Long-term tests

Long-term test review: Peugeot 308 SW BlueHDi Feline

Fourth report: Stylish estate loads up for the school holidays

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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The 308 SW is still proving to be a fine family wagon. Lots of motorway cruising has helped increase fuel economy to 46.3mpg, which is impressive given the weight of my camera gear. With two months left on our fleet, I’m hoping for more of the same: carefree, frugal motoring.

Mileage: 25,232Fuel economy: 46.3mpg

The summer holidays are in full swing and this means our Peugeot 308 SW is at its busiest, being pressed into service as family friendly transport.

As always, I’m enjoying lots of days out with the kids during the long break from school, so the car’s large boot and comfortable ride come into their own. Even with Benson, the family dog, carefully loaded into the back, the girls’ scooters still fit down the side of the luggage bay, so dog and daughters are all kept happy. 

It might not be the biggest estate on the market, but what I really like is that the SW gives you plenty of flexibility, with enough space to load it up for a day trip – and it still feels nicely compact and fun to drive. 

My children Olivia and Isabella also love the vast panoramic roof that floods the high-quality, leather-trimmed cabin with light – and anything that distracts them from their iPads must be good. My only complaint about the roof is that you can’t open it. Maybe a split system with a sliding front section would add to the experience?

Still, it’s only a small gripe, and living with the Peugeot has been mostly positive. Having clocked up more than 25,000 miles this year, the car has loosened up nicely and the odd warning lights that used to flash up sporadically have stopped. 

Although it’s not quite a match for the class-leading SEAT Leon ST, the 308 SW is capable over most road surfaces, thanks to its soft-edged and composed ride, and the punchy, refined engine continues to impresse. I just wish the gearchange was more direct.

I’ve always found the small, low-set steering wheel and high-up dials (what Peugeot calls its i-Cockpit) a compromise, too, but overall the cabin is a nice place to spend time. As part of that i-Cockpit set-up there’s also a 9.7-inch colour touchscreen, although one issue that does cause mild frustration is the built-in reversing camera.

Select reverse to back out of a parking space and the screen takes a while to load up and show the view behind, so by the time you’ve pulled out, the camera has just turned on. Handy guideline graphics help with manoeuvring, though, as do the parking sensors, and the camera works better when backing into tight spots.

The screen is still a neat highlight inside the slick interior, which complements the exterior styling. One of the nicest features of the car is the way it looks, as the shape lends itself to the flowing estate bodystyle. The 18-inch alloys play a big part in its appeal, but unfortunately, with low-profile tyres they’ve been in contact with the odd kerb.

Peugeot 308 SW: third report

DIY top-ups of AdBlue eco liquid spoil enjoyment of estate

Mileage: 16,125Fuel economy: 45.7mpg

Our Peugeot 308 SW’s appetite for AdBlue fuel additive doesn’t really, well, add up. A few weeks ago, a message flashed up on the dash warning me that the car was low on ‘urea’ and that the engine would soon shut down if I didn’t top up.  

Best estate cars

The urea is in fact AdBlue, a special substance used by Peugeot’s BlueHDi diesel engines to reduce harmful nitrous oxide emissions. A quick flick through the 308’s handbook revealed that the car needed to be refilled with AdBlue every 12,500 miles. 

Trouble is, Peugeot recommends 20,000-mile service intervals. So did I need to book the car in, at extra expense, before my scheduled appointment, or could I do this myself?

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The handbook suggested that adding more of the liquid should be simple, provided I could locate the filler underneath the boot floor. So I made a quick trip to my local dealer, Robins and Day in Chelmsford, Essex, where I picked up a 1.8-litre bottle of AdBlue for £7.84. Happily, the container featured a special filler neck that made pouring the AdBlue in a simple job.

However, a week later, the warning light reappeared. It turns out the tank for the AdBlue has a 17-litre capacity – so my 1.8-litre top-up had barely touched the sides. I returned to Robins and Day where it was revealed there was a larger 10-litre canister of AdBlue for £10.33 – less than £3 more than I’d paid for the much smaller bottle! 

There was a catch, though, because the larger container didn’t have the specially adapted filler neck. So how was I going to get the liquid in the tank? Well, staff at the dealer gave me two options: I could fork out nearly £50 for a special funnel, or cut the empty 1.8-litre bottle in half and use it as a filler neck. Guess which method I chose.

All in all, the process proved to be a bit of a faff. Yes it only took a couple of minutes to fill-up, but it’s strange that such a vital service item should need attention outside the normal maintenance schedule. It’s also frustrating that the dealer didn’t think to supply me with the larger container of AdBlue in the first place. In their defence, staff at Robins and Day were very helpful on my second visit, explaining that this was still a new technology for the brand.

