Peugeot 308 1.6 e-HDI Active: Quirky Compact
October 31, 2013
Just two months after its world premiere at the Frankfurt auto show in Germany, the new Peugeot 308 is hitting showrooms in Poland.
Before I even got to test-drive this new French compact car, there was a problem. Despite making several attempts, I could not find a comfortable position behind the wheel. The main obstacle was the somewhat unusual arrangement of the instruments. The car’s speedo and rev counter, set in a casing with a protruding upper lip, jut out above the dashboard and are too close to the windshield. When trying to adjust the driver’s seat and the steering column to a comfortable position, I found that my view of the dials was obstructed each time, and I ended up with the steering wheel almost on my knees. I had to ask a Peugeot Polska employee for help. Then I could finally take stock.
The driver’s seat is comfortable while the dashboard is unconventional but ergonomically laid out and clear. Plenty of quality soft plastic and no unnecessary buttons or switches. In the central part of the dashboard, a large 9.7-inch multimedia LCD stands out. This is something along the lines of a command center with access to all the information from the onboard computer, plus navigation, telephone, air conditioning and audio system controls. Operating the panel is child’s play.
While there is plenty of legroom on the front seats, it’s hard to imagine three adult passengers traveling in the back. On the other hand, you cannot really expect to see a voluminous interior in a compact car with a length of 4.25 meters. And the Peugeot’s 398-liter trunk is larger than what the competition offers in this market segment. To make up for the lack of space at the back, the Peugeot offers extensive standard equipment, including virtually all comfort and safety features available on the market; the list of extras is short.
The Peugeot comes with a range of three gasoline engines and two Common Rail turbodiesels. The test-drive unit was fitted with a 1.6 liter./115 hp turbodiesel with a maximum torque of 270 Nm at 1,750 rpm. This guarantees excellent acceleration, especially as the car weighs only 1,320 kg. The Peugeot takes 10.2 seconds to hit 100 kph from standstill and achieves a top speed of 194 kph. According to the producer, average fuel consumption is a remarkable 3.8 liters/100 km. This is theory, because in practice the car consumed a liter more during the test drive—which was still impressive, especially considering the driving comfort. Also of note is the quiet engine and low CO2 emissions, at just 98 g/km. The car is a front-wheel drive with a six-speed manual transmission that works smoothly. The only downside, in my opinion, is that it takes a bit too long to engage the gears.
Finally, a few comments about the design. This is surprisingly conservative—what we have is a classic, solid, five-door hatchback. Nothing to set the world alight here. In fact, the only distinguishing features of the Peugeot 308 are its headlights and taillights because of their sharp, aggressive shape. Otherwise, it is the most boring bodywork that I have seen lately.
Is this a problem? The 308 appears to have been designed to take on the conservatively styled Volkswagen Golf, and radical looks may have made it more difficult to compete against its German rival.