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December 8, 2015

Review: 2015 Peugeot 301 1.6 HDi

Photos by Ulysses Ang
If Peugeot had its way in the country, more people should be driving them. They’re unmistakably different and offer good value for money, especially if you’re in the market for something European. Of course, competing in market segments priced above the P 1.3-million mark, they’ve got their work cut out for them. This is especially true since majority of the growth is coming from automobiles pegged at just about a million pesos. So what’s Peugeot going to do? Inevitably, if they want a French invasion to happen here, they have to enter this market segment. At the same time, they’ve got to be careful as not to dilute their just-starting-to-develop brand equity.

This is the mission the Peugeot 301 finds itself in and it’s a tough one really considering the sub-compact genre is a cut-throat, no-holds barred business. Still, what does Peugeot do? Offer something, well, uniquely French.

Admittedly, it’s hard to get smitten with the 301 overnight. Sure, it has all the pre-requisite family cues like the lion crest on the hood, the floating front grille, and even the feline-inspired light clusters, but the overall shape has friends commenting more than once that it looks like a “Peugeot Vios”. And you can’t blame them. It does have the same general proportions and rotund styling complete with some edgy undertones. Dig deeper though and you begin to appreciate that it’s first and foremost, a European car. The paint has a deeper luster than your typical Japanese sub-compact and the doors do sound with an authoritative thunk.

Oddly enough, step inside and the whole experience reverses. Looking at photos alone, the 301 does have a nice, comfy cabin styled and executed in a very Peugeot way; it’s something that won’t look out of place in a 2008 or 3008 for that matter. But start touching everything and it’ll make you realize: boy, they worked on a tight budget to get that style. Everything is well screwed together and consistently finished throughout, but the choice of materials is very plebian. Knock on the door, the dashboard, the center console—they all reverberate with the same plastic found on your DVD player. And it extends to every part of the cockpit including the driving controls—the steering wheel, shifter, the buttons—they’re all hard to the touch, lessening the premium feel.

Getting over the initial shock though, it’s easy to get comfy with the 301’s driving position. The steering wheel adjusts only for height, but the large three-spoke tiller is good to use (hallelujah for the thumb rests) while the shifter does fall into your right arm’s natural position. The seats offer good support, but don’t expect it to hug you when executing high lateral-g movements. The simplistic gauges also offer a straight-forward experience with good legibility while the expansive greenhouse ensures visibility all around. Space is alright for four adults (five in a squeeze).

However, with the French just being French, they just had to insert several design oddities into the 301, most of which are just hard to fathom. The biggest culprit is the location of the power windows switches. Located just in front of the shifter, the position is counter-intuitive. If the objective is to free up more space by the door, that would have been alright; but it doesn’t. The lack of storage in the center means having to put larger door pockets which eats up into a bit of foot well space. Plus, the windows don’t even offer one-touch operation up or down. Another ergonomic miss is the location of the multi-function trip computer. A mainstay normally in the instrument cluster, you find it sharing display retail space with the audio system. And if that’s confusing enough, to operate it, you use a button at the tip of the wiper stalk. And there are problems with the layout of the stereo itself. See that large central knob? That doesn’t control the volume; that’s to change station. The volume control is located next to other audio functions. Seriously, even after a week of driving the 301, you won’t get accustomed to the ergonomics.

While the ergonomics remains a flaw for the 301, at least it’s well-mannered on the road. It’s not exactly the sportiest one out there, but it’s solid. It’s one of those cars that fall under the “get in, drive, and forget” mold. The clutch pedal (the diesel version is available purely with a stick shift) is easy to modulate and light enough to use even when stuck for hours on EDSA. The clutch’s engagement is a tad on the high side, but if you’re used to the operation of any other sub-compact diesel, the feel is the same. The five-speed gearbox is largely painless to use with ratios clearly biased more for the urban setting, but the feel is vague and rubbery. That said, as long as you’re committed to your shifts, you don’t crunch gears.

Powered by a 1.6-liter turbo diesel engine, the 301 1.6 HDi, as this model’s officially called, generates a rather modest 92 horsepower. Though the peak power is similar to what a late 90’s compact car would generate, the generous torque of 230 Nm more than makes up for it. This means the 301 can scoot quickly from a standstill and in-between traffic lights, but runs out of breath as the needle climbs up. The engine is largely unobtrusive and is actually quite refined for everyday motoring. Sticking to a purely urban setting, it squeezes out 12.34 kilometers per liter of diesel.

While the drivetrain combination works alright, the 301’s weak point is surprise, surprise: the dynamics. Built as a global car, particularly for developing markets such as the Philippines, the 301 has to take into consideration badly paved roads. The result is a car that’s comfy with just a hint of firmness. It manages to absorb the worse that Metro Manila throw at it without feeling like a tin can with wheels. Of course, the largest of ruts do make it into the cabin, but at least most of it is filtered through the softly sprung suspension. This is excellent if you find yourself being a passenger. However, on the flipside, as a driver, it’s largely lifeless and wallowy. It goes through corners with the same feel as an arcade game with a steering that’s cold and uncommunicative. It’s safe and stable (the standard stability control helps), but it won’t set your loins on fire.

Priced at P 990,000, the Peugeot 301 1.6 HDi veers pretty close to compact car prices plus it’s a tad more expensive than its most direct competitor: the Volkswagen Polo TDI. But go beyond the price tag, the French number does come with a more convincing list of equipment. Aside from all power amenities, it also has a built-in speed limiter, cruise control, and even a full-featured entertainment system with Bluetooth hands-free. The 301 isn’t the car that’ll threaten other sub-compact offerings out there, but at least it does manage to keep the French character along with a bit of that quirkiness. For those who get what Peugeots are about, it’s a solid entry-level model.

