Peugeot 308 SW 2.0 HDi SPORT

Low price and seven-seat option makes newcomer look tempting.

  • Comfortable driving position and visibility are welcome.
  • Unusual styling makes the SW look awkward.

EVOLUTION, not revolution – that’s the motto Peugeot seems to have adopted with its new 308 family car. The styling borrows from the old 307, and the SW also retains the optional seven-seat interior pioneered by its predecessor.

We’re not sure its extended roofline has been as neatly integrated this time round, though. The near-vertical rear end and oddly angled D-pillar give the model a bulbous look – it’s almost as if the SW variant was designed as an after-thought.

Estates are all about space, so how does the Peugeot measure up? Its boot provides 600 litres of storage beneath the load cover; fold the seats and that extends to 911 litres.

Sliding the second row of chairs forward increases these figures by 74 and 120 litres respectively. The middle seats tumble forwards rather than folding, and you can remove them altogether to give an incredible 2,149 litres of space – much more than is available in the Focus.

But that gives you the problem of storing all the seats. And the load bay they leave behind isn’t flat. What’s more, when they are in place, the individual chairs in the middle row are rather narrow.

Peugeot charges £495 extra for the optional sixth and seventh seats. They’re cramped, with nowhere for occupants to put their feet, and headroom is limited, too. Luggage space when they’re occupied is disappointing, and they also take up valuable boot capacity when folded.

Still, the two-tone cabin looks smart, with high-quality materials and, in Sport trim, a novel full-length glass roof. In the past, Peugeot prided itself on its cars’ fluid handling and stylish looks. But times have changed. This latest estate doesn’t have the polish of the Focus. Although the steering is precise, it has an artificial feel and the body is less controlled during sharp turns.

The Peugeot’s softer suspension does a decent job of smoothing out bumps, but it crashes over potholes and ruts – exposing the less solid build quality inside the car.

There isn’t much wrong with the 2.0-litre HDi diesel – it’s shared with its Ford rival. It produces 136bhp, and powers the SW from 0-60mph in 10.3 seconds. That’s only seven-tenths-of-a-second slower than the Ford. But you’re more likely to find the front tyres scrabbling for grip on bends in the Peugeot. The question is whether the 308 SW’s lower price can make up for its less capable chassis.

Details

Price: £18,645Chart position: 1WHY: New SW moves the estate car into MPV territory with the option of a third row of seats.

Economy

EVEN though the Peugeot comes loaded with kit and clever features, it should go easy on the wallet. Longer servicing intervals help, although they are slightly misleading – because while you can go up to two years between garage visits, you can also opt to have the car inspected annually (which we would recommend). Either way, the SW will still cost less to maintain than the Ford, as it returns decent fuel economy. But the fly in the ointment is its resale value: our experts predict it will be worth £1,579 less than the Focus after three years and 36,000 miles. You will have to weigh this up against its lower list price and extra versatility.

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