Peugeot 308 HDi 2008 Review

Peugeot 308 HDi 2008 Review

Peugeot 308 HDi 2008 fq

I’ve been telling people I’m driving a 308 hoping they’ll think it’s a Ferrari 308, but it’s unlikely. Ferrari had a few models that featured a zero as the middle number (the 206 for example), but now Peugeot has an exclusive monopoly on that way of naming cars.

One thing that Ferrari owners will be jealous of is the 308’s frugality (and probably reliability). The 1.6-litre version of the 308 has just set a fuel economy record for driving around Australia in the hands of John and Helen Taylor. I wonder about the reasons for doing this in the same way I wonder if Nandor Tanczos’s hair is prehensile like a monkey’s tail because by far the best way to travel around Australia is to fly between the bits that aren’t vast barren expanses of orange dust and thorny plants.

I’m not here to set fuel economy records though because I’ve got the 2-litre HDi (turbo-diesel) with a 6-speed Tiptronic auto and a tempting ‘S’ button for Sport mode, which changes down earlier and up later.

This gives the 308 plenty of wallop. It’s not so much the power (100kW), but the torque (320Nm) that gets you going quickly. Fortunately the 308 has 215/55R16 wheels and well-calibrated traction control otherwise vaporised tyres would be on the menu. Tempting as it is to use this I still managed 7.1l/100km (against a quoted 6.8 from Peugeot) without it, and somewhere in the high 8-second range with it.

The panoramic glass roof has all the benefits of a convertible without the sunburned forehead and bad hair. I will guarantee that while travelling around Australia the Taylors (if they had had it) would have kept the sunroof’s electric blind firmly closed because in strong sun it’s significantly warmer, and you don’t want to be using the air conditioning when trying to sip the diesel frugally. I personally loved the roof, though, and the enormous Mitsubishi Pajero I swapped it for felt positively claustrophobic in comparison.

In the 407 HDi we tested last year, we found that it was a good car but with an interior where elements fought against one another. This is not the case in the 308. The interior flows nicely and the white-faced dials integrate with the whole understated experience, rather than feeling a bit ‘try-hard’ like they do in the 407, where they clash with the über-modern stereo.

French cars are often quirky, but this Peugeot is much less so than others. Of course, it’s still French — the cigarette lighter is easier to reach than the gear knob — but it does things in a very orderly Japanese way.

An example of the quirkiness is the indicator. While most cars have a click-clack when the indicator is activated, the Peugeot has a two-tone electronic blip — very Atari. Someone must have spent hours determining the pitch.

While it may be French, the inside has a positively marsupial feel about it. As well as the included cargo net in the boot which makes a nice pouch, there’s a very clever hidden compartment in the parcel shelf that hinges either from the front or the back, and a very unexpected sunglasses compartment where the grab handle usually is.

Seats are stylish and comfortable with metallic grey inserts and unlike some Peugeots it’s easy to get a comfortable driving position straight away. In an age of multifunction steering wheels the Peugeot’s looks naked in comparison. Controls for the audio and cruise control are on stubby European-style wands on the steering column.

An athermic acoustically laminated front windscreen helps keep out the hot sun as well as deaden the diesel drone (which is sufficiently refined, but suffered from a bit of turbo whine or resonance in our test car at certain speeds). The engine has a FAP (particle filter) so exhaust particle emissions are significantly reduced.

Safety features haven’t been skimped upon. Seven airbags and all the acronyms under the sun for driver aids contribute to a five-star Euro NCAP

The 308 is well-proportioned and athletic from the rear, but move around to the front and something’s not quite right. It’s like an overly fragranced French beauty — you catch a glimpse from a distance, the briefest whiff, and you’re drawn to her, but get up really close and your eyes water. It’s the space below the droopy nose just doesn’t quite work close up. But everything else about the car is extremely good — handling, features and fuel economy. This is the best Peugeot we’ve driven.

Click through to the next page for the full specification of the Peugeot 308 HDi

Price: from $42,990

What we like

  • It’s the best Peugeot we’ve driven
  • Glass roof
  • Frugal on the open road

What we don’t like

  • Nose styling doesn’t work close up
  • At about 95kph there’s a harmonic vibration in the engine/turbo (could just have been our test car)

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Peugeot 308 HDi 2008 fq

I’ve been telling people I’m driving a 308 hoping they’ll think it’s a Ferrari 308, but it’s unlikely. Ferrari had a few models that featured a zero as the middle number (the 206 for example), but now Peugeot has an exclusive monopoly on that way of naming cars.

