2008 Peugeot 308 Review

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2008 Peugeot 308 XTE HDi & XSE Turbo Review & Road Test

“It’s not often that you find a car which is all things to all people, the Peugeot 308 is one of those cars”

- By Alborz Fallah & Anthony Crawford

Models Driven:

  • 2008 Peugeot 308 XSE 1.6-litre turbo petrol with 5-speed manual
  • 2008 Peugeot 308 XTE 2.0-litre diesel HDi with 6-speed ‘Tiptronic’ gearbox

Recommended Retail Price: $30,590 for mid-range petrol and $37,990 for the range topping diesel. You can get into a 308 XS from $25,990.

Options fitted to XTE diesel:

  • 18” Lincancubar alloys: $600 – fitted with superb Pirelli PZERO NERO tyres: one of the ten best options of the year!
  • Knee airbag: $250 on top of six standard airbags across the 308 range – It’s a pity Peugeot didn’t include this on this top spec car
  • Leather trim: $2,900 – whilst leather is nice (and these are heated), I would not be spending another $3000 for the privilege, as you still have that problem of leather being too hot in summer and too cold in winter. You also might expect leather to be standard kit on a top spec variant.

Great looks, fuel economy for diesel, great handling, interior refinement.

5-speed manual in petrol, why buy the petrol over the diesel?

CarAdvice rating: (3.00) -XSE Petrol Turbo

CarAdvice rating: (4.50) -XTE HDi Diesel

Peugeot 308 XSE 1.6-litre turbo petrol with 5-speed manual - Alborz

You might have noticed all the Peugeot advertising everywhere. From TV to billboards to shopping centres to the web, the French company has a lot to offer with the 308 and it's bending over backwards to let you know, and rightly so because it's a brilliant car.

Firstly, it's a Peugeot, which means it appeals to a unique bunch of people, those who want to be a little different. From the front, you might be hard pressed telling it apart from its smaller brother, the 207, but why change something that works?

It looks a little odd at first, especially with that black bumper taking centre stage, but take it for a drive through a nice part of town and you'll notice a lot of heads turning, for good reasons.

It's a beautiful front design, don't let anyone tell you otherwise, yes it's different, but different is exactly what it's suppose to be. The rear though, well, that seems more of an afterthought.

Somehow I feel the entire design budget was spent on the front and the rear was designed the night before by a German. A little bland. It's not helped by pretend exhaust vents on the higher-spec model either.

Secondly, it's by no means a small car, initially I was under the impression that the 207 SW that I recently road tested was pretty much the same size as the 308, it sure looks like it from the outside, but it's not. The main difference is rear leg room. You can comfortably fit 2 large adults in the back with plenty of room left over.

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I dropped into Peugeot's new dealership in Brisbane and was given the keys to the 308 XSE Turbo manual, powered by a 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine. There was a diesel variant around as well, which would have been my choice, but I was told the petrol was quicker and I am easily persuaded by such facts.

Power comes in at 110kW accompanied by 240Nm of torque. It doesn't sound like much, given the car has a kerb weight of 1440kg, but it gets going at a reasonable pace. 0-100km/h is achieved in 8.8 seconds. Which is much slower than it really feels.

Getting inside the 308 means battling Peugeot's world famous doors, the ones that close on your leg when you least expect it. It's either open half way, or open all the way, there is no in-between, this is great when you get out of the car, as a simple nudge will have the door shut perfectly, but when you have one leg still out as you try to get in, it could get ugly. It's also not fun in tight parking spaces. This problem was also evident in the 207CC.

Once you get inside it's much less stressful. It looks similar to the 207 interior, the stereo, switches, instrument cluster all else seem similar, again, a good thing.

As I've mentioned in the past, Peugeot currently has two problems in Australia, one - buyers think they are too expensive and don't bother to look and two, many are still worried about reliability issues.

The first issue is being tackled by the already mentioned massive advertising campaign and the second, well, from all the reports we have read from Europe, the current generation Pugs are equivalents in reliability terms to their German counterparts. Issues solved, back to the car.

The seating position is perfect for a good drive and the interior feels well made, however the five-speed manual gearbox takes the fun out of driving. The amount of movement between gears is simply too much and the pedals are positioned in such a way that heal and toe is essentially impossible (not that it matters to most drivers).

There is also the problem of cruise control, it won't engage in any gear below 4th, so if you're driving at 50km/h in 3rd for long periods, you're on your own.

But driving it up my regular course around Mt Nebo/Glorious reminded me why I have no hesitation recommending Peugeots. They are simply brilliant in the handling department. Not just this one, but all of them. Precise steering response, limited body roll, great power delivery, a true drivers' car.

Safety also gets a big green tick. Peugeot use what they call a three impact absorption structure. The system uses three areas to absorb kinetic-energy during an impact. 3/5 of the impact energy is absorbed via the main impact structure, 1/5th via the lower impact structure and 1/5th via the third impact structure.

These three impact force absorption structures channel the impact force into specially strengthened areas: the bulkhead, the sub frame and the sides of the body. This leaves you absorbing as little energy as possible.

