Peugeot 308 SW review

The latest generation of Peugeot’s big-booted family hatchback is better to look at and better to drive than ever before.

Pros: striking design, refined engines, big boot

Cons: driving position won’t suit everyone

SW is Peugeot’s code for ‘estate’, and this is the more practical, big-booted version of the French company’s eye-catching 308 hatchback. Adding a massive boot to the 308’s already lengthy list of attributes sounds like a recipe for instant success, but can the SW tempt buyers out of their SUVs?

Peugeot 308 SW Design

Whereas the old Peugeot 308 felt a bit conservative, the new car is nothing of the sort. Bold lines, a sharp nose and those fang-like LED stripes at the front mark out the 308 as one of the best-looking family cars on the market. And the transition from hatchback to estate car has done nothing to ruin the image.

The larger rear has been neatly grafted onto the existing body shape, creating a sporty-looking silhouette with bags of style. The chiselled lines give it a kind of two-tier spoiler, with one above the rear window and one below, while the narrow taillights feel futuristic and cool.

Naturally, the design depends partly on which trim level you choose. The basic Active model rides on 16-inch alloy wheels (unless you get the plug-in hybrid with 17-inch alloys) and comes with a dark grille, but more upmarket models get bigger wheels and chrome grilles, giving the car a slightly sportier edge. And it’s colour-dependent, too, with some glorious greens and blues giving the car even more visual appeal than the more understated greys, whites and blacks.

Peugeot 308 SW Interior

The front half of the 308 SW’s cabin is identical to that of the 308 hatchback, and that’s good news. The dashboard is almost entirely devoid of buttons, but it’s punctuated by a digital instrument display, a touchscreen infotainment system and a smaller screen below the main display.

This new system is a massive step forward, providing a more responsive touchscreen and a handy configurable ‘hotkey’ selection using the smaller screen below. The set-up isn’t perfect, but it’s more modern than before and much easier to use.

Cabin quality has improved, too, with some lovely materials in the 308’s cockpit. The switchgear that hasn’t been replaced by touchscreens feels solid, although some of the surfaces manage to look cheaper than they feel, which means you don’t realise how tactile it all is until you get hands-on with it. Nevertheless, it’s all built to a standard that easily rivals the likes of Kia and Skoda.

But practicality is the all-important aspect of the 308 SW, and it certainly delivers on that front. Let’s start with the boot, which measures a chunky 608 litres with the rear seats upright. Fold them down and you get more than 1,000 extra litres to play with, taking the total to 1,634 litres.

Cabin space is good, too, thanks to a longer wheelbase that allows the new 308 to offer more rear legroom than its predecessor. It still isn’t as roomy as the larger Skoda Octavia Combi, but it’s perfectly adequate, and taller passengers will welcome the fact the SW has more rear headroom than the hatchback.

Peugeot 308 SW Performance & Drive

As you might expect from a French family car, the Peugeot 308 and its SW-badged sibling are both set up for comfort over handling. The SW is carrying a little more weight – particularly at the rear – than the hatchback, but it manages to ride almost as well. It feels a little stiffer over sharp imperfections, but it’s largely very comfortable, and it’ll make motorway driving a doddle.

Yet despite the compliance in the suspension, it still manages to drive well when it’s pushed. The body leans a little more than that of the hatchback and you can feel the extra weight pulling the car around, but the difference is hardly night and day.

The engine range is appealing, too. Things kick off with the 1.2-litre PureTech 130 petrol engine, which comes with an automatic gearbox as standard. The 130hp, three-cylinder unit manages to provide more than adequate power and impressive refinement. It’s a tried-and-tested engine used across the Peugeot, Citroen and Opel ranges, and it’s surprisingly smooth.

Alternatively, there’s a similarly powerful BlueHDi 130 diesel engine – a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard – or you can have one of the plug-in hybrids. Both use a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor to provide propulsion, but the power outputs are quite different. The cheaper of the two produces 180hp, while the more expensive and more powerful option churns out 225hp. More importantly, Peugeot reckons the hybrids can manage up to 60km using battery power alone, which will suit those who mostly use their car for short journeys.

In truth, the PureTech 130 engine will be efficient and powerful enough for most buyers. According to official figures, it can use as little as 5.4 litres of fuel per 100km, and it’ll get from a standstill to 100km/h in less than 10 seconds, which is more than enough to keep up with traffic.

Peugeot 308 SW Pricing

The Peugeot 308 SW starts at €32,765, and is €1,000 more expensive than the equivalent hatch for most of the line-up. Even the cheapest model, the entry-level Active version, is well-equipped with alloy wheels, rear parking sensors and climate control, as well as a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity tech. Those features are expected alongside automatic LED lights and automatic wipers, plus a digital instrument display and push-button ignition.

Carzone Verdict: 4/5

Thanks to its bold modern design, solid quality and comfortable ride, the 308 has become one of the best estates in the sector. It remains to be seen whether buyers will be willing to ditch their SUVs for it, however.

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