Peugeot 308 SW review

Category: Estate car

The 308 SW is a comfy, classy estate car but some rivals are better to drive

Peugeot 308 SW front right driving
  • Peugeot 308 SW front right driving
  • Lawrence Cheung test driving Peugeot 308 SW
  • Peugeot 308 SW boot open
  • Peugeot 308 SW interior infotainment
  • Peugeot 308 SW right driving
  • Peugeot 308 SW front cornering
  • Peugeot 308 SW front right driving
  • Peugeot 308 SW front left driving
  • Peugeot 308 SW rear cornering
  • Peugeot 308 SW front right static
  • Peugeot 308 SW right static
  • Peugeot 308 SW rear left static
  • Peugeot 308 SW rear lights detail
  • Peugeot 308 SW interior front seats
  • Peugeot 308 SW interior back seats
  • Peugeot 308 SW front right driving
  • Lawrence Cheung test driving Peugeot 308 SW
  • Peugeot 308 SW boot open
  • Peugeot 308 SW interior infotainment
  • Peugeot 308 SW right driving
  • Peugeot 308 SW front cornering
  • Peugeot 308 SW front right driving
  • Peugeot 308 SW front left driving
  • Peugeot 308 SW rear cornering
  • Peugeot 308 SW front right static
  • Peugeot 308 SW right static
  • Peugeot 308 SW rear left static
  • Peugeot 308 SW rear lights detail
  • Peugeot 308 SW interior front seats
  • Peugeot 308 SW interior back seats
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Introduction

What Car? says...

We reckon someone involved in the creation of the Peugeot 308 SW estate car is a fan of the hit film School of Rock.

Why? Well, in the movie, Jack Black plays a guitarist who discovers it's possible to embrace practicality while still having fun. And that ethos has gone into the 308 SW too: it’s aiming to be sensible and useful but with a hint of fun underneath.

As you might expect, the SW is based on the Peugeot 308 and it shares that car's eye-catching looks. It's also available for the first time as a plug-in hybrid, which could be good news if you're looking for a company car (and sets its apart from the rival Ford Focus Estate).

Oh, and there's also a fully electric version of the SW (as well as the hatchback) – to read about that, see our Peugeot E-308 review.

So, is the Peugeot 308 SW good enough to compete with the best estate cars out there, or should you pick a different model? Read on to find out...

Peugeot 308 SW rear cornering

Overview

The Peugeot 308 SW is a compelling alternative to other family estate cars, with a decent boot, a pleasant interior and the option of plug-in hybrid power. It’s sure to turn heads, but the 308 SW falls short of being a great all-rounder with rivals offering more rear seat space and better refinement.

  • Good equipment levels
  • Comfortable interior
  • PHEV option lowers running costs
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Grabby brakes
  • Not as agile as some rivals
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Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £39,160
Peugeot 308 1.6 Hybrid Allure 5dr e-EAT8 review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

There's one petrol-only option in the Peugeot 308 SW engine range – an excellent 129bhp 1.2-litre unit. It pulls strongly from low revs, and is as at home on a motorway as it is in town, even when the car is weighed down by luggage and passengers.

The sole diesel engine available is a 1.5-litre engine that matches the petrol for power. It too pulls well from low revs, but doesn't rev as sweetly as the petrol.

There are also two plug-in hybrid (PHEV) choices, starting with the Hybrid 180. That pairs a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor for a combined 177bhp – enough for 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds.

The 12.4kWh battery pack offers a WLTP-certified electric-only range of more than 40 miles. The electric motor’s instant acceleration makes driving in town effortless, and if you’re gentle with the accelerator, you can get up to motorway speeds without waking the engine.

The higher-powered PHEV version, the Hybrid 225, has the same set-up, but power from the petrol engine is boosted, and you get a combined 222bhp. It feels fast enough when you put your foot down, but we suspect most 308 SW buyers will find the Hybrid 180 powerful enough.

Suspension and ride comfort

The 308 SW rides well over most surfaces and does a reasonable job of cushioning you from larger bumps.

The Skoda Octavia Estate is comfier still, while the Ford Focus Estate and the Seat Leon Estate have firmer set-ups that give them better body control over undulating roads.

Peugeot 308 image
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With most car models, it's best to go for smaller wheels if comfort is a priority, and the same is true here. Alloys up to 18in are available, but we'd expect 16in ones to give you the most comfortable ride. The two PHEVs are slightly firmer than pure petrol and diesel versions because of the weight of the batteries.

Still, no 308 SW is uncomfortable, and you won’t find yourself wincing every time you go over a drain cover or pothole.

Handling

The 308 SW has softer suspension and more body lean than the most agile estate cars but it’s far from being wallowy in the corners. There’s plenty of grip on offer and the small steering is light and accurate around town.

Peugeot’s i-Cockpit interior design means it has a small steering wheel, which helps it to feel quick through turns. It doesn’t weight up much as you turn in to corners on faster roads, meaning it’s not as engaging as the Focus and Leon.

Those two rivals also offer far better body control than the 308 SW, and remain the handling benchmarks in this class.

Noise and vibration

The 308 SW isolates you from the outside world reasonably well around town, but there's a noticeable amount of tyre roar once you reach motorway speeds. That's accompanied by wind noise around the door mirrors.

The 1.2-litre petrol isn’t particularly hushed (especially at higher revs) but it doesn’