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Our Verdict

Peugeot 308 2007-2013

The Peugeot 308 is refined and inexpensive, but it lacks dynamic excellence

  • First Drive

    Peugeot 308 1.6 e-HDi

    If you’ve got a penchant for French metal and you’re after a spacious, frugal and generally inoffensive family hatchback, then the 308 makes a good case for it
  • First Drive

    Peugeot 308 e-HDi Active SW

    Refined, economical and pleasant enough small estate that’s also practical
17 August 2004

Peugeot’s diesel motors have always been among the best available, but even the fastest oil-burning 307 has had to make do with 110bhp. Not great when rivals claimed up to 150bhp.

Now the French firm has finally addressed that problem by putting the 407’s 136bhp turbodiesel under the bonnet. With a new 16-valve aluminium cylinder head and uprated injection system, it’s Euro4 emissions compliant and packs a massive 240lb ft of torque, up from 188lb ft.

If that wasn’t enough, an overboost function can momentarily increase torque by a further 15lb ft under full load. You can certainly feel the extra urge, which Peugeot says helps the HDi hit 60mph in 9.8sec, just under a second quicker than the 110bhp model could manage.

But while eager to pull even at high revs, the switch from low-rev torpor to boost-induced frenzy is a bit manic. Combined fuel consumption dips slightly, to 52.3mpg.

A new six-speed gearbox makes cog-swapping a pleasurable experience, offering a more feelsome action than the sloppy five-speeder of the less-powerful model.

To keep the extra poke in check, Peugeot has uprated the 307’s brakes, fitting larger front discs and broader pistons. They’re strong enough, but have a sharp initial bite.

Suspension tweaks are limited to damper adjustments to counter the increase in weight. The 307 has always been a decent steer, although the elevated driving position can make you feel as if you’re sitting on the car rather than in it.

XSi spec includes smart 17in alloys and a smattering of leather on seats, steering-wheel and gearlever. Good additions, though they don’t really sharpen the 307’s appearance. With a punchier engine and a better gearchange, however, this 307 is definitely moving in the right direction.

Jamie Corstorphine

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