Published on July 5th, 2017 | by Seán Ward0
Exploring Germany In The Updated 2017 Peugeot 308
It’s mid-life refresh time for the Peugeot 308. The second generation of Peugeot’s family hatch was launched in 2013 and immediately found quite a loyal fanbase. I don’t like slating Peugeot’s past efforts but the difference between the firs-gen 308 and second-gen 308 is huge, so it shouldn’t be a surprise the second-generation proved popular.
The changes for 2017 are subtle, but that’s because the majority of updates are hidden under the surface. There are new gearboxes, new engines and lots of new safety kit, all of which Peugeot hopes will keep the 308 in contention with the rest of the hatchback field.
On the outside there are new lights front and rear, a new vertical front grille, a new bonnet, new front and rear bumpers, and a few new wheel styles, too.
The interior is much the same. The next generation 308 will have the same incredible cockpit as the 3008, but for now the 308 makes do with a new sat-nav, MirrorLink and a 180-degree reversing camera. Beneath the surface, however, there’s Active Safety Brake, Active Lane Departure Warning and an all new adaptive cruise control system.
Safety kit is brilliant, but the new engines and gearboxes are really important. The 130bhp 1.2 litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine has been given some significant upgrades to make it more efficient and less pollutant, while the 110bhp version remains unchanged. There’s also a 1.6 litre, four-cylinder turbo with 205bhp that’ll soon to be upgraded to 225bhp.
There’s an all new four-cylinder diesel engine, too, the 1.5 litre BlueHDi 130 S&S, which is also more efficient than the old four-pot diesel and more economical, and uses technology first seen on the Le Mans winning Peugeot 908 HDi. There’s a more powerful 2.0 litre diesel with 180bhp available as well.
As for gearboxes, there’s an all-new eight-speed automatic and the six-speed manual has been revised to make it that little bit nicer to use.
So how does it drive? Dynamically the 308 is more or less the same as before; there’s plenty of grip, nowhere near as much roll as you might expect, and decent brakes that struggle with the sort of relentless punishment a downhill mountain road can provide (mountain roads are compulsory on car launches) but do a good enough job on a normal, spirited drive. Weirdly, one area where the 308 really felt at home was on the Autobahn, as I managed to cruise along at 130mph quite comfortably.
The time constraints of the launch, or rather the time constraints of filming (make sure you watch our review, by the way), meant that I was unable to sample the new engines (I know, you hate me), but having to either prioritise new engines or new gearboxes I chose to sample the gearboxes, especially as some of the performance and economy figures for the 130bhp diesel haven’t actually been released yet. We will sample the new engines in the UK very soon, however.
I tried the new eight-speed automatic first. It’s supposed to be faster and smoother than the six-speed auto, and for the most part I think it is, but it sometimes struggles to change down smoothly as you’re slowing down to a stop. The paddles behind the steering wheel are responsive to a point, but, again, the gearbox always feels slightly keener to respond on the way up through the gears rather than on the way down. However, it is a better gearbox than the six-speed auto, and somehow it weighs 2kg less despite the extra ratios.
The updated six-speed manual is as Peugeot promised, being both smoother and more precise. It’s no GTI ‘box, but it is nicer to use, as you’re able to feel a little bit more of the process and the movement between each gear is less obstructive.
All in all the updates to the 308 are small but valuable. Subtly fresh looks tweak an already very popular shape, new gearboxes improve the driving experience, new engines mean more efficient performance, and extra safety kit makes the whole package more appealing.
We’ll try the new engines soon, and the updated 308 GTI…