I’d like to begin this review by stating a fact: Peugeot – like its French neighbours Citroën and Renault – makes good cars. Despite this, though, it’s never really been able to topple the perceived segment leaders on a blow-by-blow basis.
While this new 308 GT-Line goes up against models from Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia and Ford, the main car it’ll need to prove itself against is the all-mighty VW Golf 7 Highline. And it really should have what it takes – it was the 2014 European Car of the Year, after all.
What can I expect from the 308?
Surprisingly, the new 308 is smaller than its predecessor. You’d never care, though – it’s easily the best-looking hatch among its peers. From its jewel-like LED headlights and chrome grille to the truncated rear, again with LED light clusters, the tidy design is ultra modern yet bound to age well.
Interior space is also not affected by the smaller exterior dimensions. Not in front, anyway, as the rear is a bit snug – but not uncomfortably so.
The centrepiece of the 308’s high-quality interior is the minimalist dashboard dominated by its 9,7-inch touch-screen system – which controls pretty much everything that would conventionally have a button or knob. Right ahead of the driver is Peugeot’s now familiar “head up” instrument cluster; mounted atop the dashboard rather than in it.
Combined with the 308’s delightful, small leather-wrapped steering wheel, the driver has a clear view of all the gauges practically in line of sight. Some might find it odd at first, but it adds extra character to the 308’s cockpit and I like the concept.
Is it loaded with lots of safety features and other nice toys?
Let’s put it this way: the only option on the 308 GT-Line’s spec sheet is satellite navigation, and the only gadgets one might expect in a car of this price point that aren’t offered (that I could think of) are electric seat adjustment and a reversing camera.
That said, those semi-leather sports seats do feature a lumbar massage function and have to be the best looking seats to ever feature as standard in a run-of-the-mill family hatchback.
Considering the fitment of an electric parking brake one would have expected better storage space; yet only one cup holder is fitted – located within a storage tray. The cubby is uselessly small too … the designers really could’ve put more effort into creating useable storage space.
Anyway, that parking brake engages and disengages automatically, and is accompanied by a hill-hold system, anti-lock braking with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist. Six airbags are fitted, as is stability control.
What’s it like from behind the wheel?
The 96 kW/230 Nm, 1,2-litre, three-cylinder engine is smooth and free-revving. It accelerates the GT-Line to 100 km/h in 9,6 seconds and in-gear overtaking acceleration is more than adequate. (Another accolade for Peugeot; this Turbo PureTech engine has been named 2015 International Engine of the Year.)
It is, however, paired to a notch six-speed gearbox that is operated by a clutch with a ridiculously long pedal travel. I’m ashamed to admit that after a week I hadn’t acclimatised to the set up.
Despite the fitment of 225-section 17-inch tyres – and while I realise this isn’t the sporting GT model – front-end grip is limited and the handling left me disappointed. However, the ride is comfortable, quiet and composed.
Will it be kind to my pocket?
Peugeot’s three-year/100 000 km warranty and five-year/60 000 km full maintenance plan are included in the R329 900 purchase price. Combined with the great features list and Peugeot’s combined cycle fuel-consumption claim of just 4,8 l/100 km, this makes the 308 a very attractive proposition.
Should I buy one, or look around?
The all-new 308 GT-Line has everything it needs to be a great car and to tackle the all-mighty Golf. Indeed, if you ignore its stupid clutch, clunky gear change and light front-end grip you really won’t be disappointed – but these resign it to simple “good car” status in my books.
I struggled to gel with the car – the package just isn’t as complete as it deserves to be. High hopes, then, that the GT model will bring to light the full depths of this car’s potential.
Cyberstoep rating: 7/10
I’m Cyberstoep’s resident (self-appointed) motoring fanatic. My life has always revolved around anything with wheels and an engine. It doesn’t matter if its an old banger, the latest hot-hatch or a fancy 4×4 – any excuse is a good excuse to take it for a cruise … Read more