Good news: we were able to test the new Peugeot 308 Hybrid (2021) during a session organized by the lion brand. We give you all our impressions and conclusions on this 3rd iteration of the famous 308… Until the 100% electric model is released, even if it is not for now.
Essay by Alexandre Lenoir
Its previous two generations have sold over 7.3 million units in 14 years, making Peugeot 308 one of the biggest boxes in the French automobile industry. As saying that this new 308, the third of the name, has an interest in having strong shoulders as the ambitions of the Sochaux brand are so important to it.
And shoulders, that falls well, its designers gave it rather muscular ones. Already the car has grown. A lot. It takes indeed no less than 11 centimeters in length which, for 4.36 meters, the place beyond the Golf VIII benchmark. And if it keeps its width, it drops two centimeters (1.44 meters high), but above all it sees its wheelbase change to 2.67 meters (compared to 2.62 meters previously), to the benefit of space on board.
On the hood, sides or tailgate, it is impossible to escape body folds. This is the new hobby of car designers and, like it or not, Peugeot has not let its 308 escape it. You will also not escape the new logo of the brand which, like on Italian sports cars, sits prominently on the front fenders, but also in enormous on the radiator grille with an astonishing characteristic: the monogram is here placed on a indium plate. This relatively rare (and very expensive!) Metal which you may never have heard of until now has among other interesting characteristics of being very resistant, but also of letting through the radar waves essential for aid equipment. to driving. Hopefully its value (between 200 and 300 dollars per kg) does not attract too much envy …
Finally, in front and behind, 100% LED lights take care of helping you see and be seen, right from the first trim level. Going upmarket, the front lights also gain matrix technology which obscures the beam of vehicles in front or coming in front so as not to dazzle drivers at night. The daytime running lights are characterized by a hook shape at the front, while at the rear the three brand identity claws are flattened, thus reinforcing the impression of width at the shoulders of the auto. Finally, on our plug-in hybrid model, we find a hatch on each of the two rear fenders : one for gasoline, the other for electricity.
Read also: Test Toyota Yaris Cross (2021), an SUV cut for the city
A cockpit that divides
Inside, everything is new. Although Peugeot obviously drew inspiration from its 208 and 508, the work didn’t stop at a simple adaptation. the i-Cockpit 3D with its double flattened steering wheel adopts new computer graphics, while the dashboard, which makes the piano keys more discreet, surmounts them with customizable touch keys. These appear on a specific screen placed under the large 10-inch screen which houses the infotainment, all facing the driver.
The interface Peugeot-Connect has also been reviewed. To reinforce tactile interactions, the voice assistant who responds to the “OK Peugeot” prompt is also connected. And speaking of connectivity, the car is obviously able to access your smartphone by Apple CarPlay or Android auto. Four USB-C sockets are located in the car, as well as an induction charging mat placed under the dashboard. To its left, the gear selector has been reduced to a small lever and pushbuttons for Parking mode or B mode, which boosts battery regeneration on deceleration. Finally, with regard to the plug-in hybrid model, the driving mode selector offers five positions : sport, normal, eco, hybrid and electric.
Space, but not too much
As for life on board, interior space in the rear seats is improving at the same time as the wheelbase lengthens, but without being overwhelming. Up front, the AGR-labeled seats (option at 1000 euros, standard on GT Pack) are comfortable and can even massage. Note that leather finishes are only available as an option (1700 to 1900 euros depending on the type). However, one could easily feel a little cramped in the cockpit, like wedged between the center armrest and the one in the door. The front passenger, on the other hand, benefits from a more open space in front of him which attenuates this feeling. If you like to see the sky, count 1,100 euros for the electric sunroof.
In this hybrid version, the trunk also loses about fifty liters of volume compared to the thermal version. At 361 liters (against 412 in thermal), it is then slightly more narrow than that of the Golf VIII (380 liters).
