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In-depth reviews

Peugeot 308 SW estate review

"The Peugeot 308 SW is certainly versatile thanks to a big boot and the option of petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid power"

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Pros

  • Efficient engines
  • Upmarket interior
  • Hybrid options

Cons

  • Poor rear legroom
  • Plug-in hybrid can be jerky
  • Top-spec models are expensive

Verdict - Is the Porsche 308 SW estate a good car?

While family estate cars don’t tend to be the most desirable cars on sale, the Peugeot 308 SW has a certain panache. Its daring design is doing a lot of the heavy lifting here, with striking looks inside and out. If you don’t mind Peugeot’s i-Cockpit layout, the driving experience is pretty good and the SW scores highly for efficiency, with two plug-in hybrid models to appeal to company-car drivers. There’s a huge boot of course, although some rivals offer comfier back seats.

Porsche 308 SW models, specs and alternatives

Thanks to an elongated rear, the Peugeot 308 SW estate offers more boot space than the hatchback, as well as a different shape that’s not without its own appeal. It features Peugeot's latest infotainment and safety technology, and goes head-to-head with models including the Skoda Octavia Estate, Ford Focus Estate and Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, with which the 308 shares many of its parts. For the first time, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model is being offered, as well a fully-electric e-308, which is set to arrive in 2023.

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If you don't want or need the larger Peugeot 3008 SUV, the 308 SW offers lots of practicality and versatility. The economical engine options also make it cheap to run, although range-topping versions get rather expensive and we don’t think they represent such good value.

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The trim levels are called Active Premium, Allure, Allure Premium and GT in ascending order of equipment, but all versions get push-button start, rear parking sensors, air conditioning and a snazzy touchscreen. Every model also gets sharp LED lighting, while Allure and GT-badged cars stand out with diamond-cut alloy wheels and more intricate grilles. In our opinion, the two Allure trims represent the sweet spot for value and equipment for most buyers after a family estate.

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The boot measures up to 608 litres in size for the petrol version, shrinking slightly to 548 litres for the plug-in hybrid because of its battery pack. This compares well with the Skoda Octavia, which has between 660 litres and 490 litres depending on its powertrain. The same can't quite be said for the 308 SW's rear seats, however, which are lacking in legroom compared with the Skoda. There are quite a few storage cubbies and the rear seat backs can be dropped quickly and easily using handles in the boot.

The rest of the interior is stylish and upmarket, with Peugeot's quirky i-Cockpit design that uses digital instruments and a small steering wheel. It's attractive but worthy of a test drive to ensure you find it suits your posture while driving.

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Private buyers are likely to be tempted by the 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines, which both offer more than 45mpg in normal driving. Company-car drivers will be enticed by the two PHEV models, which offer an EV range of up to 42 miles for low CO2 emissions and a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band. An all-electric e-308 model is coming in 2023 with 156bhp and a 248-mile range. Yet no matter which version you choose, the 308 SW has light steering and planted handling with enough punch to easily keep up with traffic.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid options help broaden the 308 SW’s appeal

The 308 SW has been pitched squarely against its rivals, so the petrol and diesel are priced competitively and offer low running costs. They should appeal to private buyers, particularly in low to mid-trim levels, which represent the best value.

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The 1.2-litre petrol is an economical engine, returning around 45mpg most of the time and even topping 50mpg on a long motorway run. If you cover serious miles each year, the 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel could also be worth considering, returning closer to 60mpg in ideal conditions. For most drivers, however, this isn't a big enough advantage to justify the switch to diesel.

Both plug-in hybrids are fitted with the same 12.4kWh battery, which can provide up to 42 miles of electric range when fully charged. A 3.6kW on-board charger is standard, for a 3.5-hour recharging time, while an optional 7.4kW charger drops this to below two hours.

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A fully-electric Peugeot e-308 was announced in late 2022 with a 54kWh battery and a 248-mile range. While it doesn’t go on sale until Summer 2023, the plug-in 308 estate can be charged at speeds of up to 100kW – allowing for a 10-80% charge in around 30 minutes – and will appeal to company car drivers, thanks to its low 2% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax rating.

For now, however, business drivers will find either of the two PHEVs most appealing because low CO2 emissions of around 25g/km means both sit in the low 12% company car tax band. VED (road tax) is charged at the standard rate for the petrol and diesel, while the hybrids are discounted. It’s possible to breach £40,000 on a top-spec 308 SW, but do so and you’ll be paying over £500 a year in VED until the car is six years old.

Engines, drive & performance

Precise handling and competitive performance keep the 308 SW competitive

While it's no performance car, the Peugeot 308 SW is available with a 128bhp petrol or diesel engine offering a sufficient turn of speed, or a brace of plug-in hybrids with more power than most owners are likely to need. All cars come with an automatic gearbox.

