+ Very refined driving
+ Premium quality interior
+ All auto lineup
- PHEV models lose boot space
- Over-eager assistance systems
- No electric version yet
Verdict: With a mix of modern looks and a cabin that is vastly improved over its predecessor, the new Peugeot 308 is a class act. Its plug-in hybrid offerings show its best side and bode well for the incoming electric version.
2022 Peugeot 308 review: the five-minute read
The Peugeot 308 isn’t short of competition and many of them are quite established rivals such as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf, so it’s pulling out all the stops with its new model to give it a lead in the hatchback segment.
Available as both a five-door hatch and a capacious estate, the Peugeot 308 now has a more striking appearance that mimics the look of the French brand’s other models. A three-dimensional grille carries the company's new logo and like the others in the range the model name is carried on the nose. Fang-like LED daytime running lights extend down into the front bumper section and also double up as indicators.
At the upper end of the range, the GT models get full Matrix LED headlights that can fully illuminate the road ahead but dynamically block off sections where there are other road users, so as not to dazzle them. These GT models will also carry additional badges on the side wings.
A longer bonnet gives the 308 different proportions than before and the roof height has come down by 20mm and the wheelbase grown by 55mm. The latter introduces more generous levels of rear passenger space although it comes to the detriment of cargo volume in the boot which decreases slightly and that drops further again in the case of the plug-in hybrids, although there’s no exterior differences between the different engines other than an additional flap for the battery charge port with the PHEV.
With five specification grades available, and wheel sizes ranging from 16- to 18-inches plus some superb colour choices including the stunning Olivine Green (which is a no-cost option) and Vertigo Blue. Things look just as tasteful on the interior where there is a real upswing in both design and quality in comparison to the previous Peugeot 308.
As soon as you start driving with the battery power there is a noticeably hushed atmosphere in the cabin. It is a remarkably quiet car on the move, partly helped by acoustically optimised glass and a generous spread of sound-insulating material. There is next-to-no wind noise and even on the larger alloys wheels road noise is kept to a minimum. This aspect not only makes the 308 nice to drive but it highlights how well made the car appears to be, with not a single squeak or rattle present during our time behind the wheel.
The smaller steering wheel adds to the sensation of a quick steering rack that makes the Peugeot feel quite nimble and around urban streets it is unfazed by swift direction changes. Ride quality is good too, soaking up bumps easily and maintaining a good degree of body control during faster cornering. All this despite the PHEV carrying around 350kg more weight due to the additional hardware.
Some of the driver assistance systems can be eager at times. On more rural roads the lane keep assist did tend to step in quite quickly and give the steering wheel a nudge when it wasn’t always necessary. Nevertheless, the 308 puts in an excellent account of itself and is now one of the leading contenders in the segment.
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2022 Peugeot 308 interior and infotainment
Not only has the design of the Peugeot 308 significantly changed inside but so too has the level of quality regarding the materials used throughout. With a blend of nicer plastics, metallic surfaces and sharper angles, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for something more premium like an Audi A3.
The steering wheel is far from conventional, using a smaller diameter that is flat at the top and bottom. It helps when you’re peering over it at the fully digital instrument display. Drivers can configure it a number of ways and the higher GT and GT Premium models gain a 3D display with even more detail.
Among the cabin’s highlights is a new 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system that not only performs much better thanks to some new processors but has a display that is befitting of the car. Crisp colours, instant response to inputs, and proper smartphone integration, the kind of things that buyers expect these days.
Another new element is a second touchbar, half the height of the touchscreen, that functions as a display for shortcut ‘buttons’ to the car’s various systems. The display changes with the menu system, serving you widgets or controls depending on how you are using it.
With all models in the new 308 range exclusively using the eight-speed automatic gearbox there is more room on the centre console thanks to the small machined toggle switch for selecting drive rather than a chunky gear shifter. That also leaves good room for a pair of cupholders, the option of a wireless charging pad and further storage underneath the centre armrest.
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2022 Peugeot 308 practicality and boot space
The Peugeot 308’s new proportions are designed to maximise the interior space for passengers and while this is more noticeable in the rear seats the layout of the dashboard does make it seem roomy in the front too.
Due to Peugeot’s iCockpit layout that consists of a smaller-than-average steering wheel and a digital instrument cluster that sits atop the dash, it does take a little bit of time to find a driving position that works well. Availability of an electrically adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel with plenty of scope for setting rake and reach helps.
Previously the Peugeot 308 enjoyed bragging rights of having one of the largest boot capacities in its segment, but this time around it’s a bit more modest. As the passenger space inside has increased that means that the boot volume decreases to 412 litres. That’s still reasonably good for a hatchback, although with the plug-in hybrid versions that capacity drops to 361 litres, which is less than what you get in a regular Volkswagen Golf.
Things do get better with the estate, which Peugeot calls the 308 SW, as it gets a 608-litre boot that can increase to a very respectable 1,634 litres when the rear seats are folded forward.
2022 Peugeot 308 engines
From the start the Peugeot 308 will be available with both petrol and diesel engines and two plug-in hybrids. In time there will also be a fully electric model. Both of the PHEVs use a 14.2kWh lithium-ion battery that is placed in the rear of the car. When fully charged, Peugeot says that it can cover up to 37 miles using its 81kW electric motor, after which the 1.6-litre sparks into life.
The difference between the two plug-in hybrids comes down to the state of tune with the petrol engine, with the choice of 178bhp or a more potent 222bhp combined. Power is sent to the front wheel via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
A 1.2-litre petrol engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and has a power output of 128bhp and is capable of returning a respectable 52mpg. The auto gearbox makes things smoother and the three-cylinder motor has some character to it and is more willing than its displacement might suggest.
For longer journeys there is a 1.5-litre diesel engine that has lower CO2 emissions of 120g/km and can return up to 65mpg. Like the petrol, Peugeot only offers its EAT8 automatic gearbox with this engine, and its long gearing helps when cruising on the motorway.
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2022 Peugeot 308 Driving
Peugeot is keen to reposition itself as a more upmarket offering and that is clear from the moment you begin driving. Starting in electric mode in the case of the plug-in hybrid means it is quieter inside right from the outset, but even as the speed picks up it remains impressively hushed. The 81kW electric motor emits only the faintest of sounds, but it’s how the 308 drives and its ability to easily soak up bad road surfaces that makes it a standout car.
The electric motor delivers a good level of power that arrives smoothly and even when the 14.2kWh battery depletes its charge the 1.6-litre petrol engine gently comes into play to keep everything moving. Its eight-speed automatic shifts between gears very smoothly and if you’re gentle with your right foot the power delivery is almost as smooth as that from the electric motor. You can choose a Sport mode that turns up the wick and it does make the Peugeot move with greater urgency, though it’s not quite what we’d call a hot hatch. But dial it back a notch or three and the 308 soon eases into a groove that makes it a very enjoyable car to drive.
Despite carrying more weight than the petrol or diesel versions, the PHEV manages everything well and on more challenging roads it brakes well and easily holds a tight line in the bends. The diesel engine isn’t as engaging to drive primarily due to the more relaxed nature of the engine, which is better suited to settling down for longer journeys. As a mile-muncher the diesel 308 is an exceptionally comfortable car thanks in part to the supportive seats.
But if you’re sticking closer to home and you don’t want to go down the plug-in hybrid route for whatever reason then the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine makes for a peachy solution. The turbocharged three-cylinder engine may only produce 128bhp but its characterful engine feels as if it has more power than the spec sheets list. It’s rev-happy too, though doing so will put a bigger dent into your fuel economy figures.
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