It has been a decade since we've seen a true C-segment Peugeot in the Philippines, with the demise of the 307. But with Peugeot Philippines' steady push for market volume and reach, we suppose the entry of the new 308 was all but inevitable. Contrary to appearances, however, this is not an evolution of the previous 308. Nor is it related to the 301, which is basically a long-wheelbase 208. Instead, it is built on the brand-new EMP2 platform, a state-of the-art modular system that forms the basis of many upcoming Peugeots and Citroens, including the next 508 midsize sedan.
As such, the 308 certainly feels grown-up, with refinement and interior quality to rival competitors from Volkswagen and Ford. Like those manufacturers, Peugeot is hedging its bets on downsized turbocharged engines, in this case, a pair of 1.6-liter in-line-fours. The 1.6 HDI diesel, likely the default choice for many buyers, puts out 120hp and 300Nm. The 1.6 THP, a detuned variant of the RCZ motor, still packs quite a bit of punch, with 150hp and 240Nm on tap. Both come standard with a six-speed automatic gearbox, whose traditional torque converter sidesteps some of the foibles of competitors' dual-clutch and continuously variable transmissions.
Intriguingly, the 308 is available only in hatchback and wagon form, the latter boasting 810L of cargo space with the seats up, and a massive 1,775L with the rear seats folded. Cargo rails and tie-downs come standard, as does a generously large underfloor compartment with more cubbies and shelves and a full-size spare. The higher-end "GT" trim will feature GT badging, quilted leather seats with sporty red contrast stitching, and 17-inch to 18-inch wheels.
All variants get LED cabin lights and running lights, as well as triple-projector LED headlights. Also standard across the range is a responsive 9.7-inch touchscreen that handles all vehicle infotainment and climate-control functions. This allows for a minimalist console, bereft of the usual confusion of switches, buttons and knobs that afflicts many new cars. The instrument cluster is mounted over the steering wheel (in your line of sight), and wide-set analog gauges with neat contra-rotating needles are designed specifically to clear the small, sporty tiller. It's an unusual system, but it actually works!
It's hard to make any assessment of sportiness or real-world road manners on our limited drive, but the 308 feels composed over all sorts of surfaces. Indeed, running the cars over a torturous rough-road testing strip reveals nary a rattle or squeak, even on cars equipped with 18-inch wheels. The 308 was not named European Car of the Year for nothing. Incredibly well-bolstered seats, a taut and well-damped suspension, and precise steering make us wish Peugeot would bring in the 205hp variant. We did get to sample, albeit briefly, the entry-level 1.2 turbo, but Peugeot reportedly has no plans of selling it here. At least not yet.
Here are the variants and the prices:
* 308 1.6L Petrol Allure Hatchback - P1,490,000
* 308 1.6L Diesel GT Line Hatchback - P1,890,000
* 308 1.6L Diesel Allure Station Wagon - P1,690,000
* 308 1.6L Diesel GT Line Station Wagon - P1,890,000
Sticking with an all-1.6T lineup creates breathing space between the 301, the 308 and the 508, extending Peugeot's market reach without diluting it. Though demand for C-segment cars is thin thanks to the crossover explosion, enthusiasts have always had a soft spot for Euro wagons. As such, we think this affordable turbocharged European estate will resonate with a number of buyers once it is officially launched.
Watch our exclusive video below, and check out the photo gallery at the bottom as well.
Photos by Mark Jesalva
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