Peugeot 308 GT Premium review
Nov 26, 2023
It's a case of ‘vive la difference’ for small car buyers tempted by the impressive new Peugeot 308 hatch and wagon.
Recently arrived in Australia, the third-generation Peugeot 308 is the latest evolution of the marque's ‘300 series’ that stretches back to the 301 from the early 1930s.
Having launched in Europe in late 2021, it's taken a while for the new 308 to arrive here, following in the wheel tracks of the 2013 second-generation and 2007 first-generation models, which notched up an impressive seven million sales globally.
Despite being something of a niche brand here in Australia, Peugeot is hoping the new 308's fresh looks and impressive technology will attract small car buyers wanting something more inspired than a run-of-the-mill daily driver, and who are prepared to open their wallets slightly wider.
At launch, the local range comprised three variants – the GT hatch ($43,990), higher-grade GT Premium in both hatch ($48,990) and wagon ($50,490) body styles – all powered by the brand's Puretech 130 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine.
Peugeot has subsequently added the GT Sport Hatch plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which is powered by a 132kW 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine and an 81kW electric motor.
As with other models in the 308 range, the GT Sport Hatch PHEV is front-wheel drive, but the petrol-electric combination elevates its outputs to 165kW/360Nm, which easily shades the 96kW/230Nm of the petrol-only models, but also hikes the price tag to a heady $64,990 (MRLP).
Underpinning both the petrol and PHEV versions is an evolution of Peugeot's EMP2 Efficient Modular Platform, which incorporates new structural elements to improve safety, comfort and driving pleasure according to the manufacturer.
Our test drives were limited to the hatch and wagon in petrol GT Premium trim, so we haven't yet sampled the PHEV.
These petrol models drive through an efficient eight-speed auto transmission (EAT8), where the PHEV uses the e-EAT8 gearbox in which the torque convertor is replaced with a wet clutch pack.
Peugeot claim an official electric-only driving range of 60km for the PHEV from its 12.4kWh lithium-ion battery and miserly combined cycle fuel consumption of 1.3L/100km.
It's worth noting, however, that all models including the PHEV require minimum 95 RON premium fuel.
The Puretech 130 petrol models churn out a claimed 96kW at 5,500rpm and 230Nm from 1750 RPM.
On the road, the turbo three-pot is perky and provides decent drivability thanks to its strong mid-range torque.
Pulling off the line quickly reveals some initial lag before the powertrain gathers its skirts, but once it gets going the engine delivers a characterful note and is well-matched to the responsive eight-speed automatic.
Petrol models offer the choice of Eco, Normal, and Sport driving modes, and paddle shifters are standard.
With a tare weight that's 56kg heavier than the hatch, the wagon takes a little longer to sprint from zero to 100km/h, stopping the clock at 9.9 seconds versus 9.7 seconds for its stablemate.
Find out why RACQ Car Insurance is made for Queenslanders
The PHEV is 297kg heavier again at 1611kg, but its extra oomph easily compensates for the extra mass to nail a brisk 7.5-second 0-100km/h sprint.
The 308 rides on independent pseudo-MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear axle with coil springs and telescopic dampers.
There's a Euro-tautness to the suspension tune that's never terse, but carefully balances ride comfort with pleasingly responsive and tidy handling.
The pleasantly weighted steering is quick and linear in its action, with the compact flat-bottomed leather-bound GT steering wheel a delight to hold.
All models roll on 225/40 R18 Michelin rubber fitted to diamond-cut two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels in two designs – one for the entry model GT hatch and another for the remaining versions.
Unfortunately, owners of all versions must make do with the limited practicality of a tyre mobility kit, instead of a proper spare wheel.
The new 308 is the first model to carry Peugeot's new coat of arms, with the distinctive badge centrally mounted on a broad and assertive dark-chrome grille that extends out to matrix LED headlights and hook-shaped LED daytime running lights.
The front fenders are adorned with Peugeot's Lion emblem in black and silver, while at the rear the full LED taillights feature the marque's unique ‘three-claw’ design.
The newcomer certainly looks striking in the Olivine Green metallic paint of our test model, which is the only ‘no cost’ colour on the hatch.
Avatar Blue metallic is the ‘no cost’ choice on the wagon, or there are six other metallic paint colours adding $690 to the bottom line for ‘standard metallic’, or $1,050 for ‘premium metallic’.
