Peugeot launched its 307 replacement, the unimaginatively named 308, into the already oversaturated small family hatchback market sector in 2007. Marketing fluff focused on the usual buzz words – sporty, dynamic, lively. However this good-looking car's strengths are in other areas, helping it to become an interesting contender among class rivals.
The approved used Peugeot 308 came with three or five doors and a good range of petrol and diesel engines returning exemplary fuel economy. Various gearboxes were available, including a six-speed manual, a six-speed EGC semi-automatic and a full six-speed automatic on the range-topping 2.0 HDi. Trim levels were badged Urban, S, SE and Sport. 2008 ushered in an SW estate version, followed in 2009 by a CC convertible, with the fully retractable hard-top roof used successfully in previous Peugeot convertibles.
In 2010 Peugeot made a fairly weak attempt to satisfy the hot hatch lovers with a 200bhp 1.6 litre GT, before a minor facelift in 2011 brought cosmetic updates and the introduction of micro-hybrid and hybrid 3008 versions.
Bang for your buck
In a departure from the French brand's hot hatch glory days, the used Peugeot 308 is a more complete and mature vehicle than lovers of Peugeot's jaunty sports cars might expect. The 308 is about refinement, with award-winning safety features and plush interiors key selling points.
The used Peugeot 308's looks weren't to everyone's taste, following the trend for a high roofline seen in other small family cars but a little bit shorter, longer and wider than the 307. A wedge-shaped front end with a longer than usual overhang gives it a distinctive, sharky air that nonetheless fits in with Peugeot's wider styling ethos across its whole model range.
The cabin is spacious for luggage but less so for rear passenger legroom and boasts understated and rather chic styling in true French style. Materials used have an expensive feel to them and standard kit includes power steering, remote control central locking with deadlocks, electric front windows and wing mirrors, a height and reach adjustable steering column, CD stereo, height adjustable front seats and a trip computer.
What you'll pay
The Peugeot 308 for sale proved popular so you should find plenty of choice in the used market. An entry-level 1.4 litre VTi petrol model from 2007 should give you some change from £6,000, while a five-door, 1.6 litre Sport will be nearing £7,000. As usual in this market sector, diesels were the more desirable option so prices boast a premium over petrol variants.
What to check
The only reported problems have been with minor electricals so check those, but otherwise make sure you have a full service history for a reliable buy.
French cars used to have a reputation for expensive parts, but Peugeot 308 consumables are realistically priced. Expect to pay about £15 for an air filter and £20 for an oil filter. A timing belt will set you back around £40 and a spark plug £10.
How it drives
Peugeot's intuitive VTi variable valve timing technology boosts a comprehensive range of engines, adjusting performance depending upon driver actions, in other words making it faster when you give it some, but using less fuel when you're pootling along.
A basic model will give you 95bhp from a 1.4 litre petrol unit, while a step up to the 1.6 litre will get you 120bhp and the option of a four-speed automatic gearbox. More fun can be had a further rung up the ladder with the 150bhp 1.6 litre turbo THP, shaving two full seconds off the standard 1.6's 0-60mph figure of 10.8 seconds. If you have a really heavy foot, go for 175bhp or 200bhp versions. There is also a range of HDi diesels, starting with 1.6 litres offering 90 or 110bhp, plus a nippy 2.0 for 136bhp and 0-60mph in 10.1 seconds.
Peugeot's credit in terms of solidity and safety has a corresponding debit in the form of a rather unwieldy and bulky feel to the drive, particularly when cornering. Comfortable motorway cruising is the 308's strong point, while the super-sharp brakes leave you at risk of making inadvertent emergency stops until you become accustomed to the pedal's short throw.
That sleekly angled front end contributes to excellent aerodynamics and in turn rewarding fuel economy figures, with the 1.6 litre HDi returning over 60 miles to the gallon and even the thirstier petrol engines are competitive against market rivals.
Unlike the Peugeot 205s and 306s of yesteryear, you won't be looking at the used Peugeot 308 for its sporting prowess, but it is well-built and does make a practical and comfortable small family car.