When did estate cars become more appealing than their hatchback and saloon bretheren?
Whenever it was we aren’t complaining – who doesn’t want the economy and performance of a regular car, with sleeker styling and greater practicality?
The new Peugeot 308 SW offers all those attributes and more, and we’ve come away from our first drive in northern France as impressed as we were with the regular hatchback.
As well as the subtle-but-attractive estate body – perhaps the prettiest car in its class – Peugeot used its Le Touquet launch to debut its new 1.2-litre PureTech turbocharged petrol engine.
With a small capacity and three cylinders, it’s aimed directly at cars like Ford’s Ecoboost-engined offerings. With 130 horsepower though it’s a little more potent than the 125-horse Ford, and at 60.1 mpg combined on the smallest wheel option it’s ever so slightly more economical than the 1-liter unit in Ford’s Focus Estate.
Off to a good start then. That continues on the road, where the three-pot is every bit as refined as Ford’s already-excellent Ecoboost, and performance feels, if anything, a little stronger in the real world. There’s a really healthy shove from modest revs in second gear – maximum torque hits at 1,750 rpm – and like most modern three-cylinders, the engine spins sweetly to the red line.
The gearbox on our low-miles test car was a little notchy – a slightly higher-mile diesel model felt a lot swifter through the cogs – but it’s easy enough to make the most of both the car’s performance and real-world economy.
Ah yes, economy. Modern turbo’d threes aren’t best known for great real-world figures, and true to form we saw about 20 mpg less than the official numbers. That’s not bad for a car with so few miles under its wheels though, and while rural roads around Le Touquet are fairly flat and gentle on economy, we made no real effort to save fuel.
Like the regular 308, the SW rides nicely (though again, Le Touquet’s roads are quite smooth), and barely feels any bigger when you hustle it through corners.
In fact, the only time you’ll notice is when you peer in your mirror – that rear window seems a great deal further away, and visbility is reduced as a result. The benefit is a 660-litre boot (that Focus Estate is just 476 litres), and it’s a practical space too. Luggage can be stored under a net, or under the boot floor itself, in a bin to either side or secured with two smooth rails running along the floor.
The rest of the interior is successful too. We’re fans of Peugeot’s new high-dials, low-set wheel driving position here at carwow – set the wheel how you’re supposed to, a little lower than normal, and you’ve none of the blocked-dials issues that some drivers mention. The touchscreen-based controls work well too, though we’d like a little more haste to the screen’s responses.
And after an afternoon and a morning of driving around Pas-de-Calais, the car’s seats – whether leather-trimmed or cloth – proved more than comfortable enough.
Price: 16,845 – 23,095
MPG: 54.3 – 60.1
CO2: 109 – 119 g/km
If you can afford the extra 1,100 the 308 SW costs over its hatchback counterpart, we reckon it’s well worth choosing. It’ll look better on your driveway and the differences in running costs are negligible – just over 1 mpg difference and identical tax bills. At the same time, you’ve got that extra boot volume and no apparent compromise in ride or handling.
We’ll have our review of the BlueHDi diesel up soon, but the petrol is well worth considering. It’s smooth, and never feels too overburdened by the 308 SW’s size. Read our guide to buying petrol and diesel cars to see why the new PureTech engine could be the pick of the 308 range.