Although we’ve seen many hybrids, and more recently, plug-in hybrids come through the production lines, we have never seen a PHEV applied in a small hatch.
French carmarker, Peugeot, has taken the lead with the 308 GT Sport Plug-in Hybrid. It combines the power of a 1.6-litre turbo engine with a plug-in chargeable 12.4kWh lithium-Ion battery.
It joins three existing variants in the 308 range – the GT hatch and the GT Premium hatch and wagon – which all come with a 1.2-litre turbo three-cylinder engine.
2023 Peugeot 308 GT Sport Hybrid: Specifications
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder
Battery: 12.4kWh lithium-ion, 60km range
Output (combined): 165kW / 360Nm
Gearbox: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 18×8.0, 225/40
ANCAP: Four stars
Tare weight: 1611kg
Power-to-weight: 9.76:1 (kg:kW)
Official consumption: 1.4L/100km
Our consumption: 5.7L/100km
Fuel tank/Fuel type: 40L/95 RONPower efficiency: 117.85kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.70 seconds*
0-100km/h: 7.16 seconds*
60-110km/h: 4.55 seconds*
1/4 mile: 15.16 seconds at 160.0km/h*
Max acceleration: 1.235g*
100-0km/h braking: 40.26m in 3.06 seconds*
Max deceleration: -1.528g*
Decibel at idle: 44*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 79*
Starting price: $64,990
*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different
2023 Peugeot 308 GT Sport Hybrid: How much does it cost?
Brace yourself. The asking price for a semi-luxurious, potentially very economical small hatch might shock you. This start from $64,990 (excluding on-road costs). That is $21k more than the most affordable GT 308 – which already has a steep starting price of $43,990. Some redemption could be gained in the fact that this is not a standard hybrid. It is a plug-in hybrid, meaning it is capable of being a fully electric car if your lifestyle can accommodate.
There is currently only one other hatch PHEV to compare the 308’s price to. That is a Cupra Leon VZe, which retails from $3300 less, at $61,690. Though, it comes with a faster Golf GTI engine. You can also pick up other larger SUV plug-in hybrids for fewer dollars; the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV from $56,490, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV from $47,290, MG HS Plus EV from $48,990, and the Ford Escape ST-Line PHEV from $54,940.
2023 Peugeot 308 GT Sport Hybrid: Interior & packaging
Being a small hatch, interior room is not the 308’s strongpoint. The front row accommodates two adults comfortably, but the rear is a little tighter if you’re set in for a long trip. Though, plenty of under-seat foot room helps matters. Taller passengers will need to duck their heads a fair bit to climb in, and there is no centre fold-down armrest.
Boot space is liveable for a small hatch. The batteries do cause the boot to be shallower than the non-hybrid. It measures 361 litres, or 51 litres smaller than the non-hybrid hatch.
Seating is notably luxurious and comfort-focused – typical from the French brands. You get plush Nappa leather seat trim with ‘Tramontane’ charcoal grey stitching, heated driver and front passenger seats with massaging functions as standard, and contours that help you feel well-supported over bumps. The steering wheel sits lower than most with the objective for your line of sight to go above the wheel to view the cluster. It may be problematic for shorter drivers.
Interior design also speaks to the price of 308, with elegant cues, modern digital layouts, premium feel, soft-touch materials, lots of leather, and lined door pockets. We appreciate the handy pockets and spaces spread about the front row.
The 308 plug-in hybrid exhibits Peugeot’s “3D i-Cockpit” which encompasses a very high-quality 10-inch touch-screen and 10-inch digital instrument cluster. It is wonderfully easy and intuitive to use, but the animations between switching menus slows things down a tad. The large shortcut menu buttons separated out into their own screen that never change are a great idea.
A huge fly in the 308 ointment is its four-star ANCAP safety rating. Nowadays, it’s very common for cars to achieve five-star standards, especially considering the 308’s price and premium attitude. The penalty is due to the lack of a centre airbag. If you can stomach that fly, there is a myriad of other important safety features that come as standard, including autonomous emergency braking with low light pedestrian and cyclist detection, rear cross-traffic alert, long range blind-spot detection, lane departure warning with unmarked road edge detection, active lane positioning assist, adaptive cruise with stop and go function, driver attention warning, and tyre pressure sensors.
Other notable features include a 360-degree parking camera view, auto-dipping door mirror in reverse gear, LED projection puddle lamps, eight-colour customisable ambient lighting, rear passenger air vents, an exceptional 10-speaker Focal sound system, wireless phone charging, wireless and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, full LED matrix headlights, brilliant rear full LED 3D ‘claw effect’ taillights, 18-inch ‘Portland’ matte black alloy wheels, and a panoramic opening sunroof.
