With two versions of the Peugeot 308 Hybrid available from May this year, WhatCar? got behind the wheel of the lower-powered model to see if it can pull its weight. Here are the highlights of what they had to say:
“The days when company car drivers’ main concern was getting the most miles out of a single tank of diesel are long gone. Now, it’s all about maximising the distance you can go without burning any fossil fuel at all.
This is the Peugeot 308 Hybrid family car’s key mission. You see, the further you can go without using fuel, the smaller the dent made in your pay packet by company car tax, and the 308’s plug-in hybrid (PHEV) system allows it to do many commutes on battery power.
Joining the peppy 128bhp 1.2-litre petrol and economical 1.5-litre diesel (also 128bhp) in the 308 line-up, the 1.6-litre PHEV is offered as the 225bhp 225 and the cheaper 178bhp 180. But which of the two is better? Let’s find out.”
“We've tested the lower-powered 180 model so far, and frankly it’s hard to see why you’d pay more for the 225. For starters, the 180 is only 0.1sec behind in the 0-62mph dash, getting there in 7.6sec.
More relevantly, its official electric-only range of up to 44 miles beats the 225’s 40 miles. We managed around 26 miles of petrol-free motoring on a bitterly cold winter’s day, but we’d expect to see something in the mid-30s in warmer weather.
You need to be gentle with the accelerator to keep the engine from kicking in, but you can coax the Hybrid up to motorway speeds without using any petrol. Plant your foot in the carpet, though, and the combined efforts of engine and electric motor get the 308 up to speed briskly.”
“On a twisty road, the 308 has enough grip in reserve that you can take corners at pace with confidence, and body lean is minimal. The steering is a bit on the light side, though, and doesn’t have the progressive weighting you find in the rival Seat Leon, so it isn't the most engaging family car to drive.
The 308 has taut suspension controlling body movements and is a quiet cruiser - the engine is hushed and the suspension makes little noise over bumps."
“The dashboard in the 308 differs from those in most rivals because you view the standard 10.0in digital instrument panel over – rather than through – a small steering wheel. The wheel has a flat top to help, but short drivers might still find the instruments obscured unless they have the wheel set in an unnatural position.
Neither the instrument panel nor the 10.0in central touchscreen is as intuitive to use as the A3’s, but the large, handy shortcuts below the 308’s touchscreen are welcome.
Space in the front of the 308 is good, but rear leg and head room are at a premium for those over six feet tall. The Hybrid’s boot is smaller than the regular 308’s; the battery reduces boot space from 412 to 361 litres.”
Crucially for company car users, the Peugeot 308 Hybrid undercuts the Audi A3 40 TFSIe Sport by a healthy margin, and since it sits in the same low 8% tax band, the 308 lets you take more of your earnings home with you.
Second-rung Allure trim is the one to go for. Although it misses out on the wireless smartphone charging and connectivity of Allure Premium, you can add a Driver Assist Pack (which includes blindspot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert) and it’s still cheaper than the higher trim level.
The 308 is a smart-looking, nicely trimmed and cost-effective alternative to an A3 plug-in hybrid. If you're buying with your own hard-earned cash, we can understand why you might choose it.