New 2021 Peugeot 308 gains major overhaul and PHEV options

1 year, 8 months ago - 18 March 2021, autocar
New 2021 Peugeot 308 gains major overhaul and PHEV options
Third-gen family hatch goes after Seat Leon with pair of hybrid powertrains and driver-focused interior

The Peugeot 308 hatchback has been substantially overhauled for its third generation, ushering in the firm's latest design cues and new logo alongside a revamped engine line-up and interior.

Most obviously, the 308 is now more closely related visually to newer Peugeot models including the 208, 508, 2008 and 3008, with a front end characterised by the firm's trademark 'fang' LED daytime-running lights, slim headlights and a large grille housing the brand's new 'coat of arms'. The new logo, which hides the driving aids' radar sensor, will appear first on the 308, before being rolled out to all Peugeot models and dealerships worldwide over the coming years.

The hatchback's wheelbase has been extended by 55mm - and its overall length by 110mm - to offer more space in the back seats, and it sits 20mm lower than the standard car in line with a heightened focus on aerodynamic efficiency, as also indicated by its lengthy curved bonnet and more heavily raked windscreen. 

This focus is particularly evident in the design of the rear end, which features a much more prominent spoiler than that of the outgoing car and a sharp air-channelling crease, continued from the sides, integrated into the wraparound light bar. The 308 has a slightly improved drag coefficient, as a result of its new proportions, of 0.28.

The 308's EMP2 platform - shared with the Citroën C5 Aircross, Vauxhall Grandland X and DS 7 Crossback - is compatible with a range of petrol, diesel and electrified powertrains. Two plug-in hybrid options will be available from launch, pairing a turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine, tuned to either 148bhp or 178bhp, with a 109bhp electric motor attached to the eight-speed automatic gearbox. They both use a 12.4kWh lithium ion battery pack offering an EV range of up to 37 miles and capable of charging in just under two hours from a 7.4kW charger.

Both hybrid options are front-wheel drive, but a top-rung PSE-badged four-wheel-drive hot hybrid version is expected to follow with around 300bhp and substantially improved performance.

The pure-combustion offering comprises a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol with either 108bhp or 128bhp, and a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel with 128bhp. While the top-rung petrol is available with the eight-speed automatic gearbox, the other combustion engines are paired exclusively with a six-speed manual. Full performance and economy data for all powertrains will be revealed closer to the 308's launch in the second half of 2021.

A late-life update for the outgoing 308 introduced elements of Peugeot's current i-Cockpit interior layout, but the latest generation gains an updated set-up that mirrors the predominantly digital and angular design of other Peugeot interiors. A downsized, performance-inspired steering wheel houses certain controls for the infotainment system and driver aids, but the centrally mounted 10.0in touchscreen - angled slightly towards the driver - replaces the majority of physical buttons and switches. However, a row of so-called 'i-toggle' switches below this screen can be individually configured to control separate functions, according to the driver's preference.

The infotainment itself aims to provide the same level of functionality as a modern smartphone and places greater emphasis on personalisation. Up to eight individual profiles can be stored, two phones can be connected at once via Bluetooth and smartphone-mirroring functionality is now wireless as standard. Drivers can also use the new 'OK Peugeot' voice control function to change infotainment settings without taking their eyes off the road.

Ergonomically, a new, smaller air-conditioning unit has allowed for a redesigned centre console housing a button-style drive direction selector (there is no gearstick on automatic cars), a new drive mode switch, a wireless phone charging pad, a 34-litre storage cubby and a pair of USB sockets.

Various flourishes throughout the interior hint at Peugeot's renewed upmarket push. Alcantara and embossed leather feature, depending on trim specified, and the front seats can be equipped with 10-way electric adjustability and a multi-programme pneumatic massage system. From GT trim upwards, the hatchback is equipped with a new Air Quality System, which filters the air entering the cabin and displays air quality via a dedicated display on the touchscreen.

The 308's Drive Assist 2.0 package represents "a further step towards autonomous driving", according to Peugeot. New features included as part of the upgrade - either optionally or as standard - include long-range blind-spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, a cleaning nozzle for the reversing camera, 360deg parking assist and wing mirrors that lower when reversing. 

Peugeot has yet to reveal pricing for the new 308, but aims for price parity between hybrid and combustion models in terms of total cost of ownership. Expect the entry-level combustion car to cost slightly more than the current model, which starts from £21,270, and for the PHEV models to command a substantial premium.

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