Peugeot seems to be expanding its 308 range with a never ending explosion of new models. Ian Robertson tests the new automated manual version
Choice is something that Peugeot has never been afraid of offering customers, with a seemingly endless list of derivatives, engines and trim levels. And while the three HDi engines have been available since the 308 was launched last year, it isn’t until recently that automatic versions have become available for those that prefer two-pedal motoring.
There’s a choice of two routes, with either the 136bhp, 2.0-litre HDi with six-speed automatic gearbox, or 1.6-litre HDi coupled with the 110bhp engine and with an automated manual gearbox. The latter is the model that is tested here. It uses an updated version of the transmission that has seen service in the 308’s sister model, the Citroën C4, and while that model has been criticised for its jerky nature, Peugeot says that the software has been refined for the 308 and is a generation ahead of its French counterpart. Climbing behind the wheel and setting off, it’s all too apparent that the EGC transmission doesn’t offer the kind of seamless gearchanges that some more conventional automatics offer.
But there are two important things to remember. Firstly, this is an automated manual gearbox, so you will need to adjust your driving style so that it is similar to that of a manual car, albeit without a clutch. Once you get that in your mind, and lift off of the throttle at the time of the change, progress can be a little bit smoother, although I found it difficult to match the kind of change that VW’s DSG gearbox offers, for example. And this is the same whether you choose to leave the gearshift in ‘drive’, or choose to use the paddleshifts that are located behind the steering wheel. The other big advantage with the EGC is that it offers lower CO2 emissions and around a ten per cent improvement in fuel economy, resulting in your annual tax disc costing just £35. Some superminis even struggle to achieve those kind of figures these days.
Gearbox aside, you could never describe the 308 as a class leading hatch like you could the Focus or Golf, but what we have here is a thoroughly likeable car that is well equipped and user friendly. In SE specification as tested here, it comes with the Cielo glass roof, which gives the cabin a lighter and more airy feel. Equipment levels are high, with four electric windows, electric folding door mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and 16-inch alloy wheels all fitted as standard. At £18,845, it isn’t cheap though, and better value may be found lower down in the 308 model range.
ON SALE: Now RANGE STARTS AT: £16,945 for S HDi 110 EGC 5-door
- Price: £18,845
- Engine: 1560cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed automated manual
- Max Power: 110bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 180lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,520kg
- Combined Consumption: 62.7mpg
- CO 2 Emissions (taxband): 120g/km (B)
- 0-62mph: 12.5secs
- Max speed: 117mph
- Insurance group: 7
Sweet engine, interior much better built than previous Peugeot’s, low emissions
Difficult to get used to and make smooth progress in automatic mode, looks aren’t to all tastes