If you adjust the seat easily enough to your body type and driving habits, the situation can quickly turn into a nightmare depending on whether you like to drive sitting low or high, with the steering wheel up or down and… depending on your height. Yes, we are talking here about the famous problem of readability of the instrumentation that probably every two Peugeot driver equipped with the i-Cockpit encounters: the rim of the steering wheel can indeed come to more or less partially mask the entire instrument cluster.
If until now we had not been too affected by this phenomenon, it is clear that as we like to sit in the 308, the steering wheel hides the lower part of the instrument panel. Problem: the new 3D computer graphics (a translucent screen is placed over a first one to create an effect of depth) is not as readable as it was on the 208. Firstly, because it is richer , secondly, because a parallax effect can greatly interfere with reading as soon as you move your head a little. This is all the more unfortunate that a nice effort has been put into the quality and finesse of the graphics. But for another driver in two, it will undoubtedly be a success.
Finally, a more ergonomic interface
As for infotainment, progress in ergonomics is real, although it is not yet as easy as you would like. The “OK Peugeot” wizard can take over a number of functions, but is still fairly basic. If the car is connected to the cellular network, however, it is possible to access local information (charging stations, shops, weather, etc.) and enter their addresses into the navigation system if necessary.
Still, he was a little finicky on one of the two vehicles we tested, with a sizzling vocal feedback on one of them (what a shame, especially when the car is equipped with the high-end Focal audio system, quite good by the way, billed at 850 euros). We also spotted many bugs and an understanding of natural language that is not always easy to pin down.
For the record, we discovered by trying that the assistant responds not to the full prompt (OK Peugeot), but to the first “OK little” syllables. Therefore, you are free to find another small name for it that starts with “little”, since it is unfortunately not possible to replace the sesame with another formula. To conclude on this Peugeot Connect system, know that it will benefit from updates over the air of its software, which will undoubtedly resolve the few bugs that remained in our test models.
Not one, but two PHEVs
The 308 Hybrid is offered in two versions, from 180 or 225 horsepower. It also exists in silhouette sedan or station wagon. The model for this test is the 225 horsepower sedan, but we were able to test the SW version as well, which provides some interesting benchmarks. It is powered by a 1.6 L Puretech thermal engine 4 cylinders turbo and 180 horsepower, assisted by an 81 kW (108 horsepower) electric machine. The latter is powered by a small 12.4 kWh battery, for a 100% electric range of 58 kilometers, as announced by the instrumentation when starting up.
Unlike the new DS 4 with which it shares the platform, this is the only engine definition that allows the 308 to have a 4 cylinders gasoline, the other versions being three cylinders. The diesel versions are also 4 cylinders.
Heaviness under control
When starting up, we pass the selector from driving mode on Hybrid, rather than electric. Our goal is to see, in real conditions, how long it takes for the battery to empty even though the heat engine can be used.
The electric block is limited to 135 km / h, speed beyond which the thermal will automatically take over. In fact, the hybrid mode behaves in reality almost like the Electric mode, because it favors battery traction as much as possible. However, we noticed a huge difference in behavior between the station wagon and the sedan. On an identical 90-kilometer route combining city, suburban and motorway, the station wagon brought us to our destination with another 4 km of electric autonomy, while the sedan version of the 308 had drained its battery in just over 40 km. . Perhaps with more mass to move, the station wagon’s transmission chain management electronics will have chosen to make more use of the thermal block in certain driving phases.
Driving what is now the most powerful of the 308, it is difficult not to ignore the presence of the on-board battery earth. If the behavior remains safe, passages in tight curves are less sharp than with a thermal version, and certainly less than with the previous 225 horsepower thermal version. In order not to let the front swing away too quickly, you have to be careful with your gait.
Weight always requires, the suspension is softer than what you would naturally expect from a Peugeot. Even if it meant inflating an already salty note, Peugeot could have offered an optional piloted damping, like that found on the new DS4. And since we’re comparing these two cars, the braking of the Peugeot 308 does not have the same bite either attack than the one we enjoyed in his cousin’s house. Another curiosity encountered during our test carried out in a humid climate: while driving at moderate speed, a mist formed at the base of the windshield and the air conditioning did not want to overcome it. In fact, a wipe of the wiper made it clear to us that it was forming on the outside, presumably by condensing the hot air from the bonnet. Curious.
