2017 Peugeot 301
The 301 gets a pretty big update that brings a new look and better technology, among other thingsby Robert Moore, on
Peugeot revived the 301 nameplate back in 2012 bring a compact sedan to the market that was designed specifically to compete in emerging markets. Getting in on the ground floor of developing markets was a great idea, and the 301 has performed well, but the 2017 model year will bring a much-needed facelift to a little car that could. Highlights include a new PureTech, three-cylinder engine, a new look to the front and rear fascias, and the addition of some pretty decent technology inside. Of course, it’s not likely that it will come to the U.S., but it’s design and technology would make it an able competitor in the compact market.
On top of the fresh exterior design, the new 301 also includes a decent list of safety equipment for this segment that includes things like ABS, stability control, and emergency brake assist. It can seat a total of five passengers, and a total of 22.6 cubic-feet of cargo room under the rear deck lid. A total of six different engine configurations are available with anywhere between 80 horsepower and 113 horsepower. While it may not be the most powerful compact sedan out there, it is fuel efficient and designed to last.
With that said, let’s dive on into the specifics and talk more about the new Peugeot 301.
The exterior you see here is actually a huge departure from the outgoing model. The most notable difference is the front grille that is now smaller, wider, and more geometrically sound. It still features three slats finished in chrome, but the lion emblem has been moved to the center of the grille, giving the front end a much better look. Down below, the air dam takes on a new shape with the top edge extending over the aggressive recess in each and creating the perfect mounting location for LED running lights. Just below each LED running light is a fog light that is much more pronounced than on the outgoing model. The lip on the front fascia is now more sculpted to provide a more aggressive appearance. Finally, the hood gets a new set of body lines closer to the center while the sculpted lines that bleed over from the fenders have been toned down a bit closer to the nose.
The most notable difference is the front grille that is now smaller, wider, and more geometrically sound.
The headlights on the new model now feature a more jagged bottom edge but maintain the same wraparound styling. The side profile itself remains largely the same, including the position of that sculpted upper bodyline and the less obtrusive line down below. It does appear as if that upper body line has been thinned out a bit, and feeds directly back into the contour of the wraparound taillights. Around back, the decklid carries over unchanged while the rear fascia gets a new insert at the bottom. The big news back here is the new taillight units that are highly attractive compared to the units on the outgoing model. Now featuring a triple layout to the inside and a wide reverse light at the bottom, the 3D look of these taillights are out of this world and could be, arguably, better looking than the taillight units found on models like the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes C-Class.
Two competitors in this segment that are likely to be found in the same markets as the 301 are the Hyundai Accent (left) and the Nissan Sentra (right.) The Accent is actually a hatchback, so it falls into a different category as far as overall design goes, but in the markets when the 301 is sold, it does pose strong competition. Up front, it has a rather small radiator grille to go with a taller air dam down below. The fog lights in the corners are almost boomerang shaped, while the headlights take on an eye-like shape. To the side, there’s a sharp, sculpted body line that starts out at the front wheel arch and gets progressively higher in position as it moves farther to the rear. Down below, there’s a concave area that runs almost parallel with the upper body line. Around back the Accent has an upright hatch and a bubbly rear fascia. It’s not a bad look, but unless you’re a fan of hatchbacks, you’re better off in the looks department with the new 301.
Then we have the Nissan Sentra. It’s not exactly the new kid on the block, being introduced way back in the early 1980s. Since then, it’s grown out of the subcompact segment and entered the compact segment. It was updated for the 2016 model year and comes with a refreshing look that is sure to give the new 301 a run for its money. Up front, you’ll find an iteration of Nissan’s stylish grille that’s highlighted by gloss black mesh and a flat-bottomed V-shaped chrome strip. Down below it has a wide-mouth air dam that is flanked by a recess on each side that houses the fog lights. As far as styling goes, the Sentra actually takes the cake as it has two mild body lines on the hood that give the front end a muscular appearance, while the side profile features a wavy body line below the waistline that gives the side profile a unique flow not commonly found in this segment. Around back, you’ll find that the Sentra has the most aggressive rear fascia when compared to the 301 or the Accent. A small recess in each corner provides some style while a mild diffuser-like element resides in the middle of the lower fascia.
