

Exhaustive design work means the new Peugeot 308 is lighter than the outgoing model by as much as 140 kilograms, not only making it more dynamic on the road but, just as importantly, it uses less fuel and creates less pollution.

New engines have been developed to further reduce emissions. The most interesting is a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, turbo-petrol unit producing 96 kW of power and an impressive 230 Nm of power. A turbo-diesel displacing 2.0 litres is a four-cylinder and puts out 110 kW and 370 Nm.

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

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

We loved the little three-cylinder 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 like all small lightweight engines the Peugeot powerplant is happy to go all the way up the redline.

The diesel has good performance and feels and sounds more petrol than oil burner making light work of hills and loping along easily at 130 km/h all day.

Ride comfort is very Peugeot, soft and easy. This is achieved without compromising dynamic 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 if find the wheel / instrument view is just right. Some may find the wheel interferes with the view of the instruments, so try for yourself when you do your personal test drive of the 308.

Peugeot hasn’t done as well as it should in Australia in recent years, but the all-new 308 really should get things moving again.

The big players in Peugeot 308‘s market segment in Australia are the Japanese Toyota Corolla and Mazda3, and the European Volkswagen Golf. Anyone considering these should most certainly add the Peugeot 308 to their short list – and may well come away with a smile on their face and a stylish French car in their garage.

Prices for the 2014 Peugeot 308 models are as follows:
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.

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.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *