The new Peugeot 308 1.2T GT Line spent a week at our offices and we got to grips with the current European Car of the Year.
You read correctly. The European Car of the Year title went to the Peugeot 308. How it managed to beat off trendsetter BMW i3 I do not know, but there has to be merit in selecting the Peugeot hatchback over everything else. Peugeot South Africa is paired with Citroen SA and the two brands are taking on the market as a combined force. Peugeot is targeting the premium market, while Citroen has a more budget-conscious market in its crosshairs, with its DS sub-brand also targeting more upmarket consumers.
Peugeot Pushing For PremiumThe Peugeot 308 is a smart-looking vehicle and you can see the brand is pushing hard into the premium segment. There's fancy daylight running lights as well as the Audi-esque sweeping indicators at the front, while the back makes do with a typically Peugeot neat rear. Unlike compatriots Renault that offer flamboyant styling that polarises opinions, Peugeot has played it safe and opted for an unassuming design.
Interior and SpecificationsIt's the interior of the Peugeot 308 where great things happen. The design is very minimalist, with a single touchscreen infotainment unit dominating proceedings. The traditional handbrake has disappeared and is replaced by an electronic parking brake button. Materials used in the cabin are either soft-touch plastics, leather or metal, and there's a premium feel about the place. The steering wheel has been pinched from the nimble Peugeot 208 GTI and at first glance, looks strangely small in comparison to other wheels.
One of the most eye-catching features is the instrumentation, where the rev counter moves in the opposite direction to a regular car's. Features are in abundance, especially in this top-spec GT Line. There are massage seats, USB/Aux/Bluetooth connectivity and park distance control front & back.
It's a shame the rear legroom is a little lacking as the cabin does feel light and spacious. Upon closer inspection, its the boot which, at 420L, is taking up the most space. The boot size can be expanded to 1228L, which is handy if you're wanting to shift something large such as a mountain bike. Compared to its rivals, the Peugeot 308 has a bigger boot.
French cars never skimp on safety and the Peugeot 308 is no exception. With six airbags (four in the entry level Active model), ESP, ABS, hill assist, tyre pressure sensors and ISOFIX mounts, the Peugeot 308 managed to score five stars in its 2013 EuroNCAP crash test.
Terrific EnginePeugeot has taken the downsizing trend seriously and underneath that bonnet is a 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 96 kW and 230 Nm, while the entry-level model makes do with 81 kW and 205 Nm. It's an energetic little motor, delivering good pull from low revs and thanks to a solid six-speed gearbox, endows it with a bit of a sporty nature. It's claimed to be light on fuel too, with a figure of 4.6L/100km, but in reality you should get about 7L/100km.
It's a nice drive too, even on South Africa's poor roads and on sporty 17-inch alloy wheels. There's a sorted chassis under there which gives great feedback, and the lightweight EMP2 platform means the car is about 140kg lighter than the previous model.
Summary and ConclusionHas a Peugeot product finally got it right and become a sensible purchase option in a brand-fussy market? We think so. The Peugeot 308 acquits itself well and as far as Peugeot products go, it's one of the brand's best. It offers near Germanic levels of build quality and a generous helping of gadgets and gizmos. If it were not for a poor Rand/Euro exchange rate, we'd see the Peugeot 308 come in a little cheaper.
At R330k, the Peugeot 308 is in pricey territory and more established brands like Volkswagen and to an extent, Audi, will offer premium brand prestige for not too dissimilar money. Still, with a European Car of the Year title under its belt, the Peugeot 308 deserves to do well.
Second OpinionThe Peugeot 308 deserves to do well, from the moment i stepped inside i was impressed with the step up in build quality and materials used. There's also a good engine and chassis underneath that will provide entertainment for the more enthusiastic driver. The touchscreen that handles absolutely every setting and feature on the car could do with being a bit more sensitive and faster as it can be sluggish navigating through the menus at times.-Ashley Oldfield
Price in South AfricaThe Peugeot 308 comes in two versions. Tested here is the 1.2T GT Line which retails for R329 900, which the lesser specced 1.2T Active costs R275 900. The vehicle comes with a three-year or 100 000km manufacturer's warranty, a five-year or 60 000km service plan, and a three-year or 100 000km roadside assistance package. Peugeot South Africa is trying its hardest to rectify its past service (or lack thereof) efforts and this includes a guaranteed loan car as well as a guaranteed buy back option.
We Like: Improved build quality, great engine, ride is excellent, generous specification
We don’t Like: Rear legroom is a little tight, touchscreen isn't as responsive as it should be
Also consider: Volkswagen Golf, Mazda3, Ford Focus, Audi A3