While the AdBlue issue will be a hassle for high-mileage drivers, in most other respects the 308 impresses. The sleek looks and roomy interior give the car a feelgood factor, while the smooth 2.0-litre BlueHDi delivers a strong mix of performance and economy. I’ve even got used to the tardy response of the touchscreen infotainment system. 

In the coming weeks I’m planning to swap the SW’s winter tyres for summer rubber, which should restore some of the car’s sharp handling. Until then, I’m going to put a lid on my AdBlue frustrations and concentrate on the SW’s strengths as a comfortable and desirable family runaround.

Peugeot 308 SW: second report

Small steering wheel makes 308 SW estate fun as well as practical 

Mileage: 10,295Fuel economy: 44.9mpg

Peugeot has raised its game with the 308, and I’m really enjoying running our SW estate. Part of its appeal is the little steering wheel, which, in a nod to the PlayStation generation, helps the car feel more sporty and responsive.

Computer games weren’t a big part of my youth, and the small wheel just reminds me of my first car, a Mini, which featured a racy aftermarket Momo rim. The Peugeot’s wheel takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’re in tune with it, cabin ergonomics are good. I’ve had to position the seat higher than normal to get a clearer view of the dials, but it’s also got more comfortable in time.

The handling is probably better than most Peugeots I’ve driven, but the large alloys give you a nasty shock when you go over even the smallest potholes and the whole car is unsettled over larger dips in the road. However, cornering is sharp and the engine packs a punch. My only slight gripe is the vague gearchange between first and second compared to the rest of the box.

Best estate cars to buy

The 308 has been a practical addition to our fleet, and the large boot has been used for many jobs – from carrying my family’s bikes to transporting some old doors to the tip. Release levers in the boot mean it’s easy to drop the back seats, while the maximum carrying capacity of 1,775 litres is excellent and made even better with the flat floor.

We’ve had a couple of problems with our car, though. The first was random warning lights coming on relating to the Driver Assistance Pack, saying that the SW needed a service. These lights tended to go off after restarting the car.

The other problem is that one of the bootlid light clusters has come loose. It feels like a fixing has broken off, and until I can get to a dealer, the car is sporting some gaffer tape running repairs. We’ve also found the reversing camera isn’t very effective, as the screen is quite dark, although it’s backed up by effective parking sensors.

Still, the 308 SW has really grown on me, and while small things could be improved, I’m very happy with it.

Peugeot 308 SW: first report

Peugeot 308 SW estate is hugely impressive on every front, but it has its foibles

Mileage: 3,090Fuel economy: 45.9mpg

Peugeot was one of the stars of our 2014 Driver Power satisfaction survey, with cars such as its RCZ coupé and 2008 crossover taking well deserved places in the top 20. 

Yet it was its dealers which put in the standout performance, moving up from 26th place in our 2013 study to ninth this year, with owners praising the friendly, attentive and informative staff. As a result, I was looking forward to collecting our new 308 SW from Robins and Day Peugeot in Chiswick, London – and I wasn’t disappointed.

On arrival, I was met by sales assistant Gavin Kapadia, who gave me an in-depth tour of our new car and its many features, plus he answered all of my questions. The service was good, but our fleet’s latest arrival is even better. 

To my eyes, the practical SW estate version of the 308 looks even classier than the standard hatch. The longer, sweeping roofline gives the car a more rakish profile, while our flagship Feline model is given an extra dose of kerb appeal thanks to its 18-inch alloys, full- length panoramic roof and ultra-bright LED headlamps. The optional £525 Rioja Red metallic paint adds the final flourish.

The stylish theme continues inside, where the Peugeot’s sleek and minimalist dashboard design helps create a cool and modern ambience. Most of the car’s major functions are controlled via the centrally mounted 9.7-inch touchscreen. It’s a relatively intuitive layout and the graphics are clear, but it occasionally fails to recognise your touch.

However, even this little quirk isn’t as frustrating as the layout of the high-set dials. No matter how I adjust the steering wheel, parts of the speed and rev counters are always obscured by the rim.

What makes this flaw even more irritating is that it overshadows an otherwise fine cabin. Not only does it look good, it’s robustly built and features top-quality materials throughout. It’s spacious, too, as there’s more than enough room for my growing family. Plus, the well shaped 660-litre boot swallows all of my camera gear with space to spare.

So far I’ve only covered a handful of miles in the 308, but already I’ve been impressed by the smooth and responsive 2.0-litre HDi and the car’s high levels of refinement and comfort. Yet, like all the best Peugeot models, the SW feels alert and agile in corners.

Bosses at Peugeot will be hoping that the brand’s recent Driver Power success won’t prove to be a flash in the pan – and based on the early evidence of our capable 308, I reckon they’ve got very little to worry about.

*Insurance quote provided by AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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