The third iteration of the Peugeot 308 has just been unveiled. We were lucky enough to be able to approach him a few days before … Obviously, we will share it with you!
Let us take a step back. The first 308, unveiled in 2007, looked like this:
As the super villain Joker would say in The Dark Knight: “Either we die as a hero, or we live long enough to take on the role of the villain“… And we have to believe that Gérard Welter remained in charge of Peugeot styling a little too long: the optical graaaaaaaaandes and the enooooooooooorme grille pour into the caricature of the brand's previous compacts. This will not prevent our 308 from selling more than well, with 1,400,000 copies sold during its six years on the market. And suddenly, bang, the second generation arrives in 2013. And there, my children <3
The 308 II is the first production Peugeot to have been entirely designed by Gilles Vidal's teams and the resulting car takes up the codes of the SR1, this sublime concept car announcing the renewal of the brand's style: the body is soft, charismatic, elegant – I remember the allusion to the arched Italian costumes used so many times by the designer to illustrate the work of surfaces. You will understand: I love the style of this second 308. And I am clearly not the only one, since 1,500,000 copies have left the lines of Sochaux in an eight-year career. A nice car, therefore, and – the icing on the cake – of quality, since it will be crowned "Car of the Year" in 2014: replacing such a car is a challenge to say the least.
And hop, here we are at the beginning of March 2021 at the Peugeot design center. The cars are covered (apart from a few veterans of the 30x line, including a 307 described by the press officer as “almost youngtimer”) and the presentation is succinct: basically, the new 308 must embody the new philosophy of the brand whose new logo is the ambassador – more upscale, more technological, more modern. And the curtain rises. Ladies and gentlemen, here is the new Peugeot 308.
The dimensions ? 4.36 m long, i.e. 11 cm of flaps dedicated to half the lengthening of the wheelbase (+ 5.5 cm). The width is the same, but the car is lowered by 20 mm, or 1.44 m high. To speak a little technical, the design of the new 308 seems to me to be really dictated by the constraints: the soft nose at the front is there to please the insurers, and there is especially plenty of tips to please the aerodynamicists ( a large spoiler at the rear, sharp edges on the shields, etc.). For the rest, the front end becomes all the same damn massive, with a very wide grille adorned in its center with the new Peugeot lion. The fangs already seen on the 208, the 2008 and the 3008/5008 restyled are obviously part of the game and are accompanied by fine optics using LEDs throughout the range – to be noted that the GT versions, here in photos, are adorned with matrix technology and are refined a little further.
The sidewalls, on the other hand, remain generally simple with a line above each wheel (which, it is interesting to speak of it, remains at the same dimensions as the previous generation). At the rear, we also find hyper-thin optics linked by the now unavoidable black band, while the shield, damn imposing, changes to lacquered black and uses kinds of fake exhaust outlets that have always had me. a little left cold.
What do I think? I like it, without being overly excited. Let's just say the photos don't do it justice: when I analyze each shot, each curve separately, my impressions are average. The treatment of the grille seems to me less worked than on the restyled 3008/5008, where the patterns of the grille die in the body; here we have a big “black grille / body color bumper” demarcation that bothers me a bit. And big misunderstanding about the side skirts, which seem stupidly glued to the body … and which stop right in the middle of the rear door, leaving me wary to say the least. Looks like they've taken the part from the previous generation, with the shorter wheelbase … Still in profile, the overhangs still seem quite massive; I'm pretty sure the aerodynamics dictated the shape here, but the rendering isn't the lightest. And, as said above, the rear is still rather heavy.
But ! But, turning around and letting my eyes run over the body, I manage to find a certain charm in this Peugeot 308. I really like the 3/4 rear, very slender, and the many details that remind me of the concept. -car Fractal from 2015. And if you squint at the logo on the fenders, know that only the GT versions will be entitled to it.
I give you some pictures of the exterior before opening the doors:
So let's open the doors. What I remember from the presentation of the previous 308 is that everyone was amazed by the very dull and muffled sound of the doors closing. A noise obviously preserved with this third generation, and which is completely in line with Peugeot's wish: further progress in perceived quality. I think they have succeeded, especially with this very nice dashboard.
The i-Cockpit is obviously part of it, with the three fundamental elements present. The little steering wheel? It is reworked to integrate the cruise control controls and thus forget the commodo at the bottom left. The instrument cluster? Digital, with a call to 3D technology already seen on the 208. Note that the interface has been designed so that “basic” actions (change radio, call someone, navigation information, etc.) appear in “pop” -up ”directly into the instrument panel, so that the driver is as distracted as possible. As for the central screen, it benefits from a complete overhaul of its interface, and inherits … a second screen, separated into six customizable boxes: basically, you put the shortcuts you want. Call someone, set a specific temperature, land on your favorite radio, enter a specific destination into the GPS … It's up to you! For having handled the system quite briefly, I particularly appreciated the fluidity and speed of the interactions as well as the very understandable logic of the menus and submenus. A good point that will of course have to be retested in real conditions.
Note the presence of this arch at the level of the central console which accommodates, on the versions with automatic transmission, the gear control already seen on the new Citroën C4 or the last DS 4, as well as the driving mode selector. I couldn't see a copy with the manual transmission, but I was promised the arch would still be present, in a somewhat slimmer form; the lever will nestle in the cup holders.
In terms of roominess, I couldn't measure or really compare with the previous generation but, despite the longer wheelbase, I didn't particularly feel the space saving in the rear; likewise, I found the trunk a bit stingy. But maybe the hybrid versions pictured are underserved due to the location of the batteries?
Obviously, with so many screens and sophistication on board, the equipment could only go hand in hand. And it is: the smartphone duplication on the central screen does not require a wired connection; an “OK Peugeot” allows you to dictate your most twisted wishes to the car; a “Drive Assist 2.0” will be available a little later: in addition to the “usual” adaptive governors and lane-keeping systems, your 308 will be able to change lanes (almost) on its own, anticipate changes in speed limits and adapt its speed as a function of the curve of the approaching turn. Finally, I note with undisguised joy the arrival of an HD reversing camera and two others under each of the mirrors for a REAL 360 ° vision during maneuvers. What a relief to learn that the horrible, disastrously-defined system has been forgotten!
We still have to talk about engines. This new Peugeot 308 is based on an evolution of the well-known (and appreciated) EMP2 platform and therefore receives petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines. In detail, we can take advantage of the 308 with, at the choice, a 1.2L PureTech petrol of 110 (BVM) and 130 (BVM & BVA8) ch, of a 1.5L BlueHDi diesel of 130 ch, here also in manual gearbox or automatic. Peugeot finally offers two hybrids of 180 and 225 hp, powered by a PureTech of 150 and 180 hp respectively, to which must be added in both cases an electric motor of 81 kW (~ 110 hp) powered by a 12.4 kWh battery, promising up to 60 km in all electric. It should be noted here that, regardless of the engine, the 308 remains a traction. The question of a hybrid all-wheel drive (as can be seen from the 508 PSE) has been asked, but is clearly out of place.
There you have it, that's about all I could tell you about this new Peugeot 308. The car will arrive in the second half of 2021 at prices still unknown, but which we imagine generally close to those of a Golf. Ah, and for fans of the station wagon: a SW version is announced and should not be too long in showing its nose. We will keep you informed !
Photo credits: Jean-Baptiste Passieux
I'm on Twitter: @JBPssx