What is it?
This early production Peugeot 308 was made available to us for Car of the Year assessment (the winner of which title will be announced on 28 February).
On the seven-car shortlist, the Peugeot is the only internally combusting competitor, and although there’s a Peugeot 308 plug-in hybrid variant and a fully electric Peugeot e-308 coming, they don’t get more internally combusting than this Puretech 130 GT variant.
It has a 129bhp turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine driving via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. A manual ’box is available abroad in lower specifications, but all UK cars will be auto-only.
The 308 is a traditional small family hatchback – that most conventional and still appealing sector of the market. An estate, badged the SW, will arrive at the same time as the hatch in April. It’s a compact 4.37m long (the SW 4.65m) and 1.85m wide across the body.
The Puretech 130 hatch starts at £24,365 in the UK, but GT trim is one rung down from the range-topping GT Premium and costs £29,285. It officially puts out 130g/km of CO2.
What's it like?
I like the look of the inside of the latest 308. All variants get a 10in central touchscreen, which is asked to do too much, but there’s a separate audio volume knob and a small row of physical buttons, while a set of touchable shortcuts on higher-spec models can be customised as you like. The main touchscreen display is configurable too, so it could be worse.
Then again, it could be better: there’s a set of blanks on the dashboard that would be ripe for lane keeping assistance and instrument-dimmer buttons if Peugeot were so inclined; and a real switch for controlling the temperature would be fab too, making it easier to change these things while still looking up the road.
The driving position is good if you like the concept but still not to everyone’s taste. It doesn’t really work for me without having the diddy steering wheel set curiously low, like in a dodgem, so that I can see the instruments over it.
The 3D instrument pack is attractive but can look too busy; but again, you can turn off elements of it so that the speedometer takes a slightly higher prominence.
Material quality is high, while there’s nice ambient lighting and good oddment storage, albeit only average rear passenger space. And it’s nice to have buttons on the steering wheel; in too many competitor cars (Volkswagen Group ones, notably), it’s easy to mis-swipe or touch an icon while turning the wheel.