Contrary to previously announced, the third generation of the 308 will not arrive in dealerships until early next year. The delay with respect to the initial programs was caused by the semiconductor supply difficulties that are afflicting all car manufacturers and which have slowed down the build-up of the initial stock necessary for a commercial launch worthy of a model that aspires to large market numbers.
On the other hand, it will be available immediately both as a 5-door sedan – a configuration that represents 65% of requests in the C segment – and as a station wagon, a formula which suffers from the ruthless competition of SUVs but still attracts a substantial public.
It must be recognized that a Peugeot with such a muscular line already in the versions at the base of the range, which differ little from the more characterized ones, had never been seen.
Even if the exquisitely sporty version – hybrid and with all-wheel drive – will arrive only next year (microchip permitting), one wonders if the intrinsic sportiness of this model will not conflict with that of the future compact Alfa Romeo, since both brands they are part of the same group and will have a lot in common.
The new 308 has a low stance, a vaguely threatening nose, prominent wheel arches and a generous amount of aerodynamic appendages, also in the case of the SW. The change of approach compared to the previous generation is evident, which focused on discretion to counter the VW Golf on its own field. The 308 has also become longer (11 cm for the saloon, 6 cm for the SW) but a couple of centimeters lower and this has given it more momentum.
Like the exterior, the dashboard is also very personal, clearly seeking a style that is characteristic and immediately attributable to the brand. The endowment of electronics is extensive both in terms of entertainment and for the instrumentation which is virtual and, in the more complete set-ups, even holographic. The final effect fascinates, but it takes a bit of learning to get to the immediacy of consultation.
Obviously, the i-Cockpit, now a workhorse of Peugeot, is proposed again, that is the high dashboard, to be looked at above the small steering wheel, which has the dimensions of a racing car. Also in this case, compared to a traditional driving seat, it is a bit more laborious to find the optimal adjustment of the steering column and the seat, but the result is an above-average feeling of control and involvement.
The overall rich and gratifying appearance of the passenger compartment is contrasted by some less valuable plastic elements, such as the rigid panel on the central tunnel or the upper area of the rear door panels, but overall the premium ambitions of the 308 are well placed.
The availability of driver assistance systems is state of the art in the C segment and the same goes for infotainment, which provides for high integration with smartphones, even in wireless mode, and an effective voice command system.
The engine range is similar to that of the other models of the former PSA group: 1,200 three-cylinder turbo petrol engines with 110 or 130 HP, 1,500 four-cylinder turbo diesel engines with 130 HP and 1,600 turbo petrol plug-in hybrid engines with 180 or 225 HP. In 2023, then, the fully electric variant will arrive.
The 180 HP hybrid, designed for companies and fleets, already has energetic performance. The electric motor is ready low and enough for almost any normal ride requirement. According to the manufacturer, with the 12.4 kWh battery charged, you travel with “zero” emissions even for about sixty km. The non-rigid but very composed set-up makes it an easy and intuitive car even when using all the horsepower. Which, in fact, the driving posture makes you want to do. Those who, on the other hand, prefer to move around in peace can count on remarkable fluidity, with the internal combustion engine and the electric one alternating and combining almost imperceptibly. To access the hybrid range you need at least 36,750 euros, net of any incentives, but already the 1,200-horsepower 130-horsepower turbo, which can be reached from 24,550 euros, guarantees mature and almost surprising aplomb compared to the engine capacity. And the 300 kg less are all felt in terms of agility. Even the turbodiesel shows a pleasant brilliance, because the “small” 1,500 revs easily despite not having the stretch of its petrol brother and is also a noisier but, obviously, consumption is on his side.
Peugeot 308, the card
What it is: It is the third chapter of Peugeot’s C-segment model, after the 2007 and 2013 editions. It was born on a completely different platform and prepared for electrification. It is immediately available in both hatchback/5-door and station wagon body styles.
Dimensions: length 4,367 meters (SW: 4,636 meters), width 1,852 meters, height 1,441 meters (SW: 1,442 meters), wheelbase 2,675 meters (SW: 2,732).
Rivals: Audi A3, BMW 1 Series, Citroën C4, DS4 Ford Focus, Hyundai i30, Kia Ceed, Mazda3, Mercedes A-Class, Renault Megane, Seat/Cupra Leon, Toyota Corolla, VW Golf
Engines: 1,200 turbo petrol 110 or 130 HP, 1,500 turbo diesel 130 HP, 1,600 turbo petrol plug-in hybrid 180 or 225 HP. The all-electric version will arrive in 2023.
Merits: Original and distinctive exterior and interior styling, remarkable comfort, extensive customization possibilities, fun road character.
Defects: Rear roominess lower than the best in the category, some cheap internal plastic.
Production: Mulhouse (France).
Prices: The sedan starts at 23,750 euros while the station wagons cost 1,000 euros more for the same equipment and engine. For the diesel version, at least 26,550 euros are needed. The hybrid range starts at 36,750 euros.