Peugeot keeps on the push upmarket with new 308
First Drive in eastern France
Overall, on the evidence of a first drive in eastern France, near the Swiss-German border, Peugeot shows itself to be continuing a process started some years ago with the 508, 208 and, most recently, the new 2008.
The 308, which will provide competition for rivals like the Golf and Ford Focus, has a more sleek appearance than its predecessor, thanks to revised aerodynamic design and better proportions.
It will reach showrooms here in December and come in varying spec levels – with a big range of new petrol and BlueHDi diesel engines. Emissions are as low as 82g/km with claimed consumption of 3.1l/100km – or 90-plus mpg.
Pricing is not being announced until December but you can expect an entry level tag from about the €19,000 mark.
The engine line-up includes (all manual): 1.2 litre petrol VTi 82bhp 114g/km CO2 5-sp; 1.6 litre petrol THP 125bhp 129g/km CO2 6-sp; 1.6 litre petrol THP 155bhp 129g/km CO2 6-sp; 1.6 litre HDi diesel 92bhp 93g/km CO2 5-sp; and a 1.6 litre HDi diesel 115bhp 95g/km CO2 6-sp.
From next spring, there will be new Euro 6 engines including derivatives of the 1.2 petrol: 1.2 litre eTHP 110bhp 5-sp and 1.2 litre eTHP 130bhp 6-sp both manual, with a 1.2 litre eTHP 130bhp 6-sp automatic.
The diesels will include: 1.6 litre 120bhp 82g/km CO2 6-sp; 2.0 litre 150bhp 6-sp; with an automatic 2.0 litre 150bhp 6-sp.
The new automatic gearboxes, says Peugeot, guarantee rapid gear changes and improved economy – the difference in terms of emissions of CO2, compared to a manual gearbox, is now less than 10g/km, it claims. It expects the 308 to appeal mainly to couples: young families and empty-nesters. Diesel will account for 85pc of sales.
The claimed improved efficiency is in large part due to weight reduction compared to its predecessor.
For example, the front wings and bonnet are constructed in aluminium, while the tailgate is formed using Thermoplastic, a light and rigid composite material.
The centre of gravity of the car has been lowered by 20mm, tangibly improving stability while the compact steering wheel (like it or loathe it), high performance tyres and brakes, Peugeot suspension and ride, in the 1.6 e-HDi 115bhp version tested, gave me impressive and comfortable handling.
The cabin is roomy with 1412mm of elbow room; there's a low loading sill for the 470-litre boot (up to 1309 litres when the rear seats are folded).
Inside, the innovative i-Cockpit is exceptionally quiet, well laid out with the small steering wheel and a head-up instrument panel allowing me to get information without taking my eyes off the road.
The 9.7in touch screen coordinates controls for air con, driving aids, multimedia, navigation, telephone, Peugeot connect apps and vehicle settings. It is a minimalist and uncluttered dashboard.
An option is a Driver Assistance Pack, which incorporates three systems; radar located at the front: dynamic cruise control, emergency collision alert and emergency collision braking system.
Blind spot monitoring is also an option on high spec models as is a reversing camera and park assist system.