One thing that Ferrari owners will be jealous of is the 308’s frugality (and probably reliability). The 1.6-litre version of the 308 has just set a fuel economy record for driving around Australia in the hands of John and Helen Taylor. I wonder about the reasons for doing this in the same way I wonder if Nandor Tanczos’s hair is prehensile like a monkey’s tail because by far the best way to travel around Australia is to fly between the bits that aren’t vast barren expanses of orange dust and thorny plants.

I’m not here to set fuel economy records though because I’ve got the 2-litre HDi (turbo-diesel) with a 6-speed Tiptronic auto and a tempting ‘S’ button for Sport mode, which changes down earlier and up later.

This gives the 308 plenty of wallop. It’s not so much the power (100kW), but the torque (320Nm) that gets you going quickly. Fortunately the 308 has 215/55R16 wheels and well-calibrated traction control otherwise vaporised tyres would be on the menu. Tempting as it is to use this I still managed 7.1l/100km (against a quoted 6.8 from Peugeot) without it, and somewhere in the high 8-second range with it.

The panoramic glass roof has all the benefits of a convertible without the sunburned forehead and bad hair. I will guarantee that while travelling around Australia the Taylors (if they had had it) would have kept the sunroof’s electric blind firmly closed because in strong sun it’s significantly warmer, and you don’t want to be using the air conditioning when trying to sip the diesel frugally. I personally loved the roof, though, and the enormous Mitsubishi Pajero I swapped it for felt positively claustrophobic in comparison.

In the 407 HDi we tested last year, we found that it was a good car but with an interior where elements fought against one another. This is not the case in the 308. The interior flows nicely and the white-faced dials integrate with the whole understated experience, rather than feeling a bit ‘try-hard’ like they do in the 407, where they clash with the über-modern stereo.

French cars are often quirky, but this Peugeot is much less so than others. Of course, it’s still French — the cigarette lighter is easier to reach than the gear knob — but it does things in a very orderly Japanese way.

An example of the quirkiness is the indicator. While most cars have a click-clack when the indicator is activated, the Peugeot has a two-tone electronic blip — very Atari. Someone must have spent hours determining the pitch.

While it may be French, the inside has a positively marsupial feel about it. As well as the included cargo net in the boot which makes a nice pouch, there’s a very clever hidden compartment in the parcel shelf that hinges either from the front or the back, and a very unexpected sunglasses compartment where the grab handle usually is.

Seats are stylish and comfortable with metallic grey inserts and unlike some Peugeots it’s easy to get a comfortable driving position straight away. In an age of multifunction steering wheels the Peugeot’s looks naked in comparison. Controls for the audio and cruise control are on stubby European-style wands on the steering column.

An athermic acoustically laminated front windscreen helps keep out the hot sun as well as deaden the diesel drone (which is sufficiently refined, but suffered from a bit of turbo whine or resonance in our test car at certain speeds). The engine has a FAP (particle filter) so exhaust particle emissions are significantly reduced.

Safety features haven’t been skimped upon. Seven airbags and all the acronyms under the sun for driver aids contribute to a five-star Euro NCAP

The 308 is well-proportioned and athletic from the rear, but move around to the front and something’s not quite right. It’s like an overly fragranced French beauty — you catch a glimpse from a distance, the briefest whiff, and you’re drawn to her, but get up really close and your eyes water. It’s the space below the droopy nose just doesn’t quite work close up. But everything else about the car is extremely good — handling, features and fuel economy. This is the best Peugeot we’ve driven.

Click through to the next page for the full specification of the Peugeot 308 HDi

Price: from $42,990

What we like

  • It’s the best Peugeot we’ve driven
  • Glass roof
  • Frugal on the open road

What we don’t like

  • Nose styling doesn’t work close up
  • At about 95kph there’s a harmonic vibration in the engine/turbo (could just have been our test car)

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

« | »

Let us know what you think

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Road Tests

Silver Sponsors

Car and SUV Team

Richard-Edwards-2016Richard Edwards

Managing editor

linkedinphotoDarren Cottingham

Motoring writer

robertbarry-headRobert Barry

Chief reporter

Ian-Ferguson-6Ian Ferguson

Advertising Consultant

debDeborah Baxter

Operations Manager

RSS Latest News from Autotalk

RSS Latest News from Dieseltalk

Read previous post:
Now that the Indians own Jaguar and Land Rover, will there still be leather seats?

There's a bit of a cow-worship conundrum when it comes to Tata's ownership of Jaguar and Land Rover, as reported...

Close