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First Drive

First Drive: Peugeot 308 PHEV

Peugeot 308 Allure Hybrid 180
The story: A long-standing fleet favourite, Peugeot hopes to build on the 308’s historical success with an all new car packed with tech and choice of powertrains.
Category:Lower medium
Key rival:Vauxhall Astra
On sale:Now

It’s a funny car, the Peugeot 308. If you were asked to name the big hitters in the family hatchback sector, the chances are that you’d probably be quite far down the list before you got to the French hatch.

But in reality, the Peugeot has always quietly gone about its business, doing its job, being popular with real-world drivers without taking too much of the limelight. The 308 took the 2014 Car of the Year award and more than 1.3 million have left showrooms across Europe with 70% of those sold in the UK going to company car drivers.

First Drive - October 2021 - Peugeot 308 PHEV - Image 1This latest-generation 308 might not be able to stay out of the limelight for long though. For the first time, the 308 will be available with petrol and diesel engines and not one, but two plug-in hybrid drivetrains. Furthermore, similar to the smaller 208, come 2023 there will be a fully electric version too, meaning four different types of power are available in the same hatchback or SW estate bodystyles.

And all that’s before you’ve even got to the Peugeot’s stunning new looks. Having adopted the same ‘sabre-tooth’-style front LED lights, the new 308 gets a similar family look to the 208 and 508 and is no worse for it. Yes, the overall styling may be a little conventional at first sight, but look deeper into the details with the bulging rear wheel arches and the narrow rear LED lights and there’s little doubt that it’s a smart-looking car.

In fact, it’s smart full stop. Yes, that full BEV version might be still two years away, but offering two plug-in hybrid models is a clever move from Peugeot, enabling greater access into the technology for drivers new to the PHEV powertrains.

First Drive - October 2021 - Peugeot 308 PHEV - Image 4The more popular will be this 180bhp version combining a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 12.4kWh battery for 25g/km emissions and a 37-mile all-electric range. The second version is the flagship 225bhp with a more powerful petrol engine, but 27g/km and a 36-mile range. Both have a BiK rate of just 11 per cent.

Although Peugeot’s initial estimate is for the PHEV models to account for just a fifth of 308 sales (with diesel-engined models taking 30%), its past experience with the 3008 is that the popularity of the PHEV tech will soon entice more buyers.

That’s easy to understand when you climb behind the wheel. The latest iteration of Peugeot’s i-cockpit interior features an under-sized steering wheel with a 3D digital display screen in front of the driver and a large 10in screen central in the dashboard with real and virtual button controls. It looks busy but works well.

On the road the 308 benefits from sharp, direct steering and a creditable lack of body roll through corners. It could do with more feel through the steering wheel to really appeal to enthusiast drivers, but there’s a lot here to like. The transition between petrol and battery power works smoothly, too.

So the 308 is good to drive and good to look at, while being packed with some excellent technology and offering buyers a choice between conventional engines and plug-in hybrids in the same car. The old 308 might have been funny, but now the joke will be on any rival under-estimating the potential of this excellent new model.


nat barnes

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The verdict

While the 308 was popular with company car drivers before, this new model is better than ever and offers a wider choice of electrified models.