Peugeot to continue leaning into premium pitch with its highly-specified and well-finished new 308 small car
Pricing has not yet been released for the new-generation Peugeot 308 in Australia that will launch by the end of 2022 – but the car is expected to be positioned as a more premium vehicle than the model it replaces in both presentation and price.
The Peugeot 308 was most recently priced – in 2020 – at $34,990 before on-road costs in GT-Line hatchback guise. The model will soon return to Australia in a trio of relatively high-spec trim grades and the choice of hatch or SW wagon body styles.
In the interim between the departure of the old 308 and the arrival of the new model, a variety of economic forces, including the coronavirus pandemic, supply shortages, and inflation – have led to industry-wide price increases.
These forces will affect the new, third-generation ‘P5’ 308 – but Peugeot will also deliberately pitch the car as a more premium vehicle, and the brand is being shifted further upmarket in Australia, in contrast to its mainstream positioning in Europe.
Kate Gillis, Peugeot Australia managing director, spoke to Chasing Cars about the subtle differences in the positioning of the brand in Australia versus Europe.
“Peugeot would be probably more mainstream in a European perspective, where it’s not mainstream here. The size [of the brand] is a lot smaller and we have the opportunity to be a lot more premium, so that’s where it probably differs a lot,” Gillis said.
Chasing Cars spent time last week crawling over a 2023 308 GT Premium grade in hatchback form – a high-end specification with a turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine – and we came away impressed.
With lashings of black nappa leather with lime stitching, upgraded plastics and much more sophisticated cabin technology, it’s hard to imagine that the car won’t jump into the high $40,000s or even the $50,000s when it launches in Australia.
We asked Peugeot Australia if the 308 would shift sales reporting categories from its existing “small car under $40,000” category to the premium “small car over $40,000” space.
Big names in the sub-$40K category the outgoing 308 played in are the Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and Hyundai i30 – while the over-$40K segment is the playground of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, BMW 1 Series and Audi A3.
Chloe Fraser, national public relations manager for Australian Peugeot distributor Inchcape, said that “as you can see from the finishings, it’s definitely pitched in that premium space,” but warned that “we’ll have to wait and see until we get pricing out where it will sit in the [price] categories.”
As with Peugeot’s 3008 midsize SUV and 508 large car, it is possible that there will be a jump between the price of the three petrol variants – the GT hatch and GT Premium hatch and wagon – and the plug-in hybrid GT Sport hatch that will arrive later in 2023. Later, a fully electric e-308 will become available in Europe. The EV is under evaluation for Australia.
In Europe, Peugeot is pitched as a mainstream brand with a moderately premium bent – along the same lines as Volkswagen or Skoda. In Australia, though, there is a move underway to shift perceptions of the French brand upward of rivals like VW.
“What is interesting is that the customer profile is quite similar – so you’ve got a very much a European bent or flair from customers here. Either they’ve travelled or they are culturally aware. You get the same in Europe, so there are some synergies – but very much where the cars are positioned, or where the brand is positioned, is quite different,” said chief Gillis.
Despite increasing the price of staple models like the highly-rated 3008 midsize SUV, Peugeot sales have remained mostly steady in 2022.
To the end of August 2022, Peugeot had sold 1437 cars in Australia compared to 1503 the year prior, though Gillis noted that the company is also sitting on a substantial order bank, particularly in the commercial vehicle space.
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