The 308 isn’t a driver’s car but GT trim adds a touch of dynamic zest
This family hatch is a good Golf and Focus rival that’s worth considering. We scout out its specs
If you’re in the market for a used family hatchback offered with a choice of efficient engines, and benefiting from a decent chassis and good equipment, all available at a decent spread of prices to suit your specific depth of pocket, you’ve come to the right place.
Lauded as European Car of the Year at its launch in 2014, the Peugeot 308 has continued to be exactly that for thousands of used car buyers who have chosen it over rivals including the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
Indeed, at that same launch, there was talk that Peugeot had finally sprung a family hatch that was the equal of the class-leading Golf. It hadn’t, of course. It’s taken VW seven generations of continual improvement to get the Golf to where it is today, and there’s no way Peugeot was going to emulate that record of achievement in one giant leap.
Click here to buy your next used 308 from Autocar
Nevertheless, the 308 was, and remains, an impressive effort. Like the Golf, it’s the quietly assured one in the sector, relying on its restrained good looks, classy interior (with a novel dashboard and steering wheel arrangement that quickly grows on you) and its general refinement to win you over.
And then there are the engines. Naturally, early on when oil burners weren’t the villains of the piece, the 1.6 HDi 120 diesel was the big seller and a hit with fleets. It’s good value today, with a 2015 example with 50,000 miles weighing in at £6400.
It easily outnumbers the 1.2 PureTech 110 and 130 and the powerful 1.6 THP petrols. Regarding these, the turbocharged 110 and 130 units in particular are sweet and efficient affairs, and our pick if your mileage is average.
There were four trims ranging from entry-level Access to Feline, but we rate mid-spec Allure. All have a 9.7in touchscreen media system. It’s not the smoothest around, even following the 2017 facelift, and there are reports that it’s not that reliable, so check everything works.
Keen drivers were rewarded with GT trim in 2014, bringing lowered suspension and a 202bhp version of the 1.6 THP engine. The same year also saw the arrival of the 148bhp 2.0 BlueHDi. If you can find one, it’s a good cruiser and a handy tow car. It was available with an optional automatic gearbox, too.
The 308 was facelifted in 2017 to bring it closer in spirit to the then new and stylish 3008. It looks sharper but still nicely restrained. Inside, fit and finish rose a notch while satellite navigation became standard on all trims. Notable moves on the engine front were the replacement of the 1.6 BlueHDi diesel by a 128bhp 1.5 BlueHDi 130.
What didn’t change was the car’s slightly poor visibility (the back window is narrow) and cramped rear quarters. For reasons best known to itself, Peugeot chose to give more room to suitcases than to legs. Basically, if you need a big boot, you won’t be disappointed.
Top spec pick
GT: This trim sprinkles much-needed excitement over the conservative 308, with lower suspension, cooling air intakes, driving modes and adaptive cruise and autonomous braking.
Engine The timing belt runs in oil but on early cars it can became prematurely degraded. For this reason, if you’re buying an older 308, have the belt changed for the stronger item that Peugeot eventually introduced.
Running gear Some models from launch to the end of 2015 suffered a noisy rear axle. Listen for a clunking sound. Creaking rear suspension on 2018-reg cars is also a known issue.
Air conditioning Some earlier cars have suffered air con gas leaks from the condenser and it’s expensive to refill the system.
Need to know
The 308 uses Peugeot’s iCockpit, which has a smaller than usual steering wheel and the dials arranged above. It’s supposed to minimise the time your eyes are off the road but it takes some getting used to, especially when combined with a high seating position.
The model charted in a lowly 28th position out of 31 family cars in the latest What Car? reliability survey. On the other hand, as a brand Peugeot was voted the most dependable in a survey carried out by JD Power earlier this year.
The 308 has experienced more than its fair share of recalls so be sure to check they’ve been attended to on the car you’re interested in. A Peugeot dealer will be able to help.
308 1.2 Puretech 130 Allure: The 308’s petrol engines, notably this 128bhp unit, have the measure of the diesels. Allure trim brings LED headlights, parking sensors and an electric parking brake.
308 1.6 GTI: With 256bhp on tap, this fastest 308 is definitely the wild card in the range – but it’s not unruly. It’s a sophisticated hatch that’s more involving even than a Golf GTi.
Ones we found
2014 308 1.6 HDi Active: 105,000 miles, £3795
2016 308 1.2 PureTech 110 Allure: 32,000 miles, £7991
2017 308 1.2 PureTech 130 GT Line: 28,000 miles, £10,335
2018 308 1.6 THP GTi: 16,000 miles, £17,995
Peugeot opens UK order books for new 208 and e-208
First drive: 2020 Peugeot e-2008 prototype
New Volkswagen Golf seen undisguised inside and out