The Best French Car I’ve Driven – Peugeot’s new 308

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The first impression

I attended the launch of the 308 in March. I was left impressed by this 2014 titleholder of the prestigious, European Car of the Year.

I remarked how visually, the new 308 is clean and modern with little “fad” type styling aids. Instead, the lines have been designed to have a broader reaching appeal and the effect is easy on the eye.

The new 308 is an all new car. Starting with a new chassis that has been designed to make the car lighter and more agile than before, while remaining taut. On paper, it is 140kg lighter than the car it replaces. This means that it doesn’t need a big engine to get it going.

Three key focus areas have been emphasised in the creation of the new 308: quality, engine technology and a category leading cockpit. These elements are tangible on all levels and overt for the driver to feel.

On the road

The 308 feels light on its feet. The sensation from the chassis can be likened to the leader, Audi’s MQB platform - used for the A3, VW Golf and TT - it’s the best in the business. The new platform from Peugeot though not the same, is similar. It enables the 308 to feel agile, quick, quiet and responsive to driver input. It is a huge leap forward for Peugeot and I look forward to driving other Peugeot product that shares this great platform.  

Peugeot are leaders in producing highly efficient diesel engines, so now, they’ve produced a petrol engine second to none in their 1.2 three cylinder turbo petrol unit (PureTech engine technology). It is simply outstanding in every respect, hence it having 121 patents. It is highly refined and offers brisk performance with a fantastic range of strong pulling power (torque) throughout its entire rev band. To add to its incredulous list of talents, the new engine is highly efficient. In fact, under a controlled test done by Peugeot, they achieved 1 810km on a technical test, which resulted in a consumption figure of 2.85l/100km. Though with spirited town driving, which I did, my figures were in the 9l range.

The cockpit is a special place: combining deeply recessed, highly visible instrument dials with a large, full colour touchscreen display, while a multifunction steering wheel further benefits intuitive access to key functions and features.

Starting off the range is the Peugeot 308 Active, which is fitted with the 1.2 PureTech e-THP 110 engine. It produces a maximum power output of 81kW at 5 500rpm. A five speed manual gearbox is standard.

By comparison, the 1.2 PureTech e-THP 130 engine fitted to the 308 GT Line that I reviewed elevates those output levels even further. Maximum power increases to an impressive 96kW at 5 500rpm. The GT Line model gets a light yet sporty six speed manual gearbox with optimised ratios.


What I liked

  • The quality feel of the 308’s chassis and interior
  • Fantastic 1.2T engine
  • Gorgeous interior and dashboard design


What I’m not mad about

  • Safe styling - though the GT Line does enhance the overall appeal of the car
  • Expensive in GT Line guise by comparison to its competitors



The figures

The extra stuff

The differences between the Active and GT Line models extend to exterior styling details and interior trim and equipment levels. For instance, the GT Line gains full LED headlights, a different grille, and twin narrow aperture tailpipes, as well as larger alloy wheels and more bright work.

A five star Euro NCAP rating underscores the new Peugeot hatchback’s exceptional safety standards with a comprehensive array of active and passive safety features.

The new Peugeot 308 goes on sale through the Peugeot national dealer network and is supported by a comprehensive service and warranty offering that includes a 3yr/100 000km manufacturer warranty, a 5yr/60 000km Premium Plan service plan and a 3yr/100 000km roadside assistance package.

The verdict

This is the best French car I’ve driven. Its balanced, advanced and basically a bloody good car. The Active version (R275 900), though less snazzy to look at than the GT Line (R329 900), would be the version of the 308 I’d pick. The reason? I feel this end of the car market (compact hatch/sedans) is very competitive. Listed above, you can see just how price competitive it is by viewing the table. The Ford Focus, ‘the world’s bestselling car’, has undercut its competition, and in addition, offers a two packs: Driver Assist and Trend Style, which elevate the car’s specification levels - to a high level.

The drive of the 308 is better than the Focus and most similar to the Golf.

If you’re an individual, have a flair for the dramatics and like being unique - this car is for you - and you’ll be happy with your decision - I promise! 



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