Eco-friendly facelift for Peugeot 308
Iain Dooley is impressed by how Peugeot raised the appeal of the 308 with a nip and tuck and engine tweaks.
There's no denying the success of Peugeot's 308 family hatchback. You don't have to look far to spot one, which shows the car's attractive, sensible styling, good proportions, smart pricing and a well thought-out cabin have tempted many buyers into the showroom.
In facelifted guise the car sports the new family nose. From the front the revised 308's nose is now less in your face, and this restrained styling approach better suits the car's more upmarket positioning.
The alterations are subtle, which goes to prove the confidence Peugeot has in the appeal of its mid-size family hatchback.
From launch the 308 never lacked a quality cabin ambience. A welcome improvement over its predecessor and a set-up that easily matched many of its rivals, premium grade trim materials and plush upholstery helped to boost the car's appeal.
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Again, subtle is an apt way to describe the improvements in the cabin. Changes to the switchgear and trim detail have been made, although you'll be hard pressed to notice immediately as the 308's baseline performance was already high. Spend some time in the car and you soon better appreciate the overall experience, though.
You can't design an inviting interior like this without backing it up with a good range of equipment, so it's reassuring to see Peugeot generously adding air-conditioning, stability control, anti-lock brakes, rear electric windows with child security, remote central locking with deadlocks and six airbags to every model. As you'd expect, moving up the range sees the likes an uprated audio unit, sat-nav, parking sensors, climate control and leather.
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The cabin's ambience might make you feel warm and fuzzy inside but the engine line-up is likely to leave more money in your wallet than in the past. Although Peugeot's recent track record has been a solid one, this latest 308 gains an engine stop-start function to further drive down fuel consumption and emissions. Even without it, savings across the board will please fuel-misers.
Peugeot's not alone in this area, but where the French company moves ahead of its rivals is in the execution of technology. Simply put, the stop-start action is near seamless and the physical act of shutdown and start up are barely noticeable. The start-up response time is also impressively rapid, ensuring you can make that quick getaway.
Branded as an 'e-HDi Micro Hybrid System' this new piece of kit offers the quick shutdown and restart plus regenerative braking and a battery storage system to help power the car's ancillaries when stationary, plus boost economy and help lower CO2. Available initially on the 308 112 HDi diesel, it's rated at 115g/km CO2 with a six-speed manual gearbox and 109g/km with the six-speed automated gearbox option.
There's potential to lower those figures with a super-eco Oxygo model which promises no loss in creature comforts but a 98g/km CO2 rating if chosen with Peugeot's automated gearbox option.
Obviously other engines exist, with the car's line-up ranging from an entry-level 1.4 petrol and rising to a potent 2.0-litre turbo motor. On the diesel side there's the option of a 1.6, which forms the basis of the economy-centric models, and a performance-orientated 2.0-litre. Both are offered in different states of tune. It's worth mentioning the 1.6 HDi diesel is a sweet spot in the range and likely to be a favourite with company car drivers for all the obvious money-saving reasons.
Whether given to you by your employer or bought with your own money, the revised 308's many detailed changes will be welcome. Yet it's also customary to judge a Peugeot on its ability to please the driver. Over the years the French company has built up a considerable reputation for delivering smooth-riding, supple-handling cars. This 308 remains an engaging experience, cleverly blending refinement with a willingness to entertain.
Available in six trim levels, Peugeot's revised 308 delivers an impressive, rounded performance. What sets the car apart from its many rivals is the increased focus on economy-minded motoring, but not at the expense of occupant comfort or driver enjoyment. That alone should help further boost its appeal in the marketplace.
Peugeot 308 1.6 e-HDi 112 SR
price: �18,265 (range from �15,245)
Engine: 1.6-litre, 112bhp turbo diesel
Transmission: Six-speed manual driving front wheels
Performance: 0-62mph 11.4 seconds; top speed 118mph
CO2 Rating: 115g/km