2014 Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline e-HDi 115 Review – Perception Changer

Good exterior looks, visually pleasing, comfortable & contemporary cabin, 115 engine good all-rounder

Small steering wheel partially blocks vision of instrument panel

2014 Peugeot 308?

The 2014 Peugeot 308 - A whole lot better looking than last year.

Compare the new 308 to its 2013 predecessor, and the difference is astounding. For myself, the old version was an ugly, nondescript-looking thing offering exactly zero in the way of desirability, and the interior lacked any sort of charisma or design flair. In short: it was entirely dull and lacklustre and exactly the sort of car you buy if you have no interest in cars at all.

For 2014 though, Peugeot seem to have turned the whole thing around. How? We were sent the 2014 Peugeot 308 Feline e-HDi 115 to take a look at and let you know just that…

Exterior. Butt-ugly or beauty?

Not a single doubt that this is a Peugeot! Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline e-HDi 115

Blimey. The Peugeot delivery guy seems to have dropped off the wrong vehicle, for sat on the driveway is a rather attractive car, and let’s be honest, few Peugeots of recent past can be described as that. This new 308 though, seems to have left all that behind in one fell swoop. There’s now an air of elegance about it, and it’s much more mature-looking than Peugeot’s previous efforts.

The front end is striking, especially the top two models (Allure, Feline) which feature full-LED headlights that lends them a classy, upmarket edge. Even the base 308 boasts daytime LED running lights, which is great. From a frontal viewpoint, there’s actually a fair amount going on and it’s bordering on fussy, for example, there’s a huge lower grille with fog lamps and their surrounds either side, then above that there’s another smaller grille, the involved all-LED headlight clusters and then the bonnet with numerous design lines across it.

Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline - The wheels have been pushed outwards for a wider track and in turn a more planted ride, but this also serves to make it look decently sporty, especially from the rear.

However, while it’s bordering on being overdone it’s still a very likeable and stylish looker. The top grille is chrome and features ‘Peugeot’ imprinted across the central section, which looks great next to those effective LED lights, and the bonnets lines make it look imposing and muscular.

While the 308 5-door hatch is a decent size, this is hidden so well that people assume it’s small inside, which it isn’t. The wheels have been pushed outwards for a wider track and in turn a more planted ride, but this also serves to make it look decently sporty, especially from the rear.

I really like the 2014 Peugeot 308 hatchback. Style-wise, they've really turned things around with their new models and I'm honestly glad they've made such a sorted-looking car.

There’s a fair amount of cars out there that superb from the front, but side on they’re just a slab of metal and glass with no thought gone into them. Thankfully, the new 308 has a couple of bold swage lines to keep things interesting and from above there’s a black panoramic glass roof (standard on the Feline), adding chic to the very reasonably-priced 308. Peugeot have even managed to make the rear look nice, with LED ‘claw effect’ lamps and a clean design.

Overall, I really like the 2014 Peugeot 308 hatchback. Style-wise, they’ve really turned things around with their new models and I’m honestly glad they’ve made such a sorted-looking car.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

Peugeot have moved almost everything over to fully digital, and you'll control almost everything off a large 9.7 inch colour touchscreen.

Peugeots from just a few years ago have notoriously shonky interiors. Bits of trim and switchgear would break or become loose and flap about randomly, and cheap knock-hard plastics coloured in the drabbest of hues adorned the cabin. Overall they were about as desirable as a punch in the face and as well built as a Soviet-era Skoda. Terrible stuff, and Peugeot now have the unenviable task of overcoming that reputation.

Well, I’m here to tell you that the 2014 Peugeot 308 is a very large leap forward – Astronaut-like, in fact. Peugeot are going for the clean, uncluttered look with their new 308, and while bottom of the range ‘Access’ model still has the usual buttons for controlling the heating and stereo settings, for all the models above save for just five switches Peugeot have moved almost everything over to fully digital, and you’ll control almost everything off a large 9.7 inch colour touchscreen. Even the most basic model comes well-equipped, and you’ll still get cruise control with speed limiter, air conditioning, DAB radio, a USB connector and Bluetooth.

Peugeot are calling this their i-cockpit, and say it consists of four integrated components: a compact steering wheel, a high-positioned 'head up' instrument panel, a enhancing high centre console and the large touch screen.

Peugeot are calling this their i-cockpit, and say it consists of four integrated components: a compact steering wheel, a high-positioned ‘head up’ instrument panel, a enhancing high centre console and the aforementioned large touch screen. Breaking those components down, the steering wheel is unusually small and any normal-sized version feels like you’re using one from a tractor. It’s comfortable though, and strangely it does give you more of a sense that you’re having more input when driving.