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Like most new cars, the 308 SW's steering is light but accurate, making it easy to position the car's nose precisely on the road. It's fitted with the small steering wheel that forms a part of Peugeot's i-Cockpit interior design, and this can take a bit of getting used to at first. Overall, the driving experience is pleasant although it won’t satisfy enthusiasts quite as well as a Ford Focus Estate.

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We've sampled the three-cylinder 1.2-litre PureTech petrol in the hatchback and it comes as standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It can get the 308 from 0-62mph in just under 10 seconds, with reasonable punch from low revs. It's also pretty refined, although the Volkswagen Golf's petrol engine is even quieter.

The plug-in hybrid range kicks off with the Hybrid 180, which gets a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor that gives a combined 178bhp. This gets it from 0-62mph in a brisk 7.7 seconds. There's also a range-topping Hybrid 225, with a more powerful version of the petrol engine for a total of 222bhp. Despite the extra power it doesn’t feel any different to the 180 version, so won't be worth the extra money for most buyers of a small family estate.

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Thanks to help from the electric motor, the Hybrid 225 accelerates quickly but the switch to its fully electric mode is slightly clunky. The automatic gearbox is also slightly too slow to change down and we’d like the electric motor to cut in quicker. With 109bhp on tap in pure electric mode, the 308 SW still feels quick enough to be driven in traffic without struggling.

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Hybrid models feature regenerative braking that adjusts to your driving style - it comes in stronger if you’ve recently pressed the accelerator hard, and is more subtle if you’re travelling at a more relaxed pace. There are different drive modes in top-spec models, but the Sport setting only increases the weight of the steering and slightly improves the gearbox response. For the most part the engine is quiet and unobtrusive rather than characterful, but that means motorway journeys are impressively hushed.

Interior & comfort

Peugeot's i-Cockpit design is innovative and upmarket

The interior is identical to the hatchback, with classy materials and a neat design. However, there's still the issue that some drivers will find the digital instruments obscured by the top of the steering wheel. We also found the steering wheel itself slightly odd, as it has shiny black plastic trim where you'd normally rest your thumbs. There’s a bit too much of this black trim throughout, which looks good at first but isn’t very scratch-resistant and is a magnet for fingerprints.

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Equipment is pretty generous, with Active Premium versions getting 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers, LED lighting, rear parking sensors, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Peugeot's crisp 10-inch instrument display is also standard, along with plenty of safety kit. 

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Step up to Allure trim and there's a chrome grille and 17-inch alloy wheels. Inside, there's a part-leather interior, contrasting stitching and ambient lighting. The infotainment setup is also upgraded to include sat nav, a voice assistant, a rear-view camera and front parking sensors. Allure Premium brings a Drive Assist Pack and wireless smartphone charger, along with keyless entry and all-round parking sensors.

GT models have a sporty look, 18-inch alloys, LED Matrix headlights, black exterior trim and Peugeot badges on the front wings. The interior gains a heated steering wheel, Alcantara trim and a 3D-effect i-Cockpit instrument cluster. An upgraded Focal stereo is an optional extra, but additional sports settings for the controls come as standard.

Practicality & boot space

Even the PHEV has a big boot but rear legroom is compromised

As you'd expect, there's a considerable jump in boot space from the regular 308 to the SW Estate, but elsewhere the Peugeot is only moderately practical. Space for rear passengers is the biggest disappointment, with less legroom than the Skoda Octavia Estate.

At up to 608 litres for the petrol model, luggage space behind the rear seats is certainly impressive. It's also worth noting that 40:20:40 split and fold rear seats are fitted from the Allure trim and upwards. Pick a plug-in hybrid version and the boot shrinks to 548 litres, which is less of a hit than in the plug-in Skoda, which sees its boot cut from 660 litres to 490 litres. The 308's boot floor is raised to accommodate the battery, however, and there's no space underneath to stow the charging cables. 

Reliability & safety

Peugeot has fitted the 308 SW with its latest safety technology

The Peugeot 308 SW doesn't have any reliability data yet but buying one isn't a complete gamble. Much of the technology has proved to be safe and trustworthy in other recent Peugeot models. The petrol and diesel engines in particular have seen service in numerous models, with few common faults reported.

Peugeot also has a good track record of five-star safety ratings when its cars are crash-tested, so it's a slight shame that the 308 (and the related Vauxhall Astra) managed a four-star score. The 308 is fitted with features such as lane keep assist, driver attention alerts and speed limit warnings. 

The fact the 308 dropped one star could be down to quite a bit of its safety technology being optional. Models fitted with Peugeot's Drive Assist Pack also get blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and rear-cross traffic alerts to help prevent collisions while reversing.

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