Peugeot 308 SW review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The 308 SW is a well equipped family estate with an efficient range of engines and a smart interior

For: 
Superb practicality, smooth diesel engine, ultra low CO2 emissions.
Against: 
Awkward driving position, mixed cabin quality, bumpy low speed ride.

The Peugeot 308 hatch was crowned European Car of the Year in March, and the company has just introduced the SW estate version to the range.

It’s a lot longer than the hatch, with a longer wheelbase that should mean there is more room inside. The new SW also comes with a range of new engines, including a 1.6-litre diesel that emits just 85g/km of CO2 and a new three-cylinder turbo that is smoother and punchier than a Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine.

There are four trims levels to choose from, and most come very well equipped, while the 308 SW is priced to undercut mainstream rivals like the Volkswagen Golf Estate and recently introduced Honda Civic Tourer.

Styling

3.8

The 308 SW is around 33cm longer than the hatchback, but unlike some estates the extra length is not just plonked on the back behind the rear axle.

The wheelbase has also been extended to improve rear passenger space and this helps to balance the sleek design. It still looks quite conservative though – and even with the big alloys and LED headlights of the top-spec models this is still a car that handsomely blends in rather than standing out.

Peugeot-308-SW-estate-interior

Inside, the interior has some lovely design touches, with an aluminium gear knob, hardly any buttons on the dash and a big 9.7-inch touchscreen to control all the major functions. There are some cheap plastics in evidence still – but for the most part it feels classy and modern inside, and it’s a massive step forward compared to the old 308 in terms of quality.

Driving

3.6

At launch the 308 SW introduced four new engines into the range, taking the overall total to eight – with an even split between petrol and diesel.

The pick of the bunch in terms of petrol engines is the new 1.2-litre e-THP 130 – it’s a three-cylinder turbo that produces an impressive 128bhp and it a real advert for the advantages of downsizing technology. It revs smoothly and quietly, is really flexible in-gear and fun to drive on the right road. The 308 is at its best with a diesel engine under the bonnet though, as the soft suspension setup and comfort oriented ride mean the hushed and punchy new 1.6-litre BlueHDi unit suits the character of the car extremely well.

The manual gearboxes do feel a little loose and not as precise as rivals like the VW Golf though, and the artificially quick steering has a tendency to self-centre that can make it feel a little twitchy at higher speeds too. The low speed ride is comfortable and controlled, but cars fitted with the larger alloy wheels are noticeably firmer around town, and any bumps in the surface are a lot more pronounced.

Grip is ok depending which tyres you choose, but there is some body roll in the corners, still driven at a more steady pace the 308 SW is every inch the comfortable family cruiser.

Reliability

3.5

Peugeot still has some work to do to improve its reputation in this area, and although the new 308 SW seems much better built than the outgoing car some questions linger as to its overall durability.

The cabin mainly uses soft-touch plastics but some areas are hard and scratchy which spoils the overall effect. Similarly, the touchscreen can be quite fiddly and the sat-nav is not the most intuitive or accurate system we have tried.

The connected apps take quite a long time to load too, and this system could soon feel a bit outdated when compared to (admittedly more expensive) systems in rival cars.

Even so, the major mechanical parts are all tried and tested in other Peugeot products and while the 308 does not come with anything more than a three-year warranty it should be relatively trouble free.

The new three-cylinder engine and gearboxes are untried, so it might take a few months to find out if there are any early production kinks that need ironing out.

Like the hatchback, the 308 was awarded a full five star safety rating by crash testers Euro NCAP, and it has several active safety systems that help to lower your insurance premiums, although these are only available as options on the top two trims – so not everyone gets the full benefit.

Practicality

4.3

Any family estate is measured on how much stuff it can hold and the new Peugeot 308 SW performs extremely well in this area.

The standard boot can hold 610-litres of luggage, with a 70-litre cubbyhole below the boot floor (as long as you don’t opt for a spare wheel). The rear seats fold down totally flat with a single pull of a handle in the boot, and the loading lip is very low and wide, which makings putting heavy or awkward items in the boot a breeze.

With the seats folded down the SW can carry an even more impressive 1,610 litres of stuff, so only the Honda Civic Tourer and Skoda Octavia estate are even more cavernous. The rear seats have been mounted 29mm further back than in the hatch, so rear passengers get a touch more legroom than before, but the bench is quite high and firm, so it can take a while to get comfortable.