On this point though, I found with both this car and the 208 GTi that top of the small steering wheel blocks out some of the view of the instrument panel, and I found myself having to lower the ‘wheel down and heighten the seat to see the full panel properly. Okay, I’m not exactly on the tall side, but that doesn’t normally effect the view of the instrument panel in other cars and it did mean that I end up sat like I was driving an MPV; steering wheel almost in lap, seat up high.

The touchscreen itself is a really good system, and a little like using a built-in tablet. It has contemporary, smooth graphics, a simple and ergonomic layout for each menu.

The touchscreen itself is a really good system, and a little like using a built-in tablet. It has contemporary, smooth graphics, a simple and ergonomic layout for each menu, you can connect to WiFi through it should there be a signal in range, and there’s loads of ways to connect different devices to it for your music. You can even load photographs onto it via the USB, although I still can’t see the point in that to be honest. The sat nav is a good one, and again graphics are decent. The only slight negative I could find with the system overall is that occasionally when quickly switching between the menus down each side of the screen, things slowed down a little and I found myself pushing the button a couple of times before it switched over. Aside from that, it is a nice thing to use and I think it’s the way ahead for manufacturers.

The rest of the cabin is very upmarket, with big pieces of smart, angular satin-finished trim surrounds and sections of piano-black, plus lots of rubberised soft-touch panels. Even the manual gearstick is nice to look at and use, and there’s clearly been a lot of thought gone into it. The Feline-spec 308 gets a large panoramic glass roof  as well, and it finishes off an already-classy interior beautifully and makes for a very airy cabin space.

Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline Review - The rest of the cabin is very upmarket, with big pieces of smart, angular satin-finished trim surrounds and sections of piano-black, plus lots of rubberised soft-touch panels.

Sit in the driver’s seat, close the door and you’re fully surrounded thanks to a high centre console. This definitely makes the driving experience a more personal one, and I got the feeling I was more pilot than driver because of the high console, slick dash and cool instrument cluster.

Up front, the seats are comfortable, supportive with high bolsters, which make for a sung fit. Our ‘Feline’ spec tester had the option of Nappa leather seats fitted, which are heated and massage the lower back too. These seats are a £1,200 option (June ’14) and while they’re nice ‘n’ all the massage function isn’t really all that (more of a gentle push in the back really) and it’s a lot of money on a car costing under £22,000.

Front and rear seats on the Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline e-HDi 115

Rear passengers reported fairly decent legroom and comfortable seating, even in the middle which is unusual by todays standards, making for five real seats. Boot space is impressive, with just over 500 litres rear seats in place and over 1,300 litres with them down.

Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline e-HDi 115 Review - Boot space is impressive, with just over 500 litres rear seats in place and over 1,300 litres with them down. Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline e-HDi 115 Review - Boot space is impressive, with just over 500 litres rear seats in place and over 1,300 litres with them down.

All said, the Peugeot 308’s cabin really is a lovely space to be in. My recommendation though, is to find a few quid extra in your budget and spec your 308 above the basic Access model, as the interior then looks as I think Peugeot wanted it too; clean, uncluttered and refined. Well done Peugeot designers, I think you’ve cracked it with this one!

Engine & gearbox

The 308 is available with a good range of petrol and diesel engines, but we were sent the 1.6 litre e-HDi 115 turbo-diesel. This is a 4-cylinder, 8-valve unit putting out 115 bhp at 3,600 rpm and 200 lb ft (270 Nm) of torque at 1,750 rpm. 0 – 62 mph is done in a none-too-fast 11.9 seconds, and you’ll get to 118 mph max speed.

Official stats (UK mpg) read as: urban: 64.2, extra urban: 80.7, Combined: 74.3, and it puts out 100 g/km of CO2, which at the current rate (June ’14) means you’ll pay exactly zero tax per year. The gearbox is a 6-speed manual, with no automatic available with the 1.6 e-HDi.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline e-HDi 115 Review-6766

Fire the 1.6 litre e-HDi into life using the satin-finished starter button behind the gearstick (standard on this Feline version), and it’s noticeably quiet. Yes, from the exterior there’s the familiar chug of a 4-cylinder diesel, but inside Peugeot have made sure there’s plenty of sound-deadening to keep you separated from this, and it adds to the overall refined feel of the 308.

The clutch is nice and light – perfect for driving in stop-start traffic – and gear changes from the six-speed ‘box are really positive too. With the maximum torque kicking in at just 1,750 rpm, the 1.6 turbo-diesel makes driving urban and tight country roads a breeze when you’re constantly having to slow and accelerate again. The Stop & Start system works well in that rather than you having to reach a certain speed again after cutting in, you can move forward slowly even for a just a couple of feet and the system will cut the engine again. Great for those long rush-hour traffic light queues.

