New Peugeot 308 Revealed ahead of Frankfurt

New Peugeot 308 19 photos
Photo: Peugeot
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French carmaker Peugeot is struggling with huge financial losses, overcapacity, a shrinking market share and the overall weakness of the European market. It's one biggest ray of hope is the 208 supermini, a car that managed to deliver 300,000 orders in a short time. Can they pull off the same trick in the family compact hatch segment?
A new generation of 308 C-segment, five-door hatch was just revealed today ahead of its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this year. Everything about it is different than the old model, except the name, which under their new naming system stays the same now.

The 308 will have to take on the most competitive segment in the market, where the Golf VII is dominating sales with a slew of new technologies. The French have built this new car around their EMP2 modular platform, which allowed them to shed an average of 140 kilograms from the equivalent spec 2012 hatch.

“On the road, driving pleasure is enhanced by the new EMP2 modular platform. With its considerable reduction in weight, it contributes to the dynamism and easy handling of the New Peugeot 308,” says Laurent Declerck, New 308 Project Director, Peugeot.

The new 308 represents an upmarket move for the company. The Lion brand says it's significantly increase the perceived quality, the overall fit and finish and the materials used.

"Every element, both inside and outside, has been developed and refined with exceptional attention to detail. The choice of high quality interior materials and the satin chrome or gloss black detailing add to the feeling of sophistication and maturity in the car’s design and assembly," Peugeot says.

Production will take place at their factory in Sochaux, while the engines will be delivered from Tremery and Douvrin.

Speaking of engines, they remain a secret for the moment, though many will be shared with the 208. In fact, cold hard facts are conspicuously missing from the official press release.

We do however have a full set of photos, which can tell us much about the 308's desirability. Peugeot calls its design "stunning", but we'd stop way short of that. The floating front grille is there, just like on the 208, but everything else seems intentionally boring, something often done to preserve a car's resale value. The closes design dousing for the 308 is the 2008 small crossover. The only way round the soft-spoken looks is to buy the car with good options

However, Peugeot surprised us by fitting full-LED headlights on the majority of trim levels and LED rear lamps as standard. The other big surprise is the size of the 308. It's 4,250mm tall, 25mm shorter than the old model.

The interior looks completely different than other C-segment hatches of the moment, which is not necessarily a good thing. The instruments are on top of the dash like on an MPV, and the steering wheel, while sporty and flat-bottomed, seems to restrict the view.

Other French quarks include a speedo that revs backwards, a minimal dash that still houses a CV player and the complete lack of buttons for the air conditioning, which have been replaced by a touchscreen. The start button is way back behind the gearshift lever, next to the toggle for the electronic handbrake.

“When inside the car, one discovers a world of refined style, completely original in the world of hatchback cars, with a cockpit that is intense, innovative and intuitive; it is the Peugeot i-cockpit,” says Vincent Devos, New 308 Product Manager, Peugeot.

Peugeot is actually respecting the digitalization trend, and has opted for a standard 9.7-inch touch-screen interface, which removes much of the need for physical buttons and switches, but we're still concerned traditional buyers won't like it.

The new Peugeot 308 will make its world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 10th September 2013, when more information about this innovative new model will be released. Sales will start shortly afterwards in mainland Europe and from January 2014 in the UK.

Is the Golf VII in trouble? Not likely, though we could be very wrong.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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