All 308s come standard with six airbags:

  • two adaptive front air bags with a capacity of 60 litres for the driver and 90 litres for the passenger;
  • two side air bags with a capacity of 12 litres to protect the chest and pelvis of the front passengers;
  • two curtain air bags with a capacity of 30 litres to protect the heads of the front and rear passengers.

If you want more, you can even option out the 308 XSE & XTE models with a steering column air bag to protect the lower limbs of the driver.

However, I can't recommend this car. Sure I would buy it over a petrol Golf (which is starting to show its age) but there is another car in this class which tops this in every way - the 2.0-litre HDi Diesel 308 which Tony and I drove in Sydney.

Click through to the next page for the 308 HDi diesel review.

2008 Peugeot 308 XSE 1.6-litre petrol turbo

CarAdvice overall rating:

How does it drive:

How does it look:

How does it go:

2008 Peugeot 308 XTE HDi

Engine: 1.6-litre petrol turbo
Power: 110kW
Torque: 240Nm
Safety: Electronic stability control- front air bags - side airbags - curtain airbags - front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters & much more.
0-100km/h: 8.8-seconds
Fuel tank: 60-litres
Fuel consumption : 7.9 litres/100km (claimed)
Fuel type: 95 RON

Next page... Peugeot 308 XTE 2.0-litre diesel HDi with 6-speed ‘Tiptronic’ gearbox - Anthony

I’m almost certain that even if you hated the French (and I’m not one of those, as I happen to love the place) after a quick steer in this particular variant of the new 308 series, you will love this car, and won’t want to give it back.

This is how you build a diesel-powered car. The 308 delivers on performance, handling, styling, equipment, economy and emissions. All the boxes are ticked.

All Peugeot has to do to sell this car, is get you in to the driver’s seat and it's done.

Power output from this 2.0-litre turbo diesel certainly doesn’t seem anything but ordinary at 100kW. But don’t read too much into that figure. It’s the 320Nm of torque that should put a big smile on your face, especially as all of it, is available very early in the torque curve, at 2000RPM.

In-gear acceleration is where the 308 HDi shines brightest. Punch the throttle mid way through the rev range in second and whooshka; the pull is downright sports car like and a whole lot of fun.

But it’s even better than that. I’ll let you in on a little secret that’s tucked away in small print in the press kit.

If you put your right foot into it, or pedal to the metal, as the saying goes, you will most likely activate the “overboost” function and that will see torque peak at 340Nm. That’s going to make overtaking a whole safer on many of our substandard roads.

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While I’m not so sure about the 4-speed auto on the petrol 308s, the 6-speed automatic box on this car is superb, if left in auto mode. Hit the “S” for Sport button though, and gear ratios will be held longer before upshifts, and will blip the throttle on downshifts into corners, when braking.

While it’s a ‘Tiptronic’ gearbox and you can use the shifter to switch gear ratios sequentially, don’t bother; it’s too slow to be anything but be annoying. If you do find a nice windy stretch of road, just leave it in sport mode and enjoy.

But straight-line speed is not what the 308 will be remembered for. No, it’s something far more important than that. It’s how this small family car does corners that demands considerable praise.

If you like driving and you like those quiet bendy roads even more but don’t like any body roll whatsoever, then buy a Peugeot 308 or 207. It’s that simple.

Pirelli PZERO NERO 225/40’s are as good a tyre as money can buy, and well worth the $600 option price. The grip they provide is astonishing, and that’s rain, hail or shine.

And let’s not forget the steering. You want the perfect weight and level of power assistance if you plan on driving with a certain level of enthusiasm. Just another area where this Peugeot delivers in spades, using a perfectly calibrated hydraulic electro unit, which delivers accurate and comfortable steering at any speed.

The 308 stops as well as it goes, with large 302mm discs up front, and 249mm at the rear. More importantly, pedal feel inspires confidence even when breaking late into a corner.

Interior wise, the 308 is all class. Plenty of soft materials on the dashboard and doors, together with stylish metal accents in all the right places.

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The metal-rimmed instrument dials are particularly attractive and easy to read at a glance.

If you can’t get comfortable in the 308, which has some of the most ergonomic seats in the business, then I’d suggest you see a physio or chiropractor. Just a week in these pews might sort it all out for you.

Peugeot’s 1.6-litre Turbo petrol is a very smooth and torquey engine with excellent flexibility and fuel economy. But it doesn’t return 6.8L/100kms and reach a top speed of 200km/h. You will need to go for the 2.0-litre diesel to achieve those numbers.

But then again, if fuel economy was your number one priority, then choose the 308 XS HDi and you’ll probably score close to the published 4.9L/100kms, which for a car with this much space and pace, is extraordinary.

"Peugeot's 308 XTE HDi is an inspiring automobile and will make you look at diesel power in a whole new light"

CarAdvice overall rating:

How does it drive:

How does it look:

How does it go:

2008 Peugeot 308 XTE HDi

Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
Power: 100kW
Torque: 320Nm
Safety: Electronic stability control- front air bags - side airbags - curtain airbags - front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters & much more.
0-100km/h: 10.5-seconds
Fuel tank: 60-litres
Fuel consumption : 6.8 litres/100km (claimed)
Fuel type: Diesel