2014 Peugeot 308 SW review

The Peugeot 308 SW estate comes with a wide variety of engines, great equipment levels and one of the biggest claimed boot capacities in the class. We drive the new 85g/km diesel in the UK.

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If you’re one of the many motorists that want a lot of space, but in a car that's still small enough to be easy to park and thread through town traffic, the new Peugeot 308 SW could be for you.

Unlike some estates, the SW is more than just a big boot. In fact, it has a longer wheelbase than the 308 hatch, and is around 33cm longer overall, measuring just under 4.6 metres long.

All the extra space has been used to improve rear head- and legroom over the cramped hatchback, as well as increasing boot space. Its 660-litre claimed boot capacity suggests it should hold even more of life’s paraphernalia than the larger Skoda Octavia Estate.

Petrol options include a 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder, with 109bhp or 129bhp, or those after diesel economy can choose from a 1.6 in a variety of power outputs and a 2.0-litre model.

What’s the 2014 Peugeot 308 SW like inside?

It’s big, but don’t be too misled by the claimed figures – it’s not any bigger than its key rivals, because the load bay is shallower. It's also slightly wider and longer than those in the Skoda Octavia or VW Golf Estate models, but not by much.

Still, it’ll be easy to lug bulky items over the low loading lip and onto the flat boot floor. Even better, you can lower the 60/40 split rear seat using easy-to-reach handles at either side of the boot, and the rear bases move forward and down slightly, creating an impressively flat load space.

Other neat touches include tie-down points, a hook that holds up the boot floor when you want to put something under it, and a cut-out in the plastic moulding designed to accommodate the parcel shelf. It all adds up to a boot that’s as spacious and more useful than the load bays in plenty of bigger estate cars, and is actually more practical (if no more spacious) than the Golf Estate.

However, if rear passenger space is a priority, you may want to look elsewhere, because the 308 SW is quite poor in this respect. There's a bit more knee- and legroom for rear passengers in the SW than in the hatchback, but it's still a long way shy of what you'll find in most rivals.

The cabin, meanwhile, has a clean, uncluttered dashboard design with a pleasing choice of materials and relatively few buttons (although this minimalist approach also applies to the storage space up front, with a tiny glovebox and only one awkwardly placed cupholder). 

On all but entry-level models you control most of the car's systems – including sat-nav, the stereo and even the heating and ventilation – through the central touch-screen. This sounds a little slicker than it really is; there are 'hot keys' that take you to the relevant screens, but it's still a little frustrating to have to select the heater menu before you can then make an adjustment.

The panoramic glass roof that's optional on all but Feline editions certainly brightens up the cabin, particularly for rear passengers. It does impact on headroom in the back, though, so it's worth checking before you tick the box.

All cars get air-conditioning, LED daytime running lights, electric front windows, remote central locking, Bluetooth, USB and a DAB radio as standard.

We’d recommend going for Active trim level (from £18,295), because it brings the multi-function 9.7-inch touch-screen with sat-nav, a USB socket, dual-zone air-con, electric handbrake, automatic headlights and wipers, and rear parking sensors. Higher trims are harder to justify, with little added benefit.

What’s the 2014 Peugeot 308 SW like to drive?

Don’t be put off by the diminutive size of the 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine. In the 129bhp power output it thrums along nicely, delivering sprightly performance even on faster roads.

It’s also impressively hushed at a steady cruise; you’re more likely to be bothered by suspension noise around town and wind noise from the mirrors on the motorway. The six-speed gearbox is also a little notchy, although it’s a slicker shift action than in past Peugeot models.

Just be wary of opting for the 1.2 if you are going to carry heavy loads on a regular basis, because a lot of weight in the back will mean you’ll have to work it very hard to make good progress, at which point it becomes both noisy and uneconomical.

The higher-powered 1.6 diesel motor will be the better bet if you’re going to drive fully loaded, or are a high-mileage driver. We tried the 118bhp BlueHDi (with the lowest emissions in the line-up), which is easily strong enough on the open road, doesn't get bogged down at low speeds and feels more flexible than the 2.0 diesel.

It has a broad spread of torque, even from idle, and keeps pulling up to 4000rpm. It's also very refined for a 1.6-litre unit, and doesn't have the coarse, boomy quality of the 2.0-litre model. It settles down into a nicely hushed cruise, and even when accelerating briskly engine noise never becomes too intrusive.

The 148bhp 2.0-litre is certainly punchy once the turbo gets involved at around 1900rpm, but it feels pretty flat at lower engine speeds. It also generates a constant thrum when you're on the motorway. The gearbox is light enough but could do with being more positive and precise.  

Ride comfort is perfectly decent. There’s a bit of patter from the rear end around town, and it’ll thunk heavily over mid-corner potholes, but it remains composed otherwise. Turn in to a corner and the light steering responds quickly and makes the 308 SW feel quite darty, but heavy body lean and a shortage of bite to the steering means that this practical Peugeot feels best when used for laid-back pottering.
 

Should I buy one? 

There are many reasons why you would. The 308 SW has a usefully huge and very well thought-out load bay, a broad range of decent engines, the best standard equipment levels in the class in Active spec, and is great value for private and company buyers alike.

We'd strongly recommend going for the 1.6 BlueHDi 120 because it's powerful enough to make driving the 308 SW relaxing to drive, really refined, and will be very cheap to run for private and fleet buyers alike.

The only big disappointment is the rear passenger space, which is likely to be a critical factor for many estate buyers; it’s okay at best and is a long way off many rivals. If that doesn’t deter you, then the 308 SW should definitely be on your shortlist.

What Car? says...



Rivals

Skoda Octavia Estate

Volkswagen Golf Estate 

 

Specification
Engine size 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Price from £16,845
Power 109bhp
Torque 154lb ft
0-62mph 11.6 seconds
Top speed 116mph
Fuel economy 60.1mpg
CO2 output 109g/km

Specification
Engine size 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Price from £19,045
Power 129bhp
Torque 173lb ft
0-62mph 10.0 seconds
Top speed 127mph
Fuel economy 57.6mpg
CO2 output 114g/km

Specification
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £17,545
Power 91bhp
Torque 173lb ft
0-62mph 11.9 seconds
Top speed 114mph
Fuel economy 74.3mpg
CO2 output 99g/km

Specification
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel 
Price from £18,345
Power 114bhp
Torque 203lb ft
0-62mph 10.6 seconds
Top speed 121mph
Fuel economy 76.3mpg
CO2 output 95g/km

Specification
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £20,195
Power 118bhp
Torque 225lb ft
0-62mph 10.1 seconds
Top speed 123mph
Fuel economy 88.3mpg
CO2 output 85g/km

Specification
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £21,095
Power 148bhp
Torque 277lb ft
0-62mph 8.9 seconds
Top speed 135mph
Fuel economy 74.3mpg
CO2 output 99g/km

 
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