2012 PEUGEOT 308 REVIEW
What’s Hot: Torque-laden diesel, solid on-road handling.
What’s Not: Updates don't go far enough, glovebox is still virtually useless.
X-Factor: New bodystyling will be welcomed - especially the schnozz - but still has that individual French flair.
Vehicle Style: Small five-door hatchback
Price: $32,990 (plus on-road costs), $35,240 as-tested
Fuel Economy (claimed): 6.1 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 7.1 l/100km
Peugeot’s 308 hatch sports a new look and new equipment for 2012. The powertrain line-up has also been tweaked for more efficiency, but it's the cosmetics that have come in for most attention.
The front bumper has been re-styled and now carries LED daytime running lamps. The tailgate also gets some extra silver trim accents, and there are new alloy wheels across the range.
This one, the 308 HDi diesel, has always been a good drive and reasonable value. It’s lined up against the Golf 103TDI, Mazda3 diesel and Focus Trend 2.0DT; the question is, can it still cut the mustard against such tough competition?
Quality: Aside from changes to trim materials, it’s familiar 308 fare in here - which is not a bad thing. Chrome-ringed dials and a soft-touch dash give the 308’s cabin a classy look, but switchgear quality could be improved.
Comfort: The front seats are supportive with nicely sculpted cushions; the rear seats are also comfortable. The 308’s high roof means headroom isn’t a problem, but legroom isn’t terribly generous in the back.
Annoyingly, Peugeot has persisted with housing the cruise and audio controls on stalks mounted behind the steering wheel, out of sight. Over time you’ll get used to operating them by touch alone, but learning their functions isn’t exactly easy.
Equipment: Standard features on the mid-grade 308 Active include 16-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, LED daytime running lamps, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, cruise control, a trip computer, dual-zone climate control, a speed limiter, an auto-dimming rear view mirror and reverse parking sensors.
The stereo system features Bluetooth telephony and USB connectivity, and our test car was also equipped with the optional ($2250) sat-nav system.
Storage: Luggage space measures in at a generous 460 litres with the rear seats up, and 1398 litres with the rear seats folded.
Storage bins are fitted to each door and the centre console box is deep, but the glovebox is miniscule by comparison - an annoyingly familiar Peugeot trait.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The 308’s 2.0 litre turbodiesel is smooth, relatively quiet and quite punchy. Putting out a healthy 120kW and 340Nm, there’s adequate grunt to deal with the daily grind and it’s quite quick on road.
The diesel gets a bit breathless from 3800rpm onward, like most diesels, but it’s strongest at lower revs (and rarely will you need to peg the tachometer so high).
The optional (add $2000) six-speed automatic - a six-speed manual is standard on the Active - is fine for general driving and around town, but don’t bother using its manual mode.
Manually-activated shifts are too slow; the gearbox performs at its best when left in “D”.
Refinement: Like most in the new generation of diesels, it’s quiet at the wheel. Noise from the outside is also well suppressed although there’s some tyre roar on coarse bitumen.
Wind noise is low at highway speeds, although there is a bit of fluttering at the wing mirrors.
Suspension: The ride is perhaps a little too firm for Australian roads; the 308 tends to fidget a little over corrugations and small bumps.
Handling though is good; there is a bit of French elan at the wheel. Were it not for the dull steering feedback and unexciting automatic gearbox, the 308 could be quite fun to drive on a winding road.
Braking: The 308’s all-disc brake set-up, combined with ABS and other systems, performs strongly.
ANCAP rating: 5 Stars
Safety features: As standard, the 308 hatch gets stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD and brake assist.
Passengers are protected by six airbags (front, front-side and curtain), and all seats are equipped with three-point seatbelts.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three year/100,000km vehicle warranty.
Service costs: Under Peugeot’s Assured Service program, the first three services are capped at $330. Service intervals occur every 12 months/20,000km.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY:
Volkswagen Golf 103 TDI Comfortline ($34,490) - Not only does the Golf manage to undercut the 308 (with automatic) on price, but its interior style and intelligently laid-out cabin trumps the Peugeot.
Also, the Golf’s standard DSG twin-clutch automatic is arguably the superior transmission. (see Golf reviews)
Mazda3 Diesel Hatch ($27,360): The Mazda3 diesel’s engine monsters the competition with its 360Nm torque output. However, as it’s a manual-only proposition it’s appeal is limited in this market where autos are favoured.
Then again, at $27,360 it’s hard to ignore. (see Mazda3 reviews)
Ford Focus Trend Powershift 2.0DT Hatch ($30,500) - Ford’s all-new Focus Trend diesel hatch with Powershift twin-clutch auto is an impressive performer, and very good buying value.
Power and torque outputs of 120kW and 340Nm equal those of the Peugeot. The Focus is also better equipped with satellite navigation as standard-issue. (see Focus reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Peugeot’s 308 HDi hatch auto doesn’t quite hit the mark for a $35k-plus small car. While it drives well, it’s starting to look a little dated, especially so when seen side-by-side on the showroom floor with the thoroughly modern 508.
The cosmetic enhancements give it some contemporary flair (those LED daytime running lamps really are the flavour du jour), but, in our opinion, it is now left behind by the better value Focus and Golf.