Bold styling and PHEV for new Peugeot 308

  • Peugeot's latest VW Golf challenger unveiled
  • Available in petrol, diesel and hybrid forms
  • But electric version should be following later

Peugeot 308 (2021) front view

Peugeot has revealed its next-generation 308 hatchback, and with it a bold new brand identity. It's larger and more fuel-efficient than before, with hybrid options as well as a radical new-generation of tablet-inspired infotainment inside.

The 308’s styling is handsome but predictable: the LED fangs, shiny grille accents and rear claw lamp details are familiar from other Peugeots. The profile is also remarkably faithful to the outgoing car’s.

It needs to be good – not only is the traditional family hatchback under attack from similarly-sized SUVs, but the best cars it's going to be up against are very good indeed. Leading the way are the Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf, but also the excellent Ford Focus, SEAT Leon, Kia Ceed and Hyundai i30 – making a mark in this crowd is going to be difficult. But at least you can't accuse the new 308 of being boring looking and not standing out.

> Revealed: Best new cars to look forward to in 2021

What's it like inside?

There's an all-new infotainment system, called i-Connect. Peugeot is the latest manufacturer to adopt a ‘tile’ approach on the standard 10-inch central touchscreen, where drivers can choose their favourite widgets to customise different pages. The safety-conscious will be disappointed that the screen has swapped places with the air vents and sits lower, but Peugeot says that’s to make it more accessible.

Beneath the screen, there’s a panel of digital ‘i-toggle’ switches which provide a short-cut to the driver’s most valued functions, such as favourite radio station, telephone contact, navigation destination, air-con settings. Physical blower and temperature buttons are absent, though there are switches for demisting the glass screens, air recirculation and calling up the digital climate controls.

Up to eight driver’s profiles and infotainment settings can be established, and two ‘phones linked simultaneously and wirelessly. And Peugeot is introducing its voice control concept – ‘Okay Peugeot’. If that fails, use three fingers to press the screen, and a list of app widgets will appear.

Peugeot 308 (2021) interior view

What engines are available?

The engine line-up comprises the tried and trusted 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol, and the 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel. The petrol engine produces 110hp or 130hp, with the latter power output the same as the diesel’s. There’s a choice of six-speed manual, or eight-speed auto on the PureTech 130 petrol.

The CO2 emissions will start at 117g/km. That’s a 4g/km drop compared with the outgoing diesel engine. No official figures yet, with the launch not until the second half of the year. And they should get better in time: 48-volt mild hybrid assistance is in the pipeline. 

There are two front-wheel drive plug-in hybrids to pick from, badged Hybrid 225 or Hybrid 180. In either case the combustion engine is a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol, producing either 150hp or 180hp, and paired with an 81kW electric motor, sandwiched between the engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The Hybrid 225 offers 26g/km of CO2 and 36 miles of electric range – lop off a gramme and add a km to get the Hybrid 180’s marginally more flattering figures. Both systems are fed by a 12.4kWh lithium-ion battery, which takes just under 2 hours to charge from a 7kW wallbox, or roughly seven hours from a domestic plug.

Updated driver assistance systems

Peugeot has installed the latest driver assistance systems in the 308. Drive Assist 2.0 suggests lane changes for overtakes between 43mph and motorway speeds, keeps in line with changing speed limits and can throttle back your speed in curves if it senses the 308 is travelling too fast. These are all in addition to the usual assisted cruising stop/go and lane assist functions.

Other Peugeot upgrades include blindspot monitoring for up to 75m backwards and 360-degree parking assistance from four cameras. Plus from other Peugeots it carries over proximity sensing unlocking, Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and automated course correction if you veer towards the verge.    

How big is it?

Peugeot 308 (2021) grille and badge

It's fairly familiar looking, but look closer and there are many changes. The windscreen is steeper and set further for a sleeker look, while the 16-18-inch wheels are pushed towards the corners of the car. This boosts rear space (particularly kneeroom), and accounts for half of the 110mm increase in vehicle length to 4,367mm overall.

The boot has a generous 412 litres of capacity, though this dips to a still competitive 361 litres on hybrid models. Oh, and that distinctive launch colour is Olivine Green, by the way – six other shades will be available. But there’s no mention of that two-tone roof business that livens up many a configurator.

Will there be an electric version?

According to Peugeot, there will be a pure electric version: engineers have upgraded the group’s EMP2 car platform to accommodate big battery packs. ‘We have a road map that will introduce mild hybrid engines and battery electric [power] in the 308,’ confirms Peugeot engineer Jerome Micheron.

It’s an important car for Peugeot, as it seeks to roll-out larger EVs than today’s e-208 supermini and e-2008 compact SUV.

What this means for you

The new hatchback goes on UK sale towards the end of the year, with a likely price starting from £22,000, with an SW estate to follow, and power from petrol, diesel and hybrid engines. So there's clearly a version for most people – especially those who don't want to go the whole hog and go for a 3008 SUV.

It's also a good option for those looking for a plug-in hybrid hatchback, as currently there aren't too many options – with the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia leading the way in that department, as well as Renault's aging-but-still competent Megane.

It will be interesting to see if the sleeker infotainment set-up is going to work as well as Peugeot promises – over-dependence on touchscreens to control various systems can be a real distraction for drivers.

We'll be among the first to drive the new Peugeot 308 – stay tuned to find out how it compares with some very strong rivals

Peugeot 308 (2021) rear view

Further reading

> Best family cars 2021
> Peugeot 3008 review

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