When the second-generation 308 was launched in 2013, it spearheaded Peugeot’s design reinvention with a bold new look. But in the relentless world of the family hatchback, what then appeared progressive now seems a bit dated.
Even beyond the styling, while the 308 was thoroughly decent, it had the misfortune to exist in a class with not one but two household-name default options – the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf – and didn’t really stand out as a compelling alternative. Still, it did seem to renew Peugeot’s design swagger, helped by the PSA Group’s efforts to really differentiate the brand from Citroën after years of quasi-badge engineering moved both into the mushy middle of the road.
The likes of the 3008 SUV took the design of the 308 and pushed it further, and so the new Mk3 308 effectively closes a loop by building further on the models it inspired with the latest Peugeot design language, including the ‘textured’ front grille and bold ‘lion’s claw’ LED headlights. It’s also the first model to sport a new-look (but retro-inspired) badge, which has been introduced as part of Stellantis’s ambition to turn Peugeot into an “inventive high-end generalist” brand. Which is focus-grouped marketing speak for ‘a bit upmarket but not really premium’, I think...
Seriously, though, when did a Peugeot family hatchback last look this good? It has been a while, eh? It was certainly before the spinning number wheel for the third digit in the model’s name became jammed at eight. Are we going back to the 306? I think we are.