Peugeot 308 SW review
The five-door Peugeot 308 SW estate has the option of a third row of seats and a range of economical engines
The standard Peugeot 308 falls short of the small family car class leaders in many respects, but the practical 308 SW version has a bit more going for it, including surprisingly attractive looks, frugal petrol and diesel engines and the added bonus of MPV-rivalling seating capacity as an option. Yet it's still quite pricey for what you get, as well as being far from the last word in driving excitement. Plus, there are question marks over reliability, so if you don't need the third row of seats, rivals like the Ford Focus and VW Golf estates offer a better all-round package.
Our choice: Active 1.6 e-HDi 112 Stop-Start
Not everyone will like the oversized headlights at the front of the Peugeot 308, but there's no denying they're bold and dramatic. The designers have also done the best they can within the confines of the small estate body shape, so overall the 308 SW is quite a handsome car, and definitely better looking than its rather anonymous hatchback counterpart. It won't set pulses racing, but it should attract some compliments all the same. The dashboard is well laid-out, yet while the plastics used are high-quality, the dull grey colour scheme disappoints.
Genuine driving enthusiasts won't consider cars like the Peugeot 308 SW in the first place, but family buyers used to the sharp turn-in of a Ford Focus or smooth gearchange of a VW Golf may be disappointed. The SW feels a little slow to respond and rides poorly on bad roads. The 2.0-litre HDi 150 diesel and 1.6-litre THP turbo petrol engines offer plenty of power, but are only available with the more expensive trim levels. For everyday driving, the 1.6 e-HDi 112 diesel is a good choice, combining reasonable torque with excellent fuel economy for very low running costs. The smaller 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrols can feel inadequate, especially if the car is fully loaded.
ESP and six airbags are standard on all models in the Peugeot 308 SW range, while a five-star rating from crash-testing body Euro NCAP provides added reassurance. The Peugeot 307, predecessor of the 308, suffered extremely poor reliability, but all indications are things have improved significantly in the new car, and there have been no recalls as yet. The 308 did not appear in our most recent Driver Power ownership survey, but its contemporary the 207 finished a disappointing 76th out of the top 100 cars, with reliability and build quality being owners' main concerns.
Packing seven seats into a small family car body makes the 308 SW a real star when it comes to practicality. The car is beginning to show its age a little, as its seating system isn't as clever as those seen in more modern MPVs like the Vauxhall Zafira – for example, the rearmost row of seats don't fold flat into the floor. However, there's no arguing with a 2,150-litre load area when all the rear seats are folded. A panoramic roof on high-spec models means the interior feels big, bright and airy, too – important for keeping the kids happy on longer journeys.
Running costs are the Peugeot 308 SW's trump card, particularly with the frugal 1.6 e-HDI 112 diesel engine, which returns 61mpg and emits 115g/km of CO2. Even the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel engine offers mid-fifties mpg, and all models of 308 SW will be cheap to insure, too. As with most Peugeots, residual values are a concern, although the 308 does do better in this regard than the five-door hatchback model. List prices are quite high compared to rivals, so try to negotiate for a good deal.