Peugeot 308 SW estate review

30 May, 2014 4:15pm Oliver Kew

New Peugeot 308 SW estate is well equipped, practical and good value

Verdict

4
The new Peugeot 308 SW estate continues Peugeot recent run of handsome, high-quality cars, and this little engine is fantastic. It’s a pity the handling remains safe rather than exciting and the radical cockpit design does take a bit of getting used to. However, in terms of its class-leading boot space, comfort and running costs, the SW has its priorities right.

It's not just the steering wheel that’s small in this particular Peugeot 308 SW – the engine is impressively tiny, too. It’s powered by the brand’s new 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine, which develops 109bhp in all but the top-spec 308.

The Feline model enjoys a boost to 129bhp, and allied with 230Nm from 1750-3500rpm, the small engine has the feel of a much larger unit. Not that this is a particularly hefty car: the new 308’s ‘EMP2’ platform is shared with the Citroen C4 Picasso, and saves up to 140kg compared with its predecessor.

Impressively, the new 1.2 e-THP is immune to the vibration that can afflict three-cylinder engine – at idle it’s almost silent and when it’s revved it actually sounds quite good. There’s no reason to spend £395 on the optional Sport mode, which dubs fake engine noise via the stereo and mires the steering with a dollop of dead weighting.

The handling itself is safe and predictable but it’s lacking the fun and engagement you get from a Ford Focus Estate. On the plus side, practicality is excellent, with the 610-litre boot matching the Octavia Estate and outdoing the BMW 5 Series Touring.

After it was crowned European Car of the Year at the Geneva show, Peugeot has added 11cm to the wheelbase and a whopping 22cm behind the rear axle to turn the 308 into an SW. As a result this Peugeot 308 estate comes with an impressive 610-litre boot - bigger than the equivalent estate versions of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus – although the Honda Civic Tourer and Skoda Octavia can carry more luggage.

That huge boot is nicely designed too. The lip is wide and set really low to the ground for easier loading, and with a single-pull of a handle the rear seats bases flip out and the backs fold down flat – a seriously convenient feature if you need more space in a hurry. Like all the best estates there are luggage rails and dividers and an elastic net to help tackle a variety of loads but the parcel shelf feels cheap and flimsy, which is a shame on what is supposed to be a rugged family runabout.

Room in the back has been improved, as the rear bench is mounted 29mm further back than in the hatch, and the doors are wider too. The full-length glass sunroof does impede on headroom though, and the seats are mounted quite high up, so the seating position feels a little awkward and upright for taller passengers.

The optional Driver’s Sport Pack (£395) adds a sport button to the centre console. Press it, and the steering gets a bit heavier, the throttle becomes more sensitive and the attractive dials switch from white to red.

A digital sound synthesizer also amplifies the sound of the engine and then plays it through the speakers for inject a little extra dynamism. It’s a fun new feature and if you drive it with enthusiasm the 308 SW does come alive. The uneven low-speed ride settles down, the body control improves and the steering weights up.

It still feels over-assisted though, and the 308 SW is hobbled with a loose and notchy manual gearbox that can feel very reluctant to slot into the right ratio. The clutch biting point is quite high too, and the ride fidgets over rough surfaces and cambers around town. For that reason the large alloys are best avoided as they also have a big impact on the claimed economy and CO2 emissions as well.

Disqus - noscript

Best looking estate in this class makes V W Golf look from about ten years ago, impressive load area and interior Peugeot are back. The Blue Pure Tec engine sounds a good proposition too very advanced again one a head of VW

It’s not the sportiest hatch in the class, however, with the Ford Focus and BMW 1 Series still the most involving to drive.

Not bad looking for an estate. As a matter of fact (in my opinion) after having seen some 308 hatchbacks in metal, the estate looks even better.
Extra leg room in rear and boot space are impressive too. Should help Peugeot claw some sales back. Figures are impressive for a 3-cylinder.

From these pics, the new 308 appears to be yet another example of the backward-steps car designers seem to want to take in terms of estate car practicality, sadly. Why, oh why, oh why, have we gone back to the 1970s in "folding seat" design, which sees the cushion fixed and a flip-down backrest? This denies both a flat floor (as the flipped-down cushion invariably sits at an angle) and a solid barrier between the load and the front seat occupants (hitherto provided by the upright cushion).

What troll-logic has brought us to this? Is it a cynical attempt to force those of us requiring a PROPER estate to instead buy a more expensive MPV? It makes the estate sector seem increasingly pointless when it is being filled-up with half-hearted conversions such as this.

Classy Station!

It's a classy, interesting car, with a novel engine. A little like the 307 SW I bought back in 2003. It's going to take years and years of excellent reliability results before I ever trust Peugeot again. Which is a shame, because I think their design direction at the moment is one of the most interesting.

Key specs

  • Price: £20,045
  • Engine: 1.2-litre 3cyl turbo petrol
  • Power: 128bhp
  • Torque: 230Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 10.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 127mph
  • Economy: 56.5mpg
  • CO2: 115g/km
  • On sale: Now
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