One of the biggest blockbuster movies I saw in my first year at University, was Back to the Future. The story centred around Marty McFly a teenage kid from a below average household, who travels back in time 30 years from 1985 in a De Lorean & encounters his parents as high school students. Marty manages to influence a number of events in 1955 including helping matchmake his parents relationship, whilst simultaneously thwarting the school bully Biff, in his attempts to woo his mother. The consequence of this, is that back in 1985 the Mcflys are now successful & Biff the bully has been reduced to washing cars.
How is this relevant to Peugeots new 308 ? Well, in 1985 Peugeot launched the 309. In GTi format it was nothing short of sensational to drive & in tandem with the smaller 205 GTi were icons of the 1980’s. The 309 was a hard act to follow, but in 1993 Peugeot struck gold again with the 306. I remember road testing a 306 estate & it had the road holding of a Porsche 911, extraordinary for a small family car. However, as cars became safer & held more kit they also became heavier & slower & the fun factor disappeared & has been missing on pretty much all Peugeots ever since.
With a length of 4.25m, the new PEUGEOT 308 is the most compact hatchback in its segment and when compared to its predecessor, it is lower, with a height of 1.46m and wider, with a width of 1.80m. The front and rear overhangs have been reduced, which makes it possible to place the wheels nearer to the ‘four corners’. The 470-litre boot volume, of which 35-litres are divided storage compartments under the floor mat, is also a record space in the segment. The low loading sill and the wide opening make loading the boot space easy. With a 140kg reduction in weight the new PEUGEOT 308 is also the lightest vehicle in the segment, due in the main to the new EMP2 platform, which saves 27 kg, by using innovative steels, composites and aluminium, 10kg by means of innovative assembly processes & 33 kg was eliminated due to an optimised design . As a world first, the tailgate is formed using a composite material called Thermoplastic, which reduces the weight of the tailgate by 3kg.
Full LED headlamps of the new PEUGEOT 308 also contribute to comfort and safety. They provide excellent visibility at night. Each headlamp consists of 31 LEDs. The great uniformity of light projection reduces eye fatigue and the lighting is perceived as being close to daylight. The Full LED headlamps consume 50% less energy than than halogen headlamps. The new 308 offers the PEUGEOT i-Cockpit interior, which consists of four components: a compact steering wheel, a raised instrument panel, a high centre console and a large 9.7” touch screen for intuitive driving. What is most notable is that the dash board feels ‘clutter free’ with the majority of functions controlled by the touchscreen eschewing the usual control buttons. It looks a little like the band covering Judge Dredds eyes has been super imposed onto the dash board, which has to be a good thing !
Another factor which will make the 308 a popular choice, is the way it looks – a hybrid of Audis A3 & the Mercedes A Class & it’s prettier than both & looks great from all angles, another return to form for the Peugeot brand. The 308 model range follows the existing Peugeot range with four levels of specification. The entry level Access which doesn’t have the touchscreen, but has DAB, Bluetooth & USB, in it’s cheapest form the 1.2 VTi, costs from just £14,495 OTR which is very impressive. Next up is the Active, followed by the Allure & then the range topping Feline.
Coming full circle, I’ve saved the best ’til last. By reducing the weight of the 308 by 140 kg over it’s predecessor, whilst retaining all of the modern safety features & in car equipment, not only have Peugeot made the Mk 2 a cost effective proposition, they have also managed to make it fun to drive. Taking a key from the 208, the smaller steering wheel makes controlling the 308 great fun & with the four wheels on the corners it handles splendidly, as was demonstrated to us at Thruxton on their Go-Kart track. What Peugeot achieved with the 208 GTi has been further enhanced in the 308 & in a family car to boot. I for one was delighted, a real return to the fun of the 309, 205 & 306, something I didn’t think was possible, so congratulations to Peugeot for that.
Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads. 4.5/5