They are on average £2,000 cheaper than a new Golf and £500 cheaper to buy than the outgoing 308 models despite having more specification, said Neil Moscrop, sales director for Peugeot UK at the media launch of the new range.
He also added the new lighter-weight 308 is cheaper to service and cheaper to run thanks to improved fuel economy, lower CO2 emissions and therefore lower levels of road and company car tax. With a higher 9.3 percentage points residual value forecast by industry expert CAP Monitor, the new 308 will be cheaper to finance using PCP contract purchase/hire or Peugeot’s own Just add Fuel scheme. The higher residual values over the first three years of ownership should result in a saving of £1,550. He also said that currently 75% of retail customers use a PCP finance scheme and of that total 35% use their Just add Fuel finance plan.
The starter model to the new 308 range is actually £1,400 less than the starter price of the old range with prices beginning at £14,495 and going up to £24,045. A range of SW estate models will be added to the 308 range mid 2014 and a GTi hot hatch version is also likely.
Moscrop said he expected a 40% increase in sales for the new 308 range over the outgoing models which should mean 16,000 annual registrations with around 70% of these going to fleet and business customers. But with the future addition of the new three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines with lower purchase prices and CO2 emissions there should be an increase in retail sales over the previous generation range. Overall he expects a 50/50 sales split between petrol and diesel engines.
From launch the new 308 will be available with 1.2-litre 82bhp and 1.6-litre e-THP turbo 125 and 156bhp petrol units and with 1.6-litre 92 and 115bhp HDI turbodiesels. From Spring next year the engine line-up will expand with the arrival of the new 1.2-litre, three cylinder turbocharged 110 and 130bhp petrol units plus two new Blue HDI diesels, a 1.6-litre120bhp unit with CO2 emissions of just 82g/km offering up to 91.1mpg and a 2.0-litre, 150bhp, 108g/km version as well. A new generation six-speed automatic transmission will also join the range.
There are four levels of specification on offer, depending on the engine chosen. The range starts with Access followed by the best selling Active, then Allure and with Feline topping out the range. The single best selling new 308 five door hatchback will have Active specification accounting for 50% of sales. The most popular engine for now will be the 1.6-litre 92bp turbodiesel which will account for 40% of initial orders. So the initial best selling version will be the 1.6 HDI 92bhp Active five-speed manual priced at £17,895. With the arrival next Spring of the new three cylinder 1.2-litre e-THP 110bhp petrol unit the sales split might change, especially for retail buyers due to its slightly lower price of £17,195 with the same Active specification.
The new 308 C-segment five door hatchback is the first Peugeot to use PSA Peugeot Citroen group’s new EMP2 modular platform which is in use already with the new Citroen C4 Picasso MPV. For the Peugeot 308 it is 140kg lighter than the outgoing range due to its use of lightweight high strength steel, aluminium and composite material structure. Lighter weight, in addition to engine improvements, means better performance, better fuel economy and lower emissions all resulting in lower running costs. The engine changes alone also add to considerably better performance overall. Petrol units offer 45% more torque, 10% more power and 12% less CO2 emissions. Diesel units give 10% more torque, 10% more power and 10% less CO2 output.
The new platform shortens the front overhang of the new 308 over its predecessor so the overall length is reduced slightly to 4,253mm, the height is slightly lower at 1,457mm and the width is 1,800mm so it has a much squatter aerodynamic stance. Gone is the droopy heavy looking front nose and now the new range has a face similar to that of the very successful new Peugeot 208 and 2008 models, both of which have increased Peugeot’s sales considerably. With its new modern looking face with its chrome surrounded grille flanked by stylish headlights, LED ones for some specification levels and distinctive daytime LED running lights for all versions, it has a refreshing new look. Another bonus of using the new platform is the provision of a much larger boot giving 470-litres of room with the three rear seats in use but then 1,308-litres with them all folded down.
The weight saving has given the 308 more agility and it felt nimble helped by improved response of the upgraded engines. On the best selling model I tried, the 1.6 HDI 92 Active, the ride comfort felt improved as well, still slightly on the soft side during cornering with some ‘float’ at the rear but there was plenty of cornering grip. The front suspension coped better with absorbing our poor road surface bumps and potholes but the rear suspension didn’t cope with the potholes quite as well. Certainly I would recommend staying with the standard 16-inch alloy wheels offered in the Active specification. The 17 and 18-inch ones offered in higher spec levels firmed-up the ride and coped less well on my test drives with poor road surfaces producing much higher levels of road-roar noise intrusion.
Inside the new 308 the fascia has received radical changes. The new-age small diameter Peugeot steering wheel introduced successfully with their 208 supermini is used so the main instruments are viewed over the top of the wheel instead of through it. I find this smaller wheel actually sharpens up the steering response requiring less input and I get better feedback which plays a big part in its better overall agility. The fascia has been de-cluttered of switches and controls and looks quite smart if a little spartan and some of the plastic look cheapish.
Many of the functions previously operated by knobs, switches and such-like are now incorporated in the large centrally positioned touchscreen. This 9.7-inch screen is standard on all but the entry level Access models and features large icons to select the function needed. It’s a tidy solution but not as user-friendly as conventional switchgear if you try to change settings on the move. For instance you have to go into the touchscreen menus to change the heater settings, fan speed and air conditioning, conventional centrally placed controls on the fascia are much easier and faster to use.
Otherwise the interior is much improved in quality like all recent new Peugeots. The seats offer good support and the door panels are nicely trimmed. More rear seat legroom would have improved the new 308 no end, it’s still a bit tight and if the panoramic glass roof option is taken then headroom suffers as well.
The best selling Active level of specification includes dual zone air conditioning, electrically operated windows and door mirrors, electric handbrake, cruise control with speed limiter, DAB radio, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers, sat-nav and leather trimmed gearlever and steering wheel, 16-inch alloys and the LED daytime running lights and rear lights which also come with the Access base trim level.
Much of the media presentation centred on how much time and development had gone into the new 308 to make it a better and more durable car. Prototypes have covered over two million miles during testing in the aim to making it look and feel as-good-as-new after three years of use. It is a vastly improved product but it still falls short of the high standards in terms of handling refinement provided by the new VW Golf and the Ford Focus.
MILESTONES. New Peugeot 308 1.6 HDi 92 Active 5-Door (Best selling model). Price: £17,895. Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel, 92bhp, 170lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm, 5-speed manual. Performance: 113mph, 0-62mph 11.3 seconds, 74.3mpg Combined Cycle ( 45.5mpg on test), CO2 99g/km, VED road tax £0, BIK company car tax 14%. Insurance group: tbc. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,253mm, W 1,801mm, H 1,457mm, boot/load space 470 to 1,309-litres. For: Good looks, lighter weight gives nimble and agile handling, potential for good fuel economy, low for tax costs, competitive pricing, generally a comfortable ride, responsive engine, good residual values. Against: Road/wind noise intrusion, rear suspension not as compliant as the front so fidgety handling at times, heating/air con controls embedded within the complex touch-screen system so not very user-friendly.
Miles Better News Agency