The attractively designed interior boasts quality materials and finishes and features the next generation of Peugeot's i-Cockpit design.
This setup has polarised opinion since its introduction, with some drivers finding it difficult to obtain a suitable relationship to the tilt and reach adjustable wheel while maintaining proper instrument visibility.
Your correspondent had no such issues and found the 308 generally easy to interact with, but it's definitely worth potential buyers checking out this feature during a pre-purchase inspection, to ensure you’re comfortable with it.
Other notable interior features include that compact, full-grain leather multi-function heated steering wheel, high-mounted 10-inch 3D digital instrument panel, 10-inch high-definition colour touchscreen with i-Connect infotainment system, and an eight-colour customisable LED ambient lighting system for the door panels.
There's also a row of customisable touch-sensitive i-toggle shortcut keys positioned below the central screen providing handy short cut settings for the aircon, telephone contacts, radio stations and digital apps.
The wagon offers less restricted rear vision through its back glass than the hatch, aided by a 360-degree multi-view camera system (180-degree camera on the GT hatch) and front and rear park sensors on both body types.
The 308's front seats are well-shaped and bolstered for comfort and support, with the GT Premium offering eight-way power adjustment with two memory positions for the driver, and six-way electric adjustment for the front passenger.
Both front pews have four-way lumbar adjustment and cushion extensions, as well as multi-point massage and seat heating to soothe tired muscles. The entry model makes do with six-way manual driver and passenger front-seat adjustment.
In the rear, the outer positions offer better comfort than the centre position where the cushion and backrest feel narrow and rather hard.
Passengers here fare well for head room, though leg and foot room are less generous. That said, with a longer wheelbase, as well as increased height, width and length, the new model is roomier than its predecessor.
Unsurprisingly, the wagon offers a more practical and generous load area than the hatch, specifically 608 litres of space with the rear seats in use, expanding to 1,634 litres with the 40:20:40 rear seat flat folded. By comparison, the GT hatch offers 412 and 1,323 litres respectively, while the GT Premium hatch is restricted to 384 and 1,295 litres.
The rear seats in the hatch split-fold 60:40, but unlike the wagon the expanded load area floor isn't fully flat, with a notable step up from the cargo area.
All grades are well equipped but the higher grade GT Premium naturally upping the ante to include the upgraded front seats and superior camera system, along with auto-dip in reverse exterior mirrors, door-mirror mounted puddle lights, smart power tailgate (wagon only), FOCAL premium 10-speaker sound system (hatch only, in lieu of standard six-speaker system), bi-tone roof rails (wagon only), panoramic glass roof with interior blind, and black full-grain Nappa leather seat trim with charcoal grey top-stitch.
In the safety and driver assistance department there's AEB with low-light pedestrian and cyclist detection, auto post-collision braking, hill-start assist, seat belt alerts (all seats), six airbags, rear cross-traffic alert, long-range blind-spot detection, adaptive cruise control with stop/go function, speed sign recognition, driver attention warning, tyre pressure monitoring, active lane-keep assist, and active lane positioning assist (GT Premium only).
Infotainment and connectivity are also well catered for with Bluetooth, DAB+ radio, wireless smartphone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, Peugeot i-Connect (voice activated), voice recognition (radio, nav, telephony), and four USB ports.
A three-year free subscription for the internet-connected 3D navigation is included in the purchase price, with the Tom Tom-backed system providing car park space availability, fuel station location and daily pricing, along with wireless internet map searching, speedcam alert, live traffic routing/updates, and monthly wireless map updates. Paid extensions to the system are available after the three-year included period are available.
Peugeot warrants the new 308 for five years/unlimited kilometres and provides five years roadside assistance, plus a five-year service price promise program.
The PHEV's lithium-ion battery is warranted to 70% load capacity for eight years/160,000km.
Owners of the petrol models will be visiting their dealer for servicing every 12 months or 15,000km, with the first five services totalling $2,669.
The PHEV requires servicing every 12 months or 20,000km, with $2,960 the total for the first five services.
Peugeot also offers three and five-year pre-paid service plans.
The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person's particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.MLP: ENGINE: ANCAP CRASH RATING: FUEL CONSUMPTION (combined cycle): FOR: AGAINST: