Peugeot 308 SW long-term review
The Peugeot 308 SW continues to impress, its boot in particular. The cabin's got plenty of room for a family of four and overall the estate is proving to be economical...
The car Peugeot 308 SW 1.2 Puretech 130 Active
Run by Jim Holder, editor
Needs to Ferry the family and accompanying clobber around; cope with suburban commute
Run by What Car? since October 2014
What's it like?
The Peugeot 308 SW is an estate car that's easy to park and thread through town but still offers plenty of space.
Unlike some estates, the SW is more than just a big boot bolted onto a family hatchback. 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 as much of life’s paraphernalia than the larger Skoda Octavia Estate.
Combine that with impressive fuel economy and it looks like Peugeot could be on to a winner.
The 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine puts out 129bhp and thrums along nicely. It’s also impressively hushed at a steady cruise.
Inevitably, such a small engine doesn’t pack a punch, but who buys an estate for traffic light grands prix anyway? Instead, it delivers power smoothly and flexibly, whether I’m popping around town or on a motorway run. The six-speed gearbox occasionally needs a spot of extra work to get the best from the engine, but it’s never a major bother
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. The light steering means pottering around town is a doddle.
Arguably this is the most important function of an estate car for the family.
Family trips have given us numerous reasons to load the 308 SW to the roof with luggage, and its long load surface proved ideal for our group of four. Rolling back the load cover allowed us to pack the boot to the roofline, while the largely rectangular shape was ideal for accomodating suitcases and bags designed to fit in right-angled spaces. It's also worth a note of praise for the low lpad lip, which makes it a doddle to swing larger items in to the boot without too much effort.
For the record, the boot is measured officially at 660 litres, or 1775 litres with the seats down. That's very large for the class, and compares favourably to the rival Skoda Octavia estate, which is rated at 610 litres seats up and 1740 seats down.
For the large part, however, the 308 SW has been used to ferry kids and their assorted paraphernalia around: perhaps a bike or two, or a buggy. In other words, large, awkwardly shaped loads that in reality aren’t that heavy. For those jobs, it has also excelled.
I've been impressed by the levers in the boot that drop the 60/40 split rear seats flat, while the sliding, removable magnetic clamps and a strap that allow me to partition the boot have proved useful, too. If I'm honest, I don't use either often - but when I do I'm grateful that they are there.
One of the common criticisms of the Peugeot 308 hatch is the shortage of rear passenger legroom.
I'm pleased to report that the issue is less pronounced in the 308 SW, which is a relief given I don't like shoving the driver's seat too far forward to compensate because I'm 6ft 4in tall.
So, I’m here to make the case that it doesn’t have to be a significant issue. If you don’t carry adult passengers in the back of your car often - and, frankly, how many people do? - then this is a problem that ends up going away.
My kids are seven and five. The tallest (pictured) is about 135cm tall, and even sat behind my lanky frame, he still has legroom to spare. I know this because, like most kids his age, he’s prone to a good moan. Now with a couple of thousand miles under our belts, he has yet to pick up on this issue.
So, too, do he and his sister love the full length £500 glass panoramic roof. No question, for adults even slightly above average height it’s depth impinges on headroom. But for kids it’s a delight, lending the cabin an extra airiness and giving them the chance to count stars, planes or anything else that might be passing.
Peugeot 308 SW specification
I’m pleased with our car’s Active trim, the lowest available with this engine. Standard kit includes dual-zone air-con, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers, lumbar support and a 9.7-inch touch-screen with sat-nav, which is generous by class standards.
Nor does this break the bank relative to the opposition, especially when you investigate the generous Target Price savings that are available as a minimum. That said, I’ve bumped that price up with a panoramic roof, front foglights and metallic paint.
Peugeot 308 SW mpg
Petrol or diesel? It’s a frequently asked question that’s hard to answer without a calculator, some very specific numbers and the help of a crystal ball to help with long-term planning. It’s also increasingly complicated by the ever-advancing efficiency gains of small, turbocharged petrol engines and the increasing costs of diesel cars as emissions legislation kicks in, requiring them to eject fewer pollutants than ever before.
For years, I’ve gravitated towards diesel. Despite my tiny six-mile commute, I also have a family to haul around and relatives in far-flung corners of the country. Typically, I’ll drive around 15,000 miles a year, which puts me firmly on the borderline of whether I’m financially better off with petrol or diesel powering my car. Now’s the time to find out.
This Peugeot 308 SW is powered by a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. Just writing that sentence makes me stutter, because it sounds so utterly underwhelming, especially when you consider it is required to pull a family estate along motorways as often as it is tooling around town. However, Peugeot has usurped many of its rivals with its turbocharged technology, badged Pure Tech, producing a truly good turbocharged engine that’s both punchy and quiet. The claimed 60.1mpg is eye-catching, too – although a real-world figure will be intriguing.
It’s worth pausing, too, to consider the other benefits of petrol. When coupled with a six-speed manual gearbox and 16-inch wheels, the 1.2 e-THP 130 (to give it its full name) emits 109g/km of CO2, meaning it costs just £20 a year in VED, and attracts a benefit-in-kind (BIK) rate of 15%. There is also the more philosophical debate surrounding the lower emissions of other harmful pollutants beyond CO2 in comparison with a diesel, especially as my commute is entirely town-based.
It’s early days, but so far the theories have been borne out. Around town and on the modest trips I’ve made, the 308 SW feels more than nimble enough for my needs. It’s refined and doesn’t need to be worked hard to maintain momentum. A bigger test will come on a family motorway run, but to date I’ve absolutely no regrets about my engine choice.
With approaching 3000 miles on the clock, the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine loosened up a touch, and it continues to offer a masterclass in delivering just enough performance without ever straying in to ‘not enough’ or ‘too much’. Peugeot hasn’t always had the greatest reputation for engineering excellence, but on this occasion it has excelled.
Better still, even in care-free driving I’m averaging just under 45mpg. That’s someway off the official 60.1mpg, but still highly respectable. Even on fast, long motorway trips with the family in tow and the boot fully laden I’ve managed 40mpg without trying.
With a more careful right foot and no time pressures, I've managed a trip computer indicated 57.5mpg. Sure, this required a steady 55mph cruise on the motorway, but with time to kill and the only alternative being sat in a cold car park watching the minutes tick by, it was an interesting exercise.
The engine is refined, too. Despite its size, this isn’t an engine that needs revving hard; anything up to 2800rpm is delivered with very little noise intrusion. Call me a snob, but I hadn’t expected so much from a Peugeot - I’m delighted to be being proved wrong.
Peugeot 308 SW problems
Concerns? I have a few, but none are deal breakers.
The small steering wheel beloved of all new Peugeots needs to be set unusually low if I am to see the instruments over it. Over time, I've got used to it, but it does seem willfully awkward.
Meanwhile, the touch-screen controller of all functions from the sat-nav to the temperature and radio controls is frustratingly slow-witted. In truth, it is a triumph of design over practicality, and the need to push the screen means I take my eyes from the road too often for my liking. Rivals such as Volvo have proved that touchscreen systems can be both intuitive and quick to respond, and Peugeot needs to update its system to keep pace with its opposition.
On the whole, however, life with this Peugeot leaves a positive glow, both for its all-round capabilities and the fact that it could well be a standard-bearer for a new generation of cars powered by small, petrol engines.
All in, it’s proving to be a spacious, economical and eminently sensible family load-lugger.
Peugeot 308 SW statistics
List price £19,295
Target Price £17,385
Price as tested £20,450
Options Cumulus Grey metallic paint (£525); panoramic Cielo glass roof (£500); front foglights (£130)
Test fuel economy 50.1
True MPG 46.1
CO2 tax liability 109g/km/15%
Contract hire £249
Cost per mile 44.9p
Insurance group 14
Typical quote £479
Best family SUVs 2023
Want practicality, class and an elevated driving position in a relatively compact package? Then these are the top 10 cars you should be looking at – and the ones that are best avoided
Peugeot 308 SW long-term test
The Peugeot 308 SW is one of the sharpest-looking estates around, but does this come at the expense of practicality? We're living with it to find out