Peugeot 308 SW review
The Peugeot 308 SW is a sleek-looking estate with a big boot, plenty of equipment and a classy cabin, but not everyone will get on with the driving position
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The Peugeot 308 SW is simply the estate version of the company’s small family car. The line-up of models is almost identical to the hatchback’s, and the SW is an alternative to estate versions of the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Skoda Octavia.
It shares much of the 308 hatchback’s elegant good looks – in fact, it’s one of the sleeker estates on the market – as well as the distinctive and minimalist design of the cabin. For the most part, it works very well, as the quality of the materials and the way it’s all put together are a considerable improvement on past Peugeots.
The touchscreen in the centre console may be a little fiddly to use, but because most of the systems are controlled through it, the dashboard is relatively uncluttered and free of buttons. The result is a reasonably suave and classy interior, while the full-length panoramic roof – standard on the Allure trim level and above – brightens everything up.
One of the biggest differences between the Peugeot 308 SW and the standard hatch is that the front and rear wheels are further apart on the estate, which creates more space inside for passengers, particularly in the rear seats.
In the front, though, the two versions of the 308 are pretty much identical, which is no bad thing. There’s plenty of space for a couple of adults and, as long as they don’t push their seats too far back, there will be enough room in the back seat for a couple more.
Probably the main reason for buying an estate rather than the standard hatchback is the boot and the good news is that the Peugeot 308 SW has one of the best in the business. With the rear seats upright, it can accommodate 660 litres of stuff, and that figure rises to 1,775 litres when you drop the rear seats. That’s more than you’ll find in a Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer or Volkswagen Golf, and the only car that really comes close to the 308’s vital statistics is the Skoda Octavia.
Given how much it can carry, it’s no surprise that the 308 SW follows the hatchback in having quite a soft suspension set-up. Mostly, that makes for a relaxing and easy drive, with only the worst lumps and bumps felt in the cabin.
The 308 hatchback is a fine car, but the SW estate is even better, with economical engines, a comfortable drive and, above all, a big boot
However, it’s not all rosy. The small and low-set steering wheel, which forces you to look at the dials over it, can make it awkward to get a good driving position. What’s more, it can also make faster flowing roads a bit of a chore as the steering gets heavier as you turn the wheel. This feeling is exaggerated further by some of the larger, optional wheels, which also mean you feel more of the bumps in the road.
There’s quite a range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, and most have impressive economy and emissions. The 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engines may sound too small for a car as big as this, but they’re certainly strong enough and, according to the official figures, capable of the best part of 50mpg.
It’s much the same story with the 1.5-litre diesel engine, which is the other option across most of the range. They offer similar performance to the petrol engines, and their better fuel economy is some compensation for their higher price.
There are a couple of bigger engines available – a 1.6-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel – but they’re only available with the range-topping GT trim, which makes them very expensive options.
Whichever engine you choose, you’ll have a car with a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. And, even the most basic Active model comes well equipped, with dual-zone climate control, a 9.7-inch touchscreen, sat-nav and alloy wheels.
Overall, then, the Peugeot 308 SW is a very decent estate that does pretty much everything nearly as well as the class-leader in each respect and has no major weaknesses. As long as you can live with the slightly odd driving position, it’s a belter.