Hush, I’m driving!
On the other hand, the soundproofing is very neat, regardless of the type of coating encountered. All this in other words, the 308 hybrid will take you on long journeys without tiring your ears and rather taking care of your lower back, even at high speed on the highway. In the city, a cycle that promotes electric autonomy, the car is also very comfortable. But be careful not to crush the right pedal too hard, because the torque sent to the front axle alone can totally exceed the traction capacity, especially on a slightly greasy surface.
Also note that in electric driving mode, a small blue LED located at the foot of the rearview mirror and visible from the outside lights up, thus materializing the zero-emission evolution. This is of little use at the moment, but Peugeot believes that this kind of distinctive sign could become mandatory in certain restricted traffic areas in the future.
Autonomy level 2
ADAS side, in other words driving aids, the new Peugeot 308 claims to be able to evolve at level 2 of autonomy. We therefore find the now classic aids for maintaining the position in the lane, the adaptive regulator, the recognition of traffic signs and we go. The 308 now also has a rear cross traffic alert, very useful when maneuvering in parking lots or garage exits, as well as a pack of four cameras (option at 500 euros, standard on GT Pack) for a 360 ° vision during maneuvers, as well as long-range radars for monitoring blind spots, standard on the two highest trim levels (or € 700 on the lower priced versions).
As for the consumption figures, if it is difficult to give a completely complete statement, our sedan version asked on average 2.8 liters of super for a hundred kilometers driven. But this value is obviously doomed to increase with distance, since it is precisely over the first tens of kilometers that the electrical part effectively supports the whole. Then, you have to drag the more than 200 kilos of batteries that add to the mass of the car, not to mention that of the electric motor. Reasonably, a value around 7 liters seems realistic. It’s nothing out of the ordinary for a compact car.
Dear 308 …
Salty price, we said. Indeed, hybridization sells for a high price here. Access to the GT PHEV range starts at 37,800 euros for the base 180 horsepower version (Active Pack). Then count 44,300 euros to upgrade to 225 horsepower (GT), and another 1,600 euros for the GT Pack version, a little better equipped (45,900 euros), ie 10,300 euros more than the thermal GT Pack (35,600 euros). In short, the most expensive – and therefore the best equipped – of the thermal versions remains cheaper than the least expensive of the PHEV versions, even after deducting the bonus of 1000 euros to which it can claim in 2021 (the thermal versions are, at best, exempt from penalties and at worst taxed 50 euros). It is therefore necessary to calculate its cost prices before choosing.
For recharging, which is nevertheless an important part of the life of a PHEV vehicle, Peugeot is happy to communicate on its 7.4 kW on-board charger. But… this one is an option at 400 euros. In fact, a 3.7 kW charger is offered as standard. Ditto, the standard Mode 2 charging cable can only handle 1.8 kW. For the 3.7 kW version, count 100 euros more. If you add up the options, you can easily exceed an invoice of 50,000 euros and at the same time lose the little bonus.
For those who regret reading us that there is no such thing as 100% electric version, know that it will not be until 2023 for Peugeot to add it to its catalog.
While Peugeot claims that today 20% of its sales are made with fully or partially electrified vehicles, the company intends to push this figure to 80% within five years. For now, the 308 Hybrid will undoubtedly be able to appeal to many fleet managers for the tax benefits it can provide. On the other hand, for an individual who pays for his car out of his pocket, the PHEV “surcharge” will have difficulty in being justified other than by an insurmountable local constraint. However, no ZFE has for the moment planned to ban the thermal gasoline vehicle in the short term. A thermal version, lighter and more fun, will then be much more recommendable. To ride geek in 308, it would therefore be better to wait another two years for the release of its 100% electric version.