|Hyundai Accent||Nissan Sentra||Peugeot 301|
Moving over to the interior, you’ll find a surprisingly modern design that is also simplistic in nature. The dash features a pretty flat top that elevates just a bit on the driver’s side to make the overhang for the instrument cluster. The face of the dash, as well as the pull handle son the doors, have been fitted with glossy black inserts that are both stylish and give the little sedan a hint of luxury. The center console is small and features a single cup holder just ahead of the shifter. The console dips down in the rear for a centrally located hand brake. The steering wheel is even fairly sporty with a flat bottom and gloss black insert. More important than this, however, is the technology that comes inside the 301. The instrument cluster features two main gauges, one for speed and a tachometer. In between them is a TFT display to keep the driver informed. Sitting in the center stack is a seven-inch touchscreen display that brings phone connectivity into the fold via USB, Bluetooth, and Mirror Screen triple play. As such, you’ll find connectivity suites like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. On top of this, the system comes equipped with a rear-view camera display and TomTom 3D navigation.
The dash features a pretty flat top that elevates just a bit on the driver’s side to make the overhang for the instrument cluster.
In the rear, you’ll find that the rear seat has a 60/40 split to allow part of the back or all of the back to be laid down to increase cargo capacity if needed. The trunk itself is rated at 22.60 cubic-feet, but with the rear seats laid down total capacity increases to as much as 47.03 cubic-feet. There’s also an additional 17.87 cubic-feet available below the removable floor panel in the trunk that brings total capacity up to 64.9 cubic-feet. The rear doors, like the front, include storage cubbies. Peugeot has yet to mention what kind of materials are available inside, but the images we have here show an all-cloth interior, so that’s likely the standard across the line, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the option for leather on higher-trimmed models.
The Nissan Sentra (left) also provides a pretty stylish interior, and can even be had with leather upholstery for the right price. The infotainment display in the 301 looks much nicer than that of the Sentra, but don’t let the look of Nissan’s infotainment display fool you, it comes complete with navigation, a backup camera, Bose sound system, and NIssanConnect that allows phone connectivity via the usual channels. On the safety side of things, the Sentra comes complete with intelligent cruise control, collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking, and a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. You’ll find the seats can be had in perforated leather, while the instrument cluster features a similar layout to that of the 301 with two large gauges and a central display. All told, the 301 isn’t a bad choice, but if you really want leather and a great fit and finish, the Sentra may be your best bet. But, it’s not the only option, so let’s move on to the next.
Since the Hyundai Accent (right) is a hatchback, one could argue that it offers more cargo room than the other models we’ve discussed here, but in terms of technology, it can be considered it doesn’t really offer superiority. To start off, the interior does offer a decent design with a slightly curved dash that has a few character lines, and there’s decent fit and finish, but the infotainment system isn’t anything to write home about. It’s positioned in the center stack but is incredibly small compared to the Sentra and 301, there is a nice blue ambiance that comes from the interior backlighting, and the instrument cluster looks very modern, but that’s about all you get. The audio system does handle CD and MP3 and offers iPod and USB auxiliary input jacks, but there are no connectivity suites to be had here. In 2015, the Accent was updated to include a more “readable” infotainment display, but don’t expect to find navigation anywhere in the options box.
|Hyundai Accent||Nissan Sentra||Peugeot 301|
|Head room (Inches, front/rear)||39.9/37.2||39.4/36.7||TBA|
|Leg room (Inches, front/rear)||41.8/33.3||42.5/37.4||TBA|
|Shoulder room (Inches, front/rear)||53.7/53.4||54.7/53.9||55.51/55.11|
|Hip room (Inches, front/rear)||51.3/47.2||50.9/50.1||TBA|
|Cargo seats seats up/down (cu ft)||21.2/47.5||15.1/TBA||22.6/47.03|
The new 301 is being offered with a handful of engines that include two gasoline drinkers and two diesel drinkers. On the gasoline front, the entry-level engine is a 1.2-liter PureTech that mates with a five-speed manual transmission. It produces just over 80 horsepower, which is perfect for a city driver. If you want a little more power, there’s the 1.6-liter VTi that delivers just over 113 horsepower and mates to either a five-speed manual or an EAT6, six-speed automatic. Moving over to the oil burners, both models are 1.6-liters. The HDi variant offers up just shy of 91 horsepower and comes mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Moving up to the 1.6-liter BlueHDi gets you 98.6 horsepower and a five-speed manual. The EAT6 is actually a new transmission built by Aisi, and is said to “guarantee top-of-the-range driving pleasure.”
