Peugeot 308 GT PHEV review: turns out the greenest one is the fastest one, too

David Linklater
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Photos / David Linklater, supplied


Base price
Maximum power kW
Range (km)
0-100 km/h
  • An EV with loads of character
  • Premium look and feel
  • Low and sleek (so not like an SUV)
  • Vastly more expensive than petrol model
  • 345kg weight gain
  • Batteries eat into bootspace

The Peugeot 308 has always been an interesting small-medium family hatch, albeit with ups and downs in design, quality and technology since the first one appeared in 2007.

The third-generation model, on the other hand, looks and feels like the company has thrown everything it’s got into the project. It’s a stunning machine that comfortably sits alongside entry models from premium makers like Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

Yes, we know Peugeot has been saying that for years when it launches new models. But the 308 has real cred this time around. It makes you go “ooh” and “aah” in all kinds of ways. It’s also the first model to have the brand’s new badge, which somebody genuinely confused with Lamborghini during our time with the car.

Anyway, naturally there’s an electric version in the range. The 308 GT plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is new to New Zealand, but we’ve seen bits of it before. The 308 has been available in petrol-only form since last year and the PHEV system, which pairs a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine to a battery/single electric motor combo that gives a claimed 61km range, is similar to that used in the Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV.

Add another electric motor and you also have the Peugeot 3008 GT Hybrid4 (AWD), although that's even further up the price and performance range.

We’ve been deeply impressed with the 308 to date: both the exterior design and interior quality/tech, including a configurable infotainment and shortcut “i-toggles” touch-control display (although it definitely takes a bit of time to learn your way through all the menu layers).

Dynamically, it’s a nice blend of precise steering and controlled ride. Sporty but not overly firm – a little bit like Peugeot hatchbacks used to be, back in the day (ask your parents).

That’s the 308 GT. But what about the 308 GT PHEV? Engines deploy! The power and tech is ramped up significantly over the standard car’s 1.2-litre turbo triple, which makes a modest (but fun) 96kW/230Nm. The PHEV delivers a hot hatch-like 165kW/360Nm from its combined power sources, slicing more than two seconds off the 0-100km/h time.

These are big gains over the standard GT and frankly, they need to be. The PHEV adds a whopping $21,000 to the price of the petrol model, which is otherwise identical in look and specification. Add in our test car’s Premium Pack, with Nappa leather, AGR ergonomic driver’s seat (fantastic), heating/massage for both front pews, Focal sound system and special 18-inch diamond-cut alloys, and you’ve almost cracked $80k. Almost, but not quite – which means you still get a Clean Car Discount, although it's no longer a flat PHEV rate under the Government's revised rules.

As a PHEV, it’s competent. The 12.4kWh battery takes about seven hours overnight to charge (or 3.5hrs on a home 7.4kW AC quick charger) and gives about 45km real-world running, despite the 61km claim. That’s still good for daily commuting, but merely average in these days of 80km-plus PHEVs.

EV running does showcase the impeccable refinement of the 308, and the busy-looking digital dashboard (again, you get the hang of it all in time) gives you a clear running total of the range/charge left.

Delve into the infotainment menu and you can also select a Save mode that will use the petrol engine to actively charge the battery – more a feature for European cities that have zero-emissions zones, but we did flick it on occasionally during motorway running to keep the battery in play for later urban use.

Otherwise, it’s really easy to flick between Electric and Hybrid settings on the drive-mode controller; but also not really necessary. The car prioritisies EV driving if there’s charge and simply switches to petrol-electric when there’s not.

Both throttle and brakes can be a bit touchy in EV mode, but that’s not unusual for PHEVs. The GT truly perks up when you hit Hybrid/Sport. Make no mistake, this is supposed to be a properly warmed-up hatch: there’s a lesser-powered 132kW 308 PHEV in Europe, so this is definitely a go-faster model.

It’s not rip-snorting off the line, but this is an entertainingly brisk machine. Quite a bit of character thanks to everything that’s going on when you’re pressing on, too: electric motor, turbo-petrol engine and an eight-speed gearbox.

It does sound pretty weird, though. The GT PHEV’s cabin is heavily insulated, presumably to get the extreme refinement EV buyers expect. But when the engine’s at full song, it’s a strangely distant soundtrack, which is at odds with the engine’s gruff notes.

With an extra 345kg weight over the standard model, the PHEV was never going to be nimble. But it says “GT” on the back, not “GTi”, so that’s okay. The chassis does still feel exceptionally well-sorted over winding roads, flowing beautifully from bend to bend. The rear axle is especially well planted; even if you lift off mid-corner, the car stays remarkably stable.

The extra weight might actually help in that respect, since some of the extra PHEV hardware is at the back. It’s the reason the boot shrinks from 412 litres in the standard GT to just 361 in the electric model. Which lacks a power tailgate, by the way. Even though it costs $75k.

For the most part this is a real feel-good machine, in terms of both stunning design and an engaging driving experience. You do have to come to terms with the price; it goes without saying you could buy a comparable pure-electric vehicle for less; Tesla Model 3 springs to mind.

But that presupposes BEVs are more desirable than PHEVs. People who choose the latter value zero-emissions commuting power, but also want to retain zero-anxiety long-distance driving ability and maybe also the sensory delights of a combustion engine/multi-gear transmission. If the numbers work for your, the 308 GT presents a pretty interesting PHEV.

And yes, there is a 308 BEV to be launched in Europe mid-year, with a 54kW battery and 400km-plus range. Nothing plug-in gets to NZ quickly, especially Peugeot/Citroen product; but stay tuned.

ENGINE: 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four with plug-in hybrid system, 12.4kWh battery and single electric motor
POWER: 165kW/320Nm (combined hybrid system); 132kW/250Nm (petrol engine), 81kW/320Nm (electric motor)
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic (e-8AT), FWD
0-100KM/H: 7.5 seconds
CONSUMPTION: 1.0l/100km (3P-WLTP), EV range 61km (claimed)
PRICE: $74,990


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