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"
- Efficient engines
- Upmarket interior
- Hybrid options
- Poor rear legroom
- Plug-in hybrid can be jerky
- Top-spec models are expensive
Thanks to an elongated rear, the Peugeot 308 SW estate offers more boot space than the hatchback, as well as a different shape. It features Peugeot's latest infotainment and safety technology, and goes head-to-head with models including the Skoda Octavia Estate and Ford Focus Estate. It's also offered as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) for the first time.
If you don't want or need an 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 aren’t as good value.
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 the battery. 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 you. There's also a large selection of trims, from Active Premium to GT Premium, to ensure buyers can get the styling elements and kit they desire. In our opinion, the two Allure trims represent the sweet spot for value and equipment.
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 37 miles for low CO2 emissions and a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band. No matter which is chosen, the 308 SW has light steering and planted handling with enough punch to easily keep up with traffic.
MPG, running costs & CO2
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.
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 37 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.
Business drivers will find the PHEVs most appealing because low CO2 emissions of around 25g/km mean it sits in a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band, helping keep bills low. VED (road tax) is charged at the standard rate for the petrol and diesel, while the hybrids are discounted.
Engines, drive & performance
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.
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 without satisfying enthusiasts quite as well as a Ford Focus Estate.
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 217bhp. It's surprisingly fast but won't be worth the extra money for most buyers of a small family estate.
Thanks to help from the electric motor, the Hybrid 225 accelerates quickly but the switch to its fully electric mode is slightly clunky. With 109bhp on tap in pure electric mode, the 308 SW still feels quick enough to be driven in traffic without struggling.
Interior & comfort
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.
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.
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.
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 Clean Cabin Technology to filter out pollutants, a heated steering wheel, Alcantara trim and a 3D-effect i-Cockpit instrument cluster. An upgraded Focal stereo is also fitted, along with additional sports settings for the controls. Range-topping GT Premium trim swaps the front seats for more supportive items with lumbar adjustment and massaging functions.
Practicality & boot space
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
The Peugeot 308 SW doesn't have a Euro NCAP safety rating or 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. The 308 is fitted with features such as lane keep assist, driver attention alerts and speed limit warnings.
Models fitted with Peugeot's Drive Assist Pack also get blind-spot detection, adaptive cruise control and rear-cross traffic alerts to help prevent collisions while reversing.