Our French dictionaries suggest otherwise, but trois-cent-huit may very well translate to “Golf.” That’s because the new Peugeot 308, which just debuted earlier today, is Peugeot’s hope at competing against the new seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf range in Europe.
Aesthetically, the 308 is attractive, but doesn’t stray far outside Peugeot’s design boundaries. The 308 looks like a longer, wider, and more chiseled version of the B-segment 208 hatchback, which went on sale in Europe last year. Peugeot’s latest corporate face looks perhaps a little more sultry on the 308, as its grille is wider and less vertical, and its headlamps – complete with de rigeur LED accents – are longer and more dramatic. Swage lines formed by the front fenders and door panels carry through to the end of the car, where they help form the concave tail lamp assemblies.
Inside, the dashboard is an oddly minimalist and geometric affair. Following in the footsteps of the 208, the 308’s gauge cluster is placed high in the dashboard, which then sweeps down in an angular fashion to meet a 9.7-inch touchscreen display, set within a large, chromed, hexagonal recess. That display controls climate, audio, and infotainment systems, and also allows the 308 to ditch quite a few physical buttons, resulting in a center stack that boasts only five buttons, a volume knob, and a CD slot. It appears particular attention was paid to trim materials – on this particular car, we see a brushed metallic surround on the center console, chromed accents on the steering wheel, door pulls, and climate vents, and stitched leatherette
Beneath the flashy surface, the new Peugeot 308 rides upon the new EMP2 platform, which Peugeot’s corporate partner Citroen will use for its next-generation C4 Picasso. Peugeot says the architecture boasts extensive use of light materials including high-strength steel and magnesium, allowing the new car to shed as much as -- ironically – 308 pounds, the 307.
Sadly, firm details on either the platform or the Peugeot 308’s suite of engine options – described by press materials only as “a range of highly efficient petrol and diesel engines” -- are fleeting. Expect that to change come September, as the new Peugeot 308 will formally debut at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show.