I settled down very quickly into this Peugeot, and it really did feel good to drive. The suspension soaks up the nasty potholes and gouges in the tarmac well, making for a comfortable ride for both front and rear passengers, while still providing a stable and decently planted drive when you’re on a quick, winding road. The electric power steering suits the Peugeot 308, and it’s responsive enough to be happy with considering you’re not exactly going to buy this thing for its go-kart like handling prowess.

Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline e-HDi 115 Review-6822

The one-point-six e-HDi turbocharged diesel provides more pulling power than I expected, and while it’s not exactly the quickest car off the line, this car is more about rolling speed and you’ll find a smooth and strong wave of torque through the gears, getting you up to the motorway limit and beyond without any trouble, and thanks to a long 6th gear I found the 308 made long-distance cruising entirely undemanding. 80 mph sees the rpm needle sitting at just 2,000, and this also means you’ll be getting good fuel economy. Over a 160-mile motorway journey we managed 57.5 miles-per-gallon with the cruise set at around the limit for most of the way.

On that note, the Feline edition gets Dynamic Cruise Control, meaning it’ll slow and accelerate automatically without your input. Simply set the speed and the distance you want to travel to the car in front (from a one second gap upwards), and let it do its job. It’s an okay system, but nowhere near as seamless as the versions you get on Volvo’s or Jaguar’s. Still, it’s a respectable piece of kit for a car costing less than twenty-two grand.

Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline e-HDi 115 Review-6824

Safety-wise, the 308 has a good amount of tech on board and was awarded 5-stars by Euro NCAP. There’s front, front side, and curtain airbags, and helping to keep the car on the road are ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBFD), Emergency Braking Assist (EBA) plus an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with hill assist.  Standard on the Feline edition (optional on the Allure model) is emergency alert and braking too.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by just how decent the engine, ride, and drive was from the Peugeot 308 1.6 e-HDi. It’s much more refined that you’d expect from a car that starts at just over £17,000, and I’m won over by this particular Pug.

Price

(Prices correct June 2014) There are many variants of the Peugeot 308, so we’ll stick the 1.6 e-HDi manual version. It’s price of £17,245 to £21,745 is extremely competitive, and I think you’re getting a very well-spec’d car for the money. You’ll get the same quality of ride and drive regardless of which model you go for, and so it’s down to your budget and taste as to which spec you want.

My recommendation is to go for anything above the basic access model. The cabin looks so much better simplified and without all the extra switchgear, and for that alone it’s worth the cost. Without that layout, this is just another car and won’t feel special or unique.

Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline 1.6 e-HDi 115 verdict & score

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If there’s a car to change the public perception of Peugeot’s being shoddily-built, tasteless, run-of-the-mill machines, then I believe the 308 is the answer to those critics. Certainly, it is for me. The cabin is airy and comfortable, and has a premium design and feel to it, made with well-chosen materials that are bolted together properly. The exterior is purposeful and attractive – especially with a set of the larger alloy wheels – and it looks more expensive than it is.

I genuinely liked my time with the Peugeot, and it’s actually a pleasurable thing to be in and drive. The Peugeot 308 1.6 e-HDi delivers well on almost every front and for the money, this is a very tempting car indeed!

Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline e-HDi 115 verdict & score

Do you own a 2014 Peugeot 308? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  8
Interior  8
Engine  7.5
Gearbox  7.5
Price  8
Handling & ride  7.5
Drive  8
Overall Score  8.0 / 10

Specs

Model (as tested)  2014 Peugeot 308 5-Door Feline e-HDi 115
Spec includes  18″ alloy wheels, panoramic glass roof, half alcantara seats, keyless entry & ignition, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, emergency collision & braking system, 9.7″ touchscreen with sat nav, reverse camera, DAB radio & USB connection, full LED headlamps,  See website for more info
Options you should spec  Metallic paint (£525)
The Competition  Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Citroen C4, Kia CEE’D, Hyundai i30, Mazda 3, Toyota Auris,
Price  (June 2014): £22,695
Engine   1.6 litre in-line 4-cylinder, 8-valve, turbocharged diesel
Power, Torque  115 bhp @ 3,600 rpm and 200 lb ft | Torque: 200 lb ft (270 Nm) @ 1,750 rpm
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Front wheel drive | 6-speed manual
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed (limited): 118 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 11.9 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: 5 stars
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 64.2, Extra urban: 80.7, Combined: 74.3 | CO2: 100 g/km
Weight (kerb)  1,395 kg’s (3,075 lbs)
Websites  Peugeot UK, Peugeot France, Peugeot global

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

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