The 308 is affordable to buy and it looks attractive, but choose carefully
Refinement and abundant equipment
Good crash protection
Low running costs and value for money
Reliability upsets
Small, awkward hatchback boot and poor rearward visibility
Uncomfortable offset driving position and unsettled suspension

Peugeot 308 Mk1 review (2007-2013)

Pretty, practical, overworked

More Info

What is the Peugeot 308?

Peugeot’s 308 is not just a pretty face: it’s a refined and practical small family car that has a lot to offer besides its faintly feline features and elegant outline. It comes in hatchback and estate (SW) formats and as a coupé convertible (CC) with folding hard-top roof; engines range from the super-economical 92bhp 1.6 HDi diesel to a 163bhp 2.0 HDi and the 200bhp 1.6 THP turbocharged petrol, and there’s a wide variety of trim options. Whichever you choose, it’ll be an attractive package – and secondhand prices are very manageable.

The 308 is a heavy car and not the sharpest drive, but it’s agile enough and adept around corners under most normal (and legal) speeds and conditions, with steering that is direct, if not especially engaging. The five-speed gearbox of 1.4 and 1.6 VTi petrol models and entry-level diesels is vague and clunky, however; the six-speed is far better.

Search for and buy a used Peugeot 308

Neither the 1.4 nor the 1.6 VTi petrol is particularly fast – the smaller engine is just about adequate to propel this chunky car, but no more – and the 1.6 HDi diesel is a bit of a plodder as well; it’s more about economy (67.3mpg from the standard 1.6 HDi 90, and 64.2 from the 1.6 e-HDi 110 with stop-start). The 1.4 VTi petrol returns a very respectable 47.1mpg, too, and will be a cheaper option to buy and run for low-mileage drivers. The 1.6 THP turbo is more fun than the VTi and barely any less economical at 40-42mpg, depending on power output; conversely, the 2.0 HDi diesels are thirstier but offer little performance advantage over the 1.6s in real-life driving. The hot-hatch model is the 200bhp THP GT.

Not everyone will feel at home in the cockpit, with its slightly offset steering wheel and pedals, its poor view to the rear, obstructed by thick roof pillars, and its ride that’s sometimes unsettled, although more forgiving than that of a Focus or Astra. The 308’s cabin is otherwise a pleasant place to be, however, with good-quality plastics, a well-designed dashboard and well-shaped seats, but rear legroom is on the tight side and the boot of the hatchbacks quite small (348 litres). The 308 SW addresses this problem: 573 litres with the rear seats in place, and a whopping 2,149 litres with them folded, plus a more accessible, lower load-bay floor – and the option of a seven-seat layout.

The 308 underlines its position as a sensible choice by scoring high on safety: five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, at least six airbags and stability control in all but the entry-level versions. Equipment levels are generally high, with the later Access entry-level versions having air-conditioning, electric windows and an MP3-compatible CD player.

What to look out for  when buying a used Peugeot 308 Mk 1

Peugeot has been picking up its performance in reliability and customer satisfaction surveys, and the 308 has proved better than some of its more fragile predecessors, though its results were poor in the 2011 JD Power survey (it beat the Astra and Fiat Bravo, but that’s about it) and not much better in 2012 (ahead of the Astra, Focus, A-class, C30 and i30, but still 12th in its class). There are a few known problems with the 1.6 HDi diesel, including rattling from the engine mounts and premature clutch failure, and some owners have complained that they cannot achieve anywhere near the claimed mpg. Owners have also reported overheating and turbo issues with the 1.6 THP (a BMW-Mini engine), brake problems, fluid leaks and the odd quality defect including poor-fitting trim and malfunctioning audio systems. Watch out for very hard-worked former hire cars and abused ex-fleet cars.

The 308 has been recalled 17 times (at last count) since its launch in late 2007, for electrical glitches, numerous brake faults, fuel leaks, a potential loss of power steering and even a collapsing driver’s seat; most recent recalls have been for problems with steering, shock absorbers, faulty rear windscreen seals and fuel leaks which could lead to an engine fire.


The one to buy

Peugeot 308 1.6 THP 150 Sport


1598cc, 4 cylinders, turbo
156bhp @ 6000rpm
177 lb ft @ 1400rpm
6-speed manual
0-62mph in 8.8sec
Top speed:
42.2mpg (combined)
Road tax band:
L 4276mm, W 1879mm, H 1498mm

Peugeot 308 rivals