Inside story

The all-black cabin of the 308 is cloaked in a rich mix of materials, satin chrome dashboard trim and interior door handles and plenty of hi-tech equipment.  It features Peugeot’s i-Cockpit that comprises four elements: a small steering wheel, head-up display (HUD), high centre console and touchscreen. And it all makes perfect sense, providing an insulated, cocooned feel to the cabin area.

The small-diameter steering wheel has been redesigned with two flats to make it easier to grip and provide the driver with improved visibility and legroom. While you can see the instrument cluster over the steering wheel – rather than peering through it – it does necessitate a little manual Seat adjustment for tall drivers. It also requires less steering effort when parking and manoeuvring around corners in town.

The reconfigurable instrument cluster offers five different display modes, controlled from a button on the steering wheel. The read-outs are clear and crisp.

Positioned on the raised centre console is a ten-inch tablet-style touchscreen that is equipped with capacitive technology and angled toward the driver. The touchscreen displays the usual vehicle information – such as trip data and fuel economy – and images from the rearview parking camera.

Beneath the touchscreen is the carmaker’s trademark chrome piano keys to control the radio, HVAC (subsequently using cabin temperature sliders on the touchscreen), sat-nav, vehicle parameters and phone and mobile applications.

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Five trim levels are offered: Active Premium, Allure, Allure Premium, GT and GT Premium. Comfort and convenience features fitted to our top-drawer GT Premium include automatic dual-zone climate control, power-folding heated wing mirrors, electric parking brake, parking sensors, leather steering wheel with red stitch detail and ‘GT’ emblem and sports-style heated front seats with Mistral leather effect and matching red stitching.

Size-wise, the boxy-shaped boot space provides a capacity of 660 litres with the 40/20/40 back seats in the upright position; 1,775 litres with rear seats folded flat. Continuing the space theme, cubby holes are also wide, deep and plentiful plus map pockets on the sculpted backs of the front seats. Just one cupholder in the front console though and two in the back.

Advanced driver assistance systems

In the ADAS department, the 308 comes with a suite of clever driver assistance technologies to help steer you away from trouble. It includes cruise control and speed limiter, lane-keeping assist, speed limit and traffic sign recognition and recommendation, driver attention warning, intelligent speed adaptation, active safety brake with pedestrian and cyclist detection and an acoustic vehicle alerting system (PHEV models only)

Other new technologies include:

  • 360° surround-view parking assistance with four cameras (front, rear and both sides).
  • Semi-automatic lane change – the driver suggests a lane change manoeuvre by setting the direction indicators. The system performs a semi-automatic lane change manoeuvre if appropriate conditions are met and confirmed by the driver.
  • Anticipated speed recommendation – the system suggests to the driver that they adapt their speed (acceleration or deceleration) according to the speed limit signs.
  • Curve speed adaptation – at speeds of up to 112mph (where legal) the set-up optimises the car’s speed according to the severity of the bend.

On the road

Out and about, this attractive and entertaining SW semi-estate felt comfortable and relaxed with few shortcomings. Its interior is undeniably well packaged and spacious with some useful infotainment and connectivity features. The carmaker’s attempt to reinvent the wheel through its i-Cockpit control layout is pleasing to the eye, while the infotainment shortcut piano keys make navigating through the various touchscreen menus feel like a breeze. In typical French fashion, Peugeot has outdone itself with this minimalistic cockpit.

It is available with plug-in hybrid technology alongside petrol and diesel engines. Drivers have a choice between two plug-in hybrid powertrains – a Hybrid 180 e-EAT8 or the Hybrid 225 e-EAT8, with both vehicles powered by a 12.4kWh electric battery and a 1.6-litre petrol engine. Both models are capable of up to 39 miles in the electric mode under WLTP testing. Both plug-in hybrid variants come standard with a 3.7kW onboard charger, with buyers able to add a faster 7.4kW as an option. A full charge with the standard 3.7kW cable takes just under 4 hours or 2 hours when using a 7.4kW charger.  Our 308 SW was powered by a 1.2-litre PureTech 130 petrol engine that averaged 39 mpg compared to an expected 42.3 mpg. Rival models include the Ford Focus, Skoda Octavia and SEAT Leon.