With an on-the-road price of £18,645, the Peugeot 308 1.2 e-THP 130 Allure has the potential to be the family hatchback bargain of the century. But what's that new 1.2-litre engine like, and has Peugeot finally sorted out it's build quality problems? Let's find out.
The new Peugeot 308 is very different in design to the old model, and for the better - the previous model had a face akin to a frog but this new model looks very classy indeed with LED daytime running lights, a chrome front grill that extends to the fog lights, chrome door handles, and sweet lines running through the body work. Peugeot has done a great job at creating a family hatchback that looks the part.
Allure trim benefits from 17-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic glass roof, and LED daytime running lights as standard. These extra touches give the 308 considerable road presence and make it more than a match for a Volkswagen Golf in the car park.
The Peugeot 308 I've been driving is fitted with the smallest capacity engine in the range, a 1.2-litre e-THP. This is a three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that is designed to offer strong low-end performance and good economy. The engine has a nice sound to it and it works well combined with the standard six-speed manual gearbox, which has well-spaced ratios to ensure a smooth, effortless, and pleasurable drive.
The driving experience is largely dominated by that engine, though. It feels like a much bigger engine than it really is, with an official power figure of 128 bhp and 170 lb /ft of torque. Because it has a small turbo, the engine pulls extremely well from low in the rev range and the power stays consistent until 5,000 rpm, at which point it can begin to feel a little subdued. Work your way through the gears, though, and you can make swift - if not quick - progress.
On the motorway and on roads with a poor surface the 308 feels very grown up indeed. Road and wind noise doesn't really occur until you're over 70 mph and the engine always sounds hushed in a higher gear, which adds to the refinement. Up front, visibility is excellent and it's super easy to find the perfect driving position because the 308 has a multi-adjustable steering wheel (which is really rather small, too, which gives the 308 something of a sporty appeal).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, inside the Peugeot 308 is not as premium as the outside would suggest. The dashboard, door sills, and centre console are all hard plastic and the switchgear and controls lack the weighted feel you might find in a Volkswagen Golf. Also, little things such as a rubber lined glove box and grippy cup holders and non-existent.
Still, the steering wheel is nicely finished in leather as is the gear trim, which helps to boost the quality from an aesthetic point of view. Even with almost top of the range Allure trim, leather seats are a £1,500 option though, and I think Peugeot missed a trick by not including them as standard in this spec.
The centre console is well designed too, with hardly any buttons present to reduce the minimalist feel of it. In Allure trim, you get satellite navigation as standard, and this dominates the centre console.
Small turbocharged petrol engines still can't quite match the economy of small turbocharged diesel engines, but they're getting darn close, and they certainly offer a more pleasurable and flexible driving experience.
The Peugeot 308 I've been driving, the 308 1.2 e-THP 130 Allure, will return 61.4 miles per gallon on a combined cycle according to Peugeot with a CO2 rating if 107 g /km, which puts it in tax band B with an annual cost of £20. Not bad for a family runabout.
During my tests I average 57.6 miles per gallon. My testing was 250 miles all in with a mix of country roads, motorways, and town traffic.
Trim and equipment
Allure trim sits behind only Feline in the Peugeot pecking order. Standard equipment on this model includes touchscreen satellite navigation, Bluetooth with hands-free, climate control, cruise control, power folding heated mirrors, and front and rear parking sensors.
I found the satellite navigation to be helpful and accurate and also responsive to use. Cruise control is easy to set and the Bluetooth hands-free system automatically pairs with your device.
There is a lot to like about this particular Peugeot 308. I think it looks fantastic thanks to 17-inch alloys and LED daytime lights, and I also think it's generously equipped with everything a family will need to have a pleasant journey. I was surprised by the eagerness of the 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine which puts up good performance figures and I was also surprised at the efficiency of the thing.
The drawback of the 308 is interior quality. Peugeot have done a great job with the outside of the car and I do think that they have only done half a job on the inside. The steering wheel, whilst stylish, is frankly too small in a car like this and the dashboard is not on the same level as a Ford Focus, let alone a Golf in terms of quality.
Still, the 308 Allure is a cheap car. It certainly doesn't look it, but it's true colours start to show once you spend some time in it.
Overall, the 308 comes recommended by me as a family hatchback. If you want lots of equipment and a stylish design in your next car and you're not fussed about quality I say go for it.