First report: our Peugeot 308 PHEV’s styling and performance are getting praise, but what about its economy?
4.0 out of 5
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Weight is the Peugeot 308 Hybrid’s weakness, because it really impacts the efficiency of both the electric motor and petrol engine. However, the hatchback has plenty of plus points and it now feels like a premium product more than ever.
- Mileage: 4,613
- Economy: 84.4mpg
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Plug-in hybrids have always seemed like a bit of a stopgap to me. I see them as little more than an introduction for those who want to go electric, but still want the security of extra range for longer journeys.
But what are they actually like to live with on a daily basis? The new Peugeot 308 Hybrid is the first PHEV I’ve run on the Auto Express fleet, so I’m keen to find out if they have something else to offer.
The big issue I have with plug-in hybrids is weight. If you’re running in electric mode, you’re carrying around a big combustion engine at the front. If the petrol engine is doing all the work, then you’re carrying around the weight of a dead battery. Both scenarios result in poor economy and that’s certainly been the case with the 308 so far.
I’ve been driving it in electric mode as much as possible since taking delivery and I’ve been especially disappointed with the efficiency, which has averaged around only 2.0 miles per kWh. That’s less than half of what you can expect to achieve from some of the best pure-electric cars. It means that I’ve only been able to coax around 24 miles of range from the 12.4kWh battery – some way down on Peugeot’s claimed 37 miles – and that’s before the cold weather of winter hammers it further still.
I’m not alone in my thinking, because Auto Express reader Victor Hedges recently contacted me to say how disappointed he is with the efficiency of his Peugeot. He drives a 3008 Hybrid4 and has been getting no more than 22 miles of range, despite the brand’s claims that he should be achieving closer to 39 miles.
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Once you’ve used up the battery on our 308, the situation isn’t much better, because the 1.6-litre petrol engine alone struggles with the weight and only returns around 32mpg. Whichever way you drive, you’ll be replenishing the Peugeot regularly.
Just a couple of years ago that probably wouldn’t be such a big issue, because it was still relatively cheap to top up the battery. But rising energy costs mean it’s not such an attractive proposition these days. Paying the current national average of 18p per kWh to charge at home means a full charge is going to cost £2.23. And, due to the poor efficiency, you may have to charge almost daily depending on how often you drive.
I’m quite lucky because my wife is able to charge for free at her nearby workplace, and when she borrows the PHEV, she brings it home with a nearly full charge. So we’ve actually enjoyed relatively cost-free motoring, but how many people have this luxury? You now have to pay to charge at Tesco and it’s surely only a matter of time before others follow suit.
But it’s not all bad news for plug-ins because they do work well when it comes to performance. The 308 Hybrid we have on our fleet is the lower-powered model with 178bhp (a 222bhp model is also available), but it’s genuinely quick when in ‘Sport’ mode. Press the accelerator hard when going for an overtake and the electric motor kicks in to add an extra punch. The sprint from 0-62mph officially takes 7.6 seconds, and it feels every bit as fast as that, although the automatic gearbox is a bit clunky.
Aside from the weight issues, the new Peugeot 308 has otherwise been a pleasant surprise, especially inside. The cabin is a lovely place to sit, and feels like a giant leap forward from its predecessor. It has a premium feel, maybe not quite up to BMW or Audi standards, but it’s not too far behind.
The infotainment system is slick and the high-resolution display means everything is crystal clear. Just below the screen is a set of ‘i-Toggles’ instead of physical buttons and they can take a bit of getting used to, but they are configurable, so you can set them up just the way you like it, with the controls you use the most at your fingertips.
I was initially worried about a lack of space after running a series of SUVs on our fleet, but so far it’s been okay. I have two children and neither has complained about the rear legroom, and the boot has swallowed everything it’s needed to, although a true test will come when we’ve managed to take some longer journeys.
|Model:||Peugeot 308 Hybrid 180 Allure Premium|
|On fleet since:||October 2022|
|Engine:||1.6-litre petrol + e-motor, 178bhp|
|Options:||Pearlescent paint (£695)|
|Insurance*:||Group: 26 Quote: £709|
|Any problems?||None so far|
*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.
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