The new Peugeot 308 was unveiled last March, more than a year ago. We’ve already tested the 308 in hatchback trim with gasoline 1.2 PureTech and a combi version with the diesel 1.5 BlueHDi. This time around, we’ve got the ultimate in both equipment and motoring in the form of a plug-in hybrid model with a 1.6 PureTech petrol engine in combination with an electric motor, with a respectable 225bhp of power. Let’s take a closer look at the “supercharged” 308…
As far as looks go, Peugeot has changed and modernised everything it could for the new 308. Starting with the rejuvenated 3D lion-headed logo, which looks dominant and rightly gives the impression at first glance that this is definitely not going to be a plain and boring car. Even the large black grille with sabre-toothed daytime running lights gives the car sporty and predatory features.
What Peugeot needs to let go of is (finally) a diverse range of body colours. In this case, the Vertigo blue metallic certainly suits the hybrid powertrain. The vehicle is complemented by 18-inch black-painted wheels with 225-millimeter-wide tires. These grip the car perfectly when cornering in a sportier manner. We’ll get to that later…
When you approach the car, especially at night, the 308 greets you with a 3D boarding logo and flashy kinetic headlight graphics both front and rear. In every trim, the vehicle comes with Full LED headlights. Then, for an extra cost, you can have Matrix LED headlights with automatic high beam switching and glare elimination for oncoming vehicles – they work perfectly.
The last group of lights is divided into three separate segments. Each is made up of spatially beveled rectangles that further visually expand the vehicle. The outermost segments additionally contain hidden LEDs for the turn signals. The fog lamps and reversing lights are subtly positioned at the edges of the black bumper next to the “fake” exhaust tips.
The only thing that doesn’t look very good to me with any version of the new 308 is the edges of the side sills and their only being covered halfway up the rear doors. The chosen length and the visible edge of the joint with the body makes it look cheap, like some novice tuner did them in. In my opinion, the car would look cleaner and more natural without them. But design is an individual thing and so what I don’t like, another may find exceedingly interesting…
When you get behind the wheel, you’ll feel like you’re in another world in every new Peugeot. The new i-Cockpit is the reason. The low and bevelled steering wheel, like something out of a go-kart, encourages sporty driving.
The digital alarm pad is perched further away from the driver and, unusually, you’re looking at it over the small steering wheel, not through it as you are in most other cars. The central display sits lower than we’ve become used to in recent years, but it doesn’t intrude on the top line of the dashboard and certainly doesn’t obstruct the view out of the car.
Unfortunately the big drawback of the whole interior is the huge susceptibility to catching fingerprints. After a few minutes of setting up the car, you feel like you haven’t cleaned the display in perhaps a year. From the top, the display is framed by well-adjustable heating and air conditioning vents.
Below the display is another touch pad for shortcuts and quick access in the infotainment system. Here you can select your favourite radio station, quick switch to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, an air conditioning preset or a speed dial to dial a contact, for example.
There are actually a lot of possibilities, and the way you replace the shortcuts is also very reminiscent of mobile phone logic. It’s actually just another little touchscreen that you’ll use the most out of all the elements, thanks to the quick access option. Peugeot calls this system i-Toggles, and it deserves a lot of attention and admiration for the quality of the workmanship. Beneath this mini-display you’ll also find a couple of physical buttons that allow you to access the driver assist settings, control the heating and air conditioning, quickly switch to the internal air circulation circuit and turn off the heating. Someone’s been thinking here and that’s the way it should be…
All the connectors you’ll find in the interior are USB-C type and so you won’t avoid buying new cables. However, you can also charge your phone wirelessly, using the Qi standard, in the compartment below the central display. Just make sure you place it in the right compartment. There are two close together and only one supports charging. The other is purely a storage area by the USB-C connectors. and you’ll also find a classic 12V socket next to it for other electronics.
The location of the start button on the wide center tunnel is logically chosen, and the gear selector is right next to it. The parking brake and regenerative “B” mode (like Brake) have dedicated buttons. Between reverse, neutral and “D” for forward, you then use a rocker switch with two stages of operation. So you can go from reverse to “D-stop” with one long pull.
On the centre console closer to the driver, you’ll find just the drive mode selector, which you’ll initially mistake for a gear lever by feel. This switch gives you the choice of going purely electric, switching to the petrol engine if needed, or using both power sources for sporty driving. After each start, the vehicle automatically switches to electric mode. If you have an almost or fully depleted battery, the mode is automatically selected as hybrid. And this is also the mode you’ll use most often. It’s a great pity that you can’t configure a custom vehicle mode that would be activated according to the user profile and eliminate the “martyrdom” of switching off lane assist, switching to SPORT mode and switching on the back massage every time…
So much for the exterior and interior, let’s finally get to that hybrid tech and performance.
