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...

LT Peugeot 308 SW 2022 header

The car Peugeot 308 SW 1.2 Puretech 130 Allure Premium EAT8 | Run by Lawrence Cheung, new cars editor

Why it's here To prove a petrol estate car makes sense in a world heading towards electrified SUVs

Needs to Be practical enough to tackle family and work life, offer a degree of fun and be desirable enough to make you think twice about a trendy SUV

Mileage 7264 List price £29,100 Target Price £27,486 Price as tested £29,100 Test economy 42.9mpg Official economy 52.1mpg Dealer value now £25,075 Private value now £23,300 Running costs (excluding depreciation) Fuel £494.72 

6 March 2023 – Wave goodbye to the What Car? Wagon

Around 20 years ago, I remember watching a Peugeot advert called The Sculptor. It was brilliant. A man ambitiously changes the shape of his saloon car (a Hindustan Ambassador)  by crashing it and hand-beating all the exterior panels into something that roughly resembles a 206 hatchback.  As it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to find this car so desirable, because it went on to become the best-selling Peugeot of all time. 

Now, if my 308 SW is to continue this tradition, it should sell well on looks alone (in my opinion), but does it fall short everywhere else?

Peugeot 308 SW long termer life 2023

Well, because I’m part of the road test team at What Car?, I spend a lot of my time out on the road. Whether it's to the airport or a photo shoot in Wales, my 308 SW has been a great motorway companion for getting me to my destination without feeling restless. The ride settles down nicely, the seats are supportive and noise levels are fairly low.

Around town, I love the fact that threading my 308 SW through narrow roads and multi-storey car parks is easy, thanks to the small steering wheel.

Peugeot 308 SW small steering wheel 2023

However, the driving experience becomes more frustrating when I encounter heavy traffic. With grabby brakes and an overly light pedal, coming to a halt smoothly can be tricky, and the stop-start system that switches off the engine automatically is so clunky that it feels as though the car has stalled. 

As a result, I had to devote one of my ‘i-Toggle’ shortcuts on the infotainment screen to the stop-start system. This meant I could quickly switch it off and reduce the effects of the problem when needed. Having driven the smoother diesel and the plug-in hybrid, this appears to be an issue that affects only the 1.2-litre petrol engine that powers my car.

Performance-wise, the 128bhp engine is nippy enough, but I feel it would be even calmer if it had a little more power. It’s a shame there isn’t an option that offers just a little more punch, because there seems to be a large void between this and the 177bhp plug-in hybrid.

Peugeot 308 SW long termer rear seat space 2023

Otherwise, apart from ticking the heated steering wheel option, there isn’t much I’d change if I were to have another 308 SW. The size and shape has been ideal for my needs, being small enough to feel agile, but with a big enough boot to cater for a family holiday. I love the amount of interior storage space you get, and, while rear leg room remains tight,  the added head room over the 308 hatchback is a bonus.

Would I be tempted by another rival? I’d be swayed by a Ford Focus Estate. It may not be as handsome as my 308 SW, but you can have a slightly more muscular 153bhp 1.0 Ecoboost engine with a manual gearbox, and you can add heated front seats and a heated steering wheel to all models. The Focus is also more spacious for rear seat occupants.

Peugeot 308 SW defrost 2023

Most versions of the Focus also come with a heated front windscreen, which really speeds up the defrosting process in the morning; scraping ice off my 308 SW feels like it takes ages in comparison.

The Ford’s mild hybrid engine also has an incredibly smooth stop-start system that operates far more quickly than my 308’s rudimentary system. And this is all before I mention how much more engaging the Focus is to drive.

Peugeot 308 SW long termer handling 2023

Nevertheless, my original task was to see if my 308 SW could prove whether a petrol estate car made sense in a world heading towards electrified SUVs, and I’d say it’s a partial victory.

As you can probably grasp, my 1.2-litre petrol engine feels a little out of date. With a final average fuel economy figure of 42.9mpg, my 308 SW has been cheap to fuel, but what makes it feel rough around the edges is even more apparent once you’ve spent time in an electric car that’s free from vibration, engine sound and a stop-start system.

As an estate, the 308 SW still appeals more to me than an equivalent SUV. Sure, some passengers noticed how low you sit, but it was never a cause for complaint. And while I wouldn’t have to lean down to fit child seats in a Peugeot 3008, that would be offset by having to heave heavy items over a higher load lip.

Overall, my 308 SW is cheaper to buy and run and better to drive than the equivalent 3008 – a worthwhile trade, in my book, for the high seating position. 

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