Peugeot 308: Wave goodbye, say hello

  • Petrol-engined hatch has left the Parkers fleet
  • Replaced by a diesel-powered SW estate
  • Handover day wasn’t incident free

After four months and a tad over 5,500 miles, Parkers’ long-term Peugeot 308 has been replaced by… erm, a Peugeot 308.

Where once a Rich Oak (read ‘brown’) 1.2-litre e-THP 130 petrol hatchback resided in the work car park, its place has been usurped by a Tornado Grey (that’s brownish-grey) 2.0-litre BlueHDi 150 diesel SW estate.

As handover days go, this one got off to a dismal start. Arriving at work early I decided to get the Peugeot washed and brim the tank with unleaded before the delivery guy came to do the swap. Unfortunately in the stop-start driving that dominated the two-mile trudge to the filling station, a van driver managed to roll back into the 308’s front bumper. Despite the loud crunch, the merest of abrasions to the front bumper confirmed that, Monty Python-style, ‘tis but a scratch.

Part of the idea of running the petrol-engined 308 was to see how realistic a proposition it was to drive one of the new wave of smaller, three-cylinder, turbocharged motors was for someone covering a considerable amount of miles.

Not only was the 308 subjected to many a short, petrol-favouring visit to Lincoln, it also regularly soaked up 76-mile each-way commutes to the office and frequent 340-mile round trips from the hillier parts of Lincolnshire – where I live was once described on Radio 4 as a limestone escarpment, so it’s not all flat – to Heathrow and back. The latter ones are definitely the sort of journeys that are better-suited to diesels.

Regardless of where I drove, the Peugeot’s trip computer resolutely stuck at 41.4mpg average, slightly more ambitious than the actual fuel efficiency over the time it’s been with us of 40.2mpg.

For a spacious five-seater family hatchback with 128bhp at your right foot’s disposal, it doesn’t sound unreasonable, but it’s considerably short of the 58.9mpg average figure the same engine and six-speed manual gearbox combination achieves in the official fuel consumption test.

As smooth and eager as the turbocharged triple is, covering the sort of mileage I do on a daily basis, one of the diesel engines makes more sense in overall economy, but remember the price premium you pay for a diesel car could take a long-time to overcome with savings at the pump.

The 308 has much else to commend it too, it’s a car that has talents and qualities to be a credible alternative to the likes of Ford’s Focus and Volkswagen’s Golf, among many others in this fiercely competitive market sector.

Chief among the 308’s arsenal of merits is comfort: everything about the car seems to have been designed to keep you calm and unruffled, which is a welcome antidote to hard-riding sports car wannabes that have you Googling for osteopaths who do a sideline in replacing lost fillings.

Regardless of speed, the suspension absorbs all manner of roughened road surfaces with aplomb (although from road tests we know the smaller 16-inch wheels do so even better), the leather and Alcantara upholstered seats have ample support and plenty of space around them, while the adjustable front armrest can be positioned perfectly.

Anyone who went for a ride in the 308 commented on the minimalist nature of the dashboard, with its seven-inch touchscreen and a massive reduction in the number of physical buttons you’d normally find in a car such as this one in range-topping (at the time) Feline specification.

Once you’ve Bluetoothed up your phone, set the climate control to ‘auto’ and programmed in your DAB radio stations, it’s an easy car to live with and requires little screen prodding. Even the weighting of the steering, pedals and gear lever feel light and promote ease of use, perhaps too much so for keener drivers.

Gripes? Well, they’re few in number. Taller adults may find sitting in the rear is fine for legroom but the roof-lining surrounding the fixed glass roof impinges on headroom and there’s a lack of genuinely good storage space too. One cup holder in the front and a glovebox so small that even holding a pair of gloves would be a challenge worthy of the Krypton Factor really didn’t impress.

Familiarity with the system didn’t make the (partially) adaptive cruise control any easier to live with either, but I’ll have more time to try and drive around it as the replacement 308 SW has it too. I’ll explore more about the SW estate in the next long-term update which has a few optional extras on top of its Feline trim.

If you’re in the market for a mid-sized, family-friendly hatchback, this one has much to commend it: comfortable, spacious, well-built, refined and a genuine challenger for best-in-class honours.

Total mileage: 6,782 miles (started at 1,256)
Average mpg
: 40.2mpg