This is Peugeot’s all-new family hatchback: the 308. Yep, that’s right: Peugeot isn’t rolling over to the ‘309’ moniker, but don’t be fooled: the new 308’s design looks worlds apart from the off-the-pace outgoing car. Sticking with the same model names for all future cars will simplify the range for consumers, reckons Peugeot: it’s a demonstration of the fightback to rebuild the brand’s image (think Ford ditching the ‘Escort’ badge and sticking with ‘Focus’ instead).
The new 308 is 140kg lighter than before, more economical and gets a totally rethought cabin. It’ll be unveiled in the metal at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2013.
The Peugeot 308 actually looks pretty smart on the outside…
Compared to the lumpy old 308, the new car has smartened up its act, with neater two-piece front grilles and straight-edged side surfacing. The C-shaped taillight clusters are similar to the 208 supermini and 2008 crossover: the ‘lion claw’ details pay tribute to Peugeot’s rampant lion badge.
As a whole the new 308 looks more conservative than a UKIP tea party, but judging by the amount of VW Golfs and Audi A3s UK buyers lap up, design-by-light-under-bushel is giving the people what they want…
Is the new Peugeot 308 more radical underneath?
While the neat but nondescript styling isn’t a jaw-dropper, Peugeot has really gone to town underneath. the new 308 is, on average, 140kg lighter than the outgoing car, thanks to PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s new ‘EMP2’ platform. It’s an adaptable architecture that underpins the new Citroen Picasso and will see duty in most of Peugeot-Citroen’s future midsized models. Like the VW Group’s MQB platform, the modular skeleton saves weight and cuts production costs.
Engines will be shared with the 208 and 2008 crossover, albeit with a slight retune for improved economy figures. The petrol engine is a 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder, while there’ll also be two four-pot diesels. An eco-minded e-HDi model will join the range later, boasting an 85g/km CO2 output.
Hang on: are those pictures of a 208 interior?
Nope, you’re looking at the new 308’s cabin. Peugeot’s new family hatch has borrowed a few tricks from its supermini sister, like the downsized steering wheel and high-mounted instrument dials (here featuring an anticlockwise rev counter like CAR’s new Aston Martin DB9 long-termer). Designed to create more space in the cabin and make the car feel more agile, the tiny ‘wheel treatment has taken some vitriol for not catering to taller drivers, but Peugeot is sticking to its guns.
Another 208-style feature is the central touchscreen system for entertainment, vehicle settings and sat-nav. Though it helps declutter the cabin of the old 308’s fussy buttons (giving a minimalist Audi A3-apeing look inside), we hope the 308’s huge 9.7in screen is less clunky to use than the infuriating iPad-wannabe in CAR’s Peugeot 208 long-term test car.
Peugeot is making big claims about the new 308’s ‘premium materials and exceptional build quality’ too, as it fights for a dwindling market share in the face of stiff Korean and German opposition. Does the 308 look good enough to succeed? Add your thoughts in the comments below.
When can I buy a Peugeot 308?
The new 308 goes on sale in the UK in January 2014. Prices ‘will remain competitive’, says Peugeot, with only slight rises over the current 308 planned in line with inflation. Expect the entry-level models to start at £16,000.
Will there be a hot GTi version?
It’s being considering, but nothing’s signed off yet. Peugeot could easily drop the RCZ R concept’s 256bhp engine into the 308, punting the hot hatch straight into new Seat Leon Cupra and Vauxhall Astra VXR territory. However, Peugeot could opt for the enthusiast-appeasing ‘GT’ nameplate for the flagship 308 as it did in 2011, using the 208 GTi’s 197bhp mill.