2015 Peugeot 301 HDi
Ownership 2015 Peugeot 301 HDi
Year Introduced 2015
Vehicle Classification Sub-Compact Sedan
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.6
Aspiration Common Rail, Turbo
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 92 @ 4,000
Nm @ rpm 230 @ 1,750
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel
Transmission 5 MT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,442
Width (mm) 1,715
Height (mm) 1,466
Wheelbase (mm) 2,652
Curb Weight (kg) 1,090
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Trailing Arm
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Tires Goodyear GT3 185/65R15 T (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Rear
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front and Rear
Auto Lights No
Auto Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Climate Control Manual
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. There's one episode in TOP GEAR where jeremy asked the Stig to test / track drive a Peugeot - and the Stig ran away! ha ha, it was so funny. Them TOP GEAR abhors the Peugeot brand. Well, just sharing. Not realated to the review anyway. peace.

    1. Then how come Peugeot still exists in the market and get good reviews from Top Gear UK?

  2. French cars are known for their unreliability. I wonder if they have improved...

    1. Like what brands? How come they still exist and still get good reviews from top gear UK?

    2. Just because a car is unreliable doesn't mean that they will cease to exist. Wrong basis.

  3. At php990,000, better buy a Mazda 3 V. Still cheaper by 25k pesos and offers more space, and gadgets. Only someone obsessed with European cars will but this.

    1. And this is not even European. Chinese carmaker, Geely, owns Peugeot now.

  4. I had a brand new 301 as a company car, it has tons of problems within a year of use

    1. Like what problems? Please be specific because I bought one and after a year its performance is still the same compared to when I bought it.

    2. My Peugeot 301 performs superbly. I get at least 13 kpl thru traffic. My daily commute is Batasan area to Makati CBD. My biggest problem, however, are the wipers. They intersect and gives a big bang (just waiting for the windshield to give in). Brought the unit back to Wheels E. Rodriguez but no solution has been made. I even suggested to the service supervisor to report the problem to the manufacturer. The problem emerged right after I bought the unit in May 2015, Just hoping somebody from Peugeot hears about this complaint.

  5. The model shown here is the entry level model or probably a test model since it's very basic. The a/c controls are different as well as the gearshift knob. Even the upholstery is different from the model being sold here. Maybe that's why the review isn't quite pleasing for somebody who's shopping for a decent European car.

    1. That is the base 301, the next model up is the 1.6 liter gasoline variant with an automatic, it's priced at P1.09M.
      To make things tougher, for the same amount, one can get a new Focus Titanium or Sport which both come with a 1.5 EcoBoost (180PS and 240Nm of torque) mated to a 6-speed automatic.

  6. Sir uly, is this car a good value for money for first time car buyer?

    1. Sir Ulyssess Ang may promo Peugeot 301 ngaun sulit kaya? ito yung link lumalabas bali yung rate is 10% for 301 HDi (diesel) mt

  7. guys my mbibili b n piyesa nito sa labas banawe. i mean not in casa. pra saken medyo ang casa maintain nila.

  8. My Peugeot 301 1.6 HDI gives me at least 13 kpl thru Metro Manila heavy traffic. My daily commute is Batasan area to Makati CBD. I bought my 301 last May 2015. The recurring problem are the wipers. They intersect and gives a big bang (just waiting for the windshield to cave-in). I brought up the problem to Wheels E. Rodriguez (service provider of Peugeot Quezon Avenue) several times but no solution has been found. I even suggested to the service supervisor to consult with the supplier. I hope somebody from Peugeot hears about this concern.

  9. mine was the front windshield gets foggy at night when the a/c is on

  10. mine was the front windshield gets foggy at night when the a/c is on

  11. same here.. another problem of this unit are the front suspension, they got easily broke down.

  12. I believe the purpose of the front windshield (wherein it get's foggy), is for the dash board not to adsorb the heat by daytime, which most drivers/owners will get the headache from (like bad). We purchased the 2016 model, but so far, no complaints. :)

  13. The fog at the front windshield is annoying at night specially when its raining. There is no way to shut the a/c vents on the dashboard.

  14. The aircon is weak. The a/c max button is always in use. They should have immitated a/c of japanese cars in which you often use the maximum fan button and temperature.

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  17. The transmission is gear hunting. It does not perform a 1.6L car. Performs like a 1.2L or lower displacement engine. A word of advice, check the engine performance when you test drive.

    1. Lots of hate for the 301 here. Did you drive the gas or the diesel? This one here is the diesel and I found the performance to be very good.

  18. The auxillary fan is too loud, sounds like a household vacuum cleaner plus the front door panels and the center console makes squeeking sound, annoying while driving.

  19. I bopught a 301 diesel turbo, so far so good. I like the fast acceleration from stoplight to go. i don't get worried in overtaking slower moving cars as the engine is very responsive. Diesel mileage is superb, i just gas up 500 pesos and i exceed 100 km in odometer reading in city driving.

  20. Problems are slow 4 speed automatic transmission, weak aircondioning system during sunny days, noisy engine fan, a foggy windshield that can be disturbing at night.

  21. Good day... Thinking of buying 301 diesel (secondhand) for 475,000 (mileage 15,279).
    Is it a good deal to use for UBER or GRAB? Suggestions please. :) thanks

  22. i just bought a 301 with 1.2L gas engine. it has 5 speed automatic transmission.. the shifting is clunking,also when shifting there is a noticeable momentum loss like pausing.

  23. i forgot to mention that it came from an auto auction.. 2015 model 10,000kms on the clock. it still has warranty. should i bother or there is no solution to this odd clunking shift noise everytime i shift from R to N to A. although the clunking is not noticeable when the car is already above 40kph.


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