The 308 Hybrid offers two power outputs from the 1.6-litre petrol engine, with 110 or 132kW. Both petrol variants are always complemented by an 81 kW electric motor. Shifting is taken care of by an e-EAT8 automatic eight-speed gearbox, and thanks to this connection, the vehicle can also run on “discounted” registration plates. According to the WLTP tables, it can run with emissions well below 50 grams per kilometre. Specifically, it can get down to 25-30 g CO²/100km in hybrid mode.
The battery, with a total capacity of 12.4 kWh (however, the usable capacity is only 9.9 kWh), is located under the floor and thus does not take up space in the luggage compartment. It’s rather smaller in this short version, but you can still get some of the baby stroller in there. The manufacturer quotes an electric range of between 60 and 74 kilometres. The on-board display with a fully charged battery didn’t exceed 46 kilometres over the test period. The weather was beautiful, sunny and dry and one could say that these were almost ideal conditions for the electric drive. In the winter I estimate about -30% range still due to heating and battery temperature.
The control also offers brake force regeneration, and it’s good to get used to switching the selector to Brake mode even from a slight hill. If you know you have another 10 or 20 miles of city driving to do after highway driving, you can lock the battery percentages for that range in the vehicle settings, and the internal combustion engine will conserve the battery for later use. But it’s certainly not a good idea to drain the battery and then forcefully recharge it with the internal combustion engine. In that case you will double your fuel consumption. And driving a plug-in hybrid at 8 litres per 100 km is a real shame. You simply have to anticipate and operate with where you are going to be.
In hybrid mode, you can easily drive with gasoline consumption of around 2-3l/100 km and under 10 kWh/100 km of electric assistance. In pure electric city driving, you can get to 14-20 kWh/100km for shorter distances. It depends a lot on how you use the regeneration and above all on your driving style.
In the long term, fuel consumption was in the 5l/100km and 7 kWh/100km range for electricity when driving almost one thousand kilometres. And when charging the car domestically without an EV tariff it is possible to drive for around €3 per 100 kilometres.
The charger port is located on the left C-pillar, and mirrored on the other side you will then find the refueling port. The Peugeot 308 doesn’t offer any method of fast charging, so you’re always reliant on the on-board charger and AC power. So the fastest way to charge the car is from a 22 kW AC charger via the classic Mennekes port. In this case, you charge at a speed of 12 km/h. In domestic conditions, the speed varies between 4 and 8 km/h. You can usually recharge the entire battery in 7 hours. Night charging is thus directly encouraged. If you go out for repeated rides during the day, you won’t charge too much in moments of standing still. But that’s not much different with other plug-in hybrids either.
Peugeot has also gone to great lengths to make driving easier. It therefore offers a wide range of traffic assistants that again put the driver more in the passenger’s seat. A button on the steering wheel toggles between classic cruise control or a more complex travel assistant. The latter can guard the lane, can change lanes on its own when you give it a signal, watches for blind spots and will adjust its speed according to the surrounding cars and traffic signs. The vehicle also guards lanes when Travel Assist is not on. On the motorway, it’s pretty easy to rely on, but of course it will alert you if you take your hands off the wheel. Your attention is always on the vehicle.
Peugeot’s sporty appearance catches many an eye. But its sports driving capabilities are somewhat limited. If you take advantage of the sporty driving mode, you’ll definitely have fun, but you shouldn’t expect to win races with sharply tuned internal combustion hatchbacks. The responsive acceleration is great, the engine pull lets you know there’s a solid engine under the hood, and the perfect chassis will hold the car up more than it needs to in the corners.
It’s true that when the petrol and electric powertrains work together, the 308 hybrid is decently nimble. It sprints from zero to 60 in 7.5 seconds. The electric motor kicks in immediately, filling those moments when the combustion engine has no turbo pressure or is just shifting. Then, on a properly stiff sports chassis, the car responds gamely, bravely fights understeer, and lets you take it happily and confidently around the county roads and on the motorway.
The impression, however, is easily spoiled by the slightly slower gearbox. But when you realise what you actually got a hybrid car for, you’ll forgive it very quickly. Also, don’t expect blistering acceleration from an electric motor. It’s the main reason the 308 hybrid reduces fuel consumption, and it doesn’t perform the main function of a pure EV. The pure petrol range is some 500 kilometres and that’s not such a problem, but the battery only gives something around the aforementioned 40 kilometres. Once it runs down, the internal combustion engine is left to do it alone. The car does continue to function as a classic hybrid, so it can move around and possibly cruise without the engine, but it doesn’t have full power and in practice becomes a classic petrol hatchback with a consumption of between seven and eight litres, which pulls a ballast load in the form of a dead battery and electric drive.
The sophistication and maturity of the new 308’s systems is great, the displays are legible even in sunny weather and the fuel consumption is paper-thin. For me, the minor shortcoming may be less space, but that’s solved by the extended version of the 308 SW. In this case, it will be a full-size family car without the necessary compromises.
The price tag in full equipment with extras may be around €50 thousand, but for that price you get everything you need from a family car. Plus a few extras that will only improve your driving and your life in it. Among hybrids, such a price is perfectly defensible, and in the new 308, you’ll find plenty of people turning up behind you…