As far as safety systems go, the 301 comes equipped with ABS, cruise control, stability control, emergency brake assist, and will activate the hazard lights in the event of hard braking. Suspension duties are handled by Pseudo MacPherson struts up front and standard shocks in the rear. Depending on the wheel size, you’ll get GoodYear 186/65-series 15-inch tires or Bridgestone 195/55-series 16-inch tires. Braking duties are handled by a disc system up from and eight- or nine-inch drum brakes in the rear, dependent on the specific market.
|1.2L PureTech||1.6L VTi 115||1.6L BlueHDi 100||1.6L HDi|
|Engine||1.2-liter PureTech 3-cylinder||1.6-liter 4-cylinder||1.6-liter 4-cylinder diesel||1.6-liter 4-cylinder diesel|
|Horsepower||82 HP @ 5,750 RPM||113 HP @ 6,050 RPM||98.6 HP @ 3,750 RPM||91 HP|
|Torque||87 LB-FT @ 2,750 RPM||110 LB-FT @ 4,000 RPM||187 LB_FT @ 1,750 RPM||TBA|
|Transmission||5-speed manual||5-speed manual/6-speed automatic||5-speed manual||5-speed manual|
|CO2 emissions||110g CO2/km||148g CO2/km/154g CO2/km||98g CO2/km||TBA|
The Sentra is offered in a number of various markets with a wide range of engines, but you’re most likely to find it equipped with a 1.8-liter that delivers around 129 horsepower and about 128 pound-feet of torque. It has independent front suspension with McPherson struts and a torsion bar system in the rear. It comes standard with an XTRONIC CVT transmission and attains a fuel economy of about 15.5 KM per liter of fuel. Safety equipment includes ABS, brakeforce distribution, and a TPMS system. It’s not a bad offering, and the specs will likely be different depending on your market, but the Sentra should always offer a competitive output and level of performance.
As is the usual case with these global models that are sold in various markets, the Accent will also vary depending on the market. The most commonly found drivetrain, however, is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that delivers 137 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. Depending on the market, however, you may find it with significantly less output. It offers comparable fuel economy and performance thanks to the use of continuously variable valve time and a variable induction system, among other things. You’ll find that 14-inch wheels are the standard here, while the front suspension makes use of MacPherson struts and the rear has a Torsion axle system. Some models come with disc brakes in the rear, but depending on your market, you’re more likely to find a set of basic drums out back.
|Hyundai Accent||Nissan Sentra|
|Engine||1.6-liter four-cylinder||1.8-liter four-cylinder|
|Horsepower||137 HP @ 6,300 RPM||124 HP @ 6,000 RPM|
|Torque||123 LB-FT @ 4,850 RPM||125 LB-FT @ 3,600 RPM|
|Transmission||6-speed manual||6-speed manual|
|Weight||2,546-2,601 Lbs||2,848 Lbs|
Pricing for the Peugeot 301 has yet to be released, but the current model is pricing between $15,000 and $17,000 at current exchange rates depending on the market. As such, it competes well with the Accent which typically has a similar price point. The Sentra starts out around $16,000 on most markets but often travels above the $20,000 mark for the higher-range models. We’ll update you on pricing when that information is made available.
Depending on the market, you may find the Toyota Yaris iA as a strong competitor. As a compact sedan, it comes with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder that delivers 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but you can opt for an automatic if you desire to do so. You’ll find MacPherson struts in the front and a Torsion bar system in the rear. Fuel economy isn’t bad with U.S. models being rated at 30 mpg in the city, 39 mpg on the highway, and 34 mpg combined. Pricing starts out around $16,000 depending on the market but can increase to as much as $18,000 with select options and certain trim levels.
Read more about the Toyota Yaris iA here.
The thing about the Peugeot 301 is that it was built specifically for “emerging markets,” so the official specs and options available vary widely depending on your location. If you’re considering the new model, which is very stylish and equipped nicely, you should contact your local Peugeot dealer to confirm engine options and features available. In the end, this updated model is a strong proposition for the competition and will make a nice addition to the family if you’re looking for something that is compact, fuel efficient, and able to haul a family of five with groceries.