All round visibility is good though, and although it takes a while to find a comfortable driving position thanks to the tiny steering wheel and high clutch pedal, there is enough adjustment to make eventually finding the right spot possible with work.

The optional panoramic sunroof floods the cabin with light, but does also eat into the rear headroom, so it’s worth avoiding if you plan to regularly have passengers sat in the back.

Running Costs

4.5

The new Peugeot 308 SW is lighter than most of its mainstream rivals thanks to a drastic weight saving scheme during its design in fact the estate is 140kgs lighter than the car it replaces.

Combined with a body that has been shaped to be more aerodynamic than before and the claimed fuel economy is really exceptional. The BlueHDi version has a decent 118bhp but will return a claimed 88.3mpg when fitted with the ultra-low rolling resistance tyres standard on cars with 16-inch wheels.

The new petrol model is also quite frugal though, and because of this the brand expects it to lead the charge when it comes to private retail buyers. The 1.2-litre triple returns a claimed 60.1mpg and emits just 109g/km.

The 308 SW is on a par with cars like the SEAT Leon ST but comes better equipped as standard, and it undercuts rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic with prices starting at just under £17,000 for the most basic versions, although the residuals are likely to be weaker than either of these competitors.

Standard equipment is impressive though, with even mid-spec cars getting sat-nav and the 9.7-inch touchscreen fitted as standard, ‘Allure’ models get a colour reversing camera, and goodies like 17-inch alloy wheels and full LED lights.

Disqus - noscript

Again, why don't you base your reliability chapter on real studies? Peugeot is more reliable than german cars according to all studies (take a look at the reliability index), so why always 5 stars for germans and not for other brands?

Such a relevant question would deserve an answer from AE.

Especially when they put this: "308 does not come with anything more than a three-year warranty" - all German brands only offer a 3 year warranty (yes you can extend it but you have to pay, and I think that destroys the point).

Exactly. Same for Honda, 3 years warranty, so I don't know why they put this. The other thing s about the bumpy ride, that is noticed for every car.... maybe the problem comes from our roads.....

Honda have a 5 year warranty but I still get your point, especially about the roads. It doesn't also help the reliability results are arbitrary - opinion rather than empirical results. So, for all we know, they could be really reliable but one niggle could be a frustration (their sat nav can glitch now and then) which affects their overall perception of reliability. The fact that BMW, Audi and VW had more recalls (individually) than Peugeot had last year says something.

I just checked in their website, and it looks like it is 3 years, but it is not very clear... Well, the difference is about the way the brands are dealing with those issues. German premium brands (so for me, BMW and Mercedes) have more problems, it costs much more when you have to pay for the pieces, but at the same time, under warranty, they sometimes give you a replacement car until your car is fixed.It is something the generalist brands can't do (well, maybe they could, but they don't...) So in the end, the customer may be more pleased.
The other thing I noticed is that when some of my friends who had bought expensive premium cars had some failures, they tend to not tell anything and not complain too loud, while when you buy a "normal" car, people shout quite quickly.

Tom, you've nailed it there in many respects.
It takes me back to a very interesting survey which was leaked many years ago avbout engine reliability:
Vauxhall & SAAB ('rep-mobile' & prestige) both used the Fiat 1.9TD engine in [generally] 150bhp guise. Even though the engine was manufactured at the same engine plant and shipped to the respective companies, fully assembled on a crate, the reliability results for each brand differed wildly.
Vauxhall Vectra owners reported average reliability from their engines, whilst SAAB 9-3 owners' engine problems were, inexplicably, quite rare (and, therefore making it a relatively trouble-free engine).
I often speak to german car owners, who say that their cars are incredibly reliable, whilst at the same time, I deal with VW, Audi, BMW & Porsche dealers who are inundated with warranty claims. KIA, Hyundia, Toyota & Honda dealers, for example, are quiet on warranty claims.
Go figure. There's nowt stranger than folk!

i had similar experience talking to a person that owned a 320, the car had only 3 year and 100k Km on in and already and a new timing chain and a new turbo and another thing i don't remember but it has like it has the most normal thing and that the car has very reliable and good...

My peugeot had its first turbo repair at 280k Km and only a broke bearing it could last a few more Km before repair...

Last updated: 2 Apr, 2014

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