Peugeot 308

 Article last updated: 25/02/10

Peugeot 308
Sold in Australia from 2008 until present.
Price range when new: $25,990 - $37,990 AUD.
Engine power and torque range: 88-110kW, 160-240Nm (petrol); 80-100kW, 240-320Nm (diesel). 
Safety Rating: 4-stars (XS model); 5-stars (XSE, XTE models) - EuroNCAP results, 2008.
Size classifcation: C-segment, small family car.

"French arrogance has produced an impressive car... the 308 is as well built as a Volkswagen Golf"

Editor's Rating:

Peugeot, it seems, didn't listen to anyone at all when it started work developing the 308. First of all, they based the car on the version it was intended to replace, the 307, and that was widely panned by critics around the globe. They ignored everything, and set to work on a completely new car, seemingly adamant that they could make the 307 work, but in all-new form.

You might have thought that it was all just a case of French arrogance. But if it was, then French arrogance has produced an impressive car. The new 308 is virtually everything the 307 wasn't. Peugeot had major electrical issues with the old 307, and it became infamous as one of the most unreliable cars you could buy.

In the 308, everything feels solidly built, as if a German with square glasses had measured every shutline with his tape measure to the millimetre and shook his head: "Nein, nein, nein! Ve must schrink ze gap to 3 millimetres. 4 is not good enough," I'm sure he said. And then all the French workers at the 308 factory groaned. "Sacre bleu!", they chorused, but they eventually built the 308 to the German man's standards.

Maybe it sounds ridiculous, but something like that must have happened, because the 308 is as well built as a Volkswagen Golf, high-quality materials and everything, but is nowhere near as boring. It's a strongly anti-conservative statement, what with it's "I'm going to eat you all up" grille and it's wrap-around rear window.

But inside, it's all class. Simple, beautiful, tactile. It scores on space and comfort, too, but the steering wheel has no control functions, the glovebox is tiny, and the boot lip is pretty high. But these things aren't exactly dealbreakers.

It isn't cheap, and you don't get much engine for the money in base spec. But the Peugeot 308 is loaded with standard equipment, and it only gets better, the more you spend. And you can spend quite a lot. Think of the Peugeot 308 as a semi-premium family hatchback - it's classier and trendier than its competitors, so it deserves an accordingly higher pricetag, arguably. But remember that Peugeots depreciate more than most other cars, which is great if you're a second-hand buyer, but annoying if you buy one new.

It's biggest problem is that it competes with Volkwagen's outrageously capable Mark VI Golf, which mechanically outpoints it in just about every area. Engines, handling... it's got the edge. But not a large one.

But where the Peugeot 308 succeeds is on individuality. If you just couldn't suffer anything as bland as a Golf, then there is an attractive alternative here. It's a funky French car, built to Germanic standards.

Find specifications from the Peugeot Australia website HERE. Read the Peugeot 308 Brochure (pdf, 2.2 MB)

Read more reviews of the Peugeot 308: Reviewed May 19, 2008: "It’s not often that you find a car which is all things to all people, but the Peugeot 308 is one of those cars." Reviewed July 2008: "The 308 is a versatile all-rounder that could become quite a hit... it is the best effort from Peugeot for some time." Reviewed April 08, 2008: "The words funky and quirky tend to describe small French cars but the key word for Peugeot's new 308 range is 'refinement'." Reviewed November 01, 2007: "After driving the 308 you have to wonder if it contains any 307 at all... the 308 is a deeply attractive car."
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