TEST – In preview, Le Figaro has slipped behind the wheel of pre-production models of the next Peugeot 308. A conclusive experience.
It is a sign that does not deceive. Tested in the streets, around Mulhouse, where it will be produced and where the first test of development prototypes led us, the new 308 arouses enthusiastic reactions. It must be said that Peugeot has given itself the means to achieve its ambitions, greatly modifying the group’s EMP2 platform to approximate the morphology of the German references in the segment.
Plunging nose, long hood, like that of sports cars, windshield more inclined and set back by 100 mm, silhouette lengthened by 110 mm including 55 mm at the level of the wheelbase, roof lowered by 20 mm and marked shoulder: the new Compact sedan from Franche-Comté unashamedly invites itself into the big leagues, that of German premium players.
Under exacerbated features that have an air of déjà vu and an enlarged grille that inaugurates the new emblem of the brand, still in the effigy of the lion, the 308 gains in presence and elegance. On this last point, the SW station wagon version that we have already been able to discover raises the debate even more. We can never regret enough that these lines, which have reached a beautiful maturity, are not expressed through the silhouette of a coupe. The low volumes would no longer justify the investment.
While waiting for its arrival in dealerships, next October, the 308 makes a strong impression on the road and some motorists do not hesitate to let us pass to observe the stern and the light signature. Unique, it is based on three oblique red lines designed as claws. As with Ferrari, which has been a source of inspiration for Peugeot design for sixty years, the GT versions are even entitled to the lion’s head crest on the front fenders. On arrival, the designers’ work is rewarded with an aerodynamic Cx of 0.28, in line with the 308’s mission to carry the major part of the efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of the French brands of the Stellantis group.
Not content with unveiling the brand’s new logo, the 308 inaugurates a new two-part dashboard. The view from the cabin immediately evokes the standing of the best Germans and the efforts that Peugeot says it has made to match the benchmarks do indeed seem to be paying off. Signature of the brand, the small flattened steering wheel is still present and it is combined with digital instrumentation based on a 10-inch panel. It is customizable and switches to 3D with the two highest finishes (GT and GT Pack). Once again, the dated typography tempers the modernism of the facilities.
In the center, the standard 10-inch touchscreen is oriented towards the driver and placed lower than the instrument cluster for easy reach. It seems to float in the dashboard, creating bevelled areas that complicate the whole. Navigation on the screen appears simplified thanks to the presence of customizable shortcut keys. Likewise, pressing three fingers on the screen brings up the application wall. A lot of storage has been fitted and, with models equipped with the 8-speed automatic transmission, there is immense space in the central tunnel.
The driving position can, by the play of the settings, be lower than on the previous model, but some riders will be obliged to modify their usual settings. The instrumentation will be obscured if the seat is set in the low position and the steering wheel in the high position. Roominess progresses naturally, especially at the rear, but the trunk volume decreases slightly to 412 liters due to the lowering of the roof line. On the equipment side, the 308 is full of electronic driving assistance technologies. It can quickly become overwhelming.
For this first test, Peugeot has reserved a complete program for us. We start with the 225 hp plug-in hybrid version, a first for the 308. Like the 508 Hybrid, it combines the 180 hp 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine with a 110 hp electric machine. First observation: the energy exchanges are perfectly transparent and the jolts of regenerative braking have been almost annihilated. By its performance and its electric autonomy of nearly 60 km which allows it to be approved for 27 g of CO2 (1.2 l / 100 km), the 225 hp sets the benchmark for the range. But it will be necessary to accommodate a high weight (1633 kg) and a volume of trunk amputated of the double bottom (51 liters) in order to store the mode 2 charging cable delivered as standard. As an option, it will be possible to access the 7.4 kW charger.
We were also enthusiastic about a test run at the wheel of the 130 hp petrol version. Descending from the plug-in hybrid, it feels like driving a very light and a little more agile car. Pleasant to handle, the six-speed manual transmission suffers from a long staging. The extension of the gears serves consumption, announced at 5.5 l / 100 km. In all cases, the 308 has moved the cursor towards comfort, without degrading efficiency. The suspension is more considerate, sometimes at the cost of amplified body movements on a bumpy road.
Confused, Peugeot would he have found the martingale? Building on the 2008 and 3008 SUVs, after an exciting first contact, the new 308 sedan seems well-equipped to shake up the German market benchmarks.
Engines: 4-cylinder 1.6 liter turbo petrol 180 hp + 1 electric motor 110 hp (cumulative power: 225 hp)
Torque: 360 Nm (cumulative)
Transmission: traction, auto. 8 reports
Dimensions: 4,367 × 1,852 × 1,441 mm
Safe: 361 liters
Weight: 1,633 kg
Performance (0 to 100 km / h): 7.5 seconds
Speed: 235 km / h
Consumption (EU): 1.2 l / 100 km
CO emissions2: 27 g / km
Price: 43,300 €