Peugeot’s new Golf-fighter

New 308 hopes to rebuild french brand’s sales in Europe

Mon, May 13, 2013, 12:59

This is the first official image of Peugeot’s new 308, a car which will be crucial not only in the hotly-contested family hatchback market but for the future of Peugeot as a whole.

Badly stung by falling sales in its key European markets and lacking the sort of global presence which is helping to keep rivals’ heads above water, Peugeot badly needs a big hit and the slick styling of the new 308 has been calculated to bring mass appeal to the car.

That’s an appeal which was sorely lacking from the previous generation model, which had challenging styling to say the least and which Peugeot’s own designers now admit looked almost like it was trying to be a saloon, thanks to a pronounced ‘bustle’ effect on the boot.

The new 308 is also the second car to be shown using PSA Peugeot Citroen’s new EMP2 platform. We’ve already seen the Citroen C4 Picasso launch on this chassis and it will form a crucial cornerstone of PSA’s potential revival.

Like the rival Volkswagen MQB system, it’s not a chassis in traditional terms but a highly flexible components set which will allow multiple models, including replacements for the Citroen C4, Peugeot 508, Citroen C5 and others, to be built from the same basic box of bits.

On top of which, it makes for a significantly lighter car than before, and the new 308 is reported to be around 70kg lighter, model for model, than today’s car.

The 308 will debut with the existing 1.6-litre and 1.4-litre eHDI diesel engines and it’s unlikely that Gowan Distributors, the Irish Peugeot importer, will bother offering a petrol version in a market that has swung so sharply to diesel.

Nonetheless, Peugeot will be offering new low-pressure turbo and naturally aspirated petrol models in other markets, and there is the chance that, if the new sporty, smaller 208 GTI is a success, that Peugeot will seek to reclaim its old hot-hatch crown from the VW Golf GTI and offer a 200bhp+ 208 GTI at some point.