Choose your 308 in either an estate or hatchback model, and then look forward to getting out on the road. You’ll look and feel great in this car: there’s MP3 connectivity, front fog lights, double optic headlights, and a trip computer for your convenience. Speak to us today – there’s a Peugeot 308 contract hire option waiting for you.
It's that good. There’s a level of self-confidence and, yes, desirability here that we’ve not seen from Peugeot in a very long time.
Peugeots of this size used to be defined by the way they drove. People whose first impressions will be positive as they settle in behind the small low-set steering wheel that’s now an established brand trademark and peer above it at a slick-looking dial pack. It all works much better with more of the instruments now being visible. Folk trading up from the original 308 will appreciate better visibility and comfier seats. In other words the first signs are largely promising.
This 308 is slightly wider, slightly shorter and slightly lower than its predecessor, with shorter overhangs that push the wheels nearer to the four corners of an all-new modular EMP2 platform. The handsome front end features a sculpted bonnet with distinctive swage lines that flow into sharky headlights offering LED. The overall effect is a look that's confident, yet modern and restrained. In the lower area of the front bumper, a wide air intake is framed by foglamps that incorporate directional indicators and are set into a C-shaped chromed surround.
Moving back past the pebble-shaped door mirrors with their neat built-in LED turn lights, two strong character lines flow into a toned triangular rear three quarter panel that sits above subtly bulging rear haunches. The slim rear screen looks smart too, as do the small but intricately formed rear light clusters that when lit, illuminate a distinctive ‘three-lion-claw’ visual signature. Overall, there's a pleasingly understated maturity about the styling on offer here. It's not trying too hard. We like that.
Take a place in one of the very comfortable seats up front in what Peugeot rather pretentiously calls the ‘i-Cockpit’ and four things are immediately apparent: quality, lack of button clutter, the big centre-dash LCD infotainment screen and, most notably, the tiny steering wheel above which (rather than through which) you’re supposed to view the instruments with their finely sculpted red needles. Let’s start with that, part of an arrangement first seen on the smaller 208 supermini but more effectively delivered here because it’s easier to see the high-mounted dial pack above the wheel rim. Yes, it’s a bit of a culture shock. Yes, you’ll eventually get to like it.
You look around the cabin you can try and appreciate what Peugeot has tried to do with the interior of this 308. With the possible exception of the rather incongruous-looking over-sized gear knob, it’s all very nice indeed, with lovely touches like the Aston Martin-style contra-rotating rev counter. Plenty of soft-touch plastics and cool chrome finishes mean that the quality’s certainly a cut above what you’d expect from a model priced against rivals in this segment.
There’s a small central cluster in front of the gearstick for locking, heated rear window and hazard lights – and that’s about it. Otherwise, everything’s been relocated to the 9. 7-inch colour LCD touchscreen that’s standard on all but baseline models and dominates the centre of the dash. Whether you think that this is a good thing will depend of your point of view. The functions aren’t as immediately intuitive as the usual knobs and dials of course and personally, I’d have separated the ventilation controls back out onto the dash. It’s a bit annoying after all, to have to switch screens and jab away at a touchscreen every time you want to tweak the fan or alter the cabin temperature.
Having said that, the set-up works well once you’re used to it, featuring sat nav as standard, along with access to vehicle settings, Bluetooth ‘phone functions, a stereo system which can include a 6. 9GB Jukebox as well as a photo viewer and various optional driving aids, plus a selection of downloadable Peugeot Connect Apps. To activate and select from these, you’ll need to pay an annual subscription which gets you a so-called ‘Plug&Play 3G’ key that slots into the USB port you’ll find in the glovebox. You’ll then be able to get yourself apps telling you everything from the nearest parking space to traffic information, weather and tourist tips. The Coyote app’s worth downloading too, a crowd-sourced warning system that briefs you on highway hold-ups, danger points and speed traps already encountered by over 2 million other road users.
That only leaves cabin practicalities: the decently-sized 12-litre air conditioned glovebox. Door bins that can take a large 1. 5-litre water bottle, a centre console with a sliding cover revealing a cupholder which can be swivelled out of the way so you can stash away wallets and ‘phones. Plus there’s a useful shelf directly under the central touchscreen that’s ideal for iPods and MP3 players. Finally, I should mention the fact that you have to have an electric parking brake. This one is automatic and disengages without requiring a push - which is a big plus in its favour.
Drawbacks? There aren't too many at all. Rear seat accommodation could be better. Not everyone will like the infotainment touchscreen – or the fact that you can’t have it in entry-level trim. And years of premium product development will be needed before residuals can fully match those of a rival Volkswagen Golf – but then you can allow for that with more affordable up-front pricing. Overall though, what’s on offer here is a car that looks set to restore Peugeot's reputation for building elegant, comfortable and understated vehicles. A car that finally makes good on the brand’s upmarket aspirations. It's been a long time coming.