2023 Peugeot 308 GT Sport Hybrid: Powertrain & handling
When you jump up to the plug-in hybrid powertrain, you also gain a more powerful ‘PureTech’ four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that produces 132kW and 250Nm on its own – a large jump from the 96kW 1.2-litre three-cylinder in other 308 models. Then the 12.4kWh, 40Ah lithium-Ion battery powers a front-mounted electric motor that produces 81kW and 320Nm on its own. Combined, maximum output is a vigorous 165kW and 360Nm.
Keyword being ‘plug-in’ means you can charge the batteries without just regenerative braking. You get a mode two charging cable supplied, which restricts capacity to 3.7kW. Plugging into a domestic socket using a 2.3kW single-phase 10A charger will take about 5.5 hours to charge to full. Depending on the charging type used, a public or home charging station can take approximately 3.5 hours to charge.
A full charge battery is advertised to offer 60km of electric-only driving using the WLTP testing standard. But it heavily depends on driving conditions, taking preference to slower city start/stop driving. As such, we were able to stretch it to 65km of electric-only travel. If your trip takes you on highway speeds, expect the range to reduce significantly to about 40km.
You can also defer charging via the multimedia screen, save battery power to your own discretion using the ‘e-SAVE’ function (for example, when you expect to travel slower speeds when the range will travel further), and select ‘B’ brake mode, which ups the levels of regenerative braking/deceleration resistance to charge the battery more.
Behind the wheel, you are offered a healthy amount of grunt and torque for a small hatch. We’re happy to see you finally gain power over the non-hybrid models. The 308 PHEV shows that plug-in hybrids can still offer a lively and exhilarating driving experience with performance in mind. The official 0-100km/h sprint is timed at 7.5-seconds. Our test revealed 7.16 seconds using a Vbox.
It is very rare for a PHEV to be paired to a multi-speed automatic transmission. Usually, they go with a boring CVT auto. When in EV mode, it’s bizarre to feel the gears run through with no engine noise to match. Interestingly, when in EV mode, the paddle shifters still seem to change gears, but the dash continues to display ‘D’ and there is no indication of what gear is selected as it does when the engine is running. There should be some better transparency here.
Official averages don’t mean much with plug-in hybrids. It depends heavily on how you drive them. Technically, you could never use the engine if your trips are no longer than 60km. On the other hand, if you never charge the batteries, expect the average petrol consumption to be about 5.7L/100km, as it was during our test. Not bad, when you consider the performance. Though, the more expensive 95 RON fuel is required.
The suspension is on the softer side, performing well at soaking up bumps and holes. Even so, the handling still feels agile and athletic. It helps that the steering is ultra-light with a small, sporty wheel to flick around quickly. Cornering feels composed and very planted.
Thanks to the lower centre of gravity of a hatch, you can push it hard around bends before it starts to give way. At the upper end of the driving spectrum, you will start to feel the extra weight, because the hybrid is around 350kg heavier than the regular petrol model.
2023 Peugeot 308 GT Sport Hybrid: Key attractions/reasons to buy
The external design is brilliantly sexy and eye-catching. We love it. The striking frameless grille, matte black alloy wheels, ‘three-claw’ rear LED lights, the craftsmanship of the vertical LED matrix front lights, and the stylish lighting sequence on locking/unlocking looks neat. It also holds onto the subtle overall silhouette of a Pug from the ’90s.
The active shadowing lighting is particularly precise, bright, clear and responsive compared with others on the market.
A heap of NVH preventions must have gone into this 308 as the engine is remarkably quiet. Even when revved, you can barely hear it.
Peugeot offers a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty with five years of complimentary roadside assistance. Servicing is only required every 12 months or 20,000km, which is atypical. You can also pre-purchase a servicing plan from Peugeot for $1200 for three services or three years, or $2000 for five services or five years.
2023 Peugeot 308 GT Sport Hybrid: Key considerations before you buy
Transitioning between the two sources of power is not as smooth as other hybrids we have tested. It’s nothing terrible or alarming, just a tad less seamless.
A small gripe we found was that the side mirror indicator lights wrap around to the view of the driver. It’s easy to get it confused with the blind-spot alert signal.
We are still catching our breath on that high asking price. $65k can get you into larger SUV PHEVs and leave you with some change. You could also jump into a range of more traditional premium hatchbacks from the German brands for this sort of money.
Lastly, the four-star ANCAP safety rating is an awkward calamity for Peugeot when you consider the asking price.
2023 Peugeot 308 GT Sport Hybrid: Video
How does it rate against its rivals?
We are spellbound by the Peugeot 308 PHEV’s astoundingly good-looking design, thrilling engine that proves economical doesn’t have to be boring, and the potential economy it can offer those with a compatible lifestyle. Maybe the 4-star ANCAP safety rating will be ignored by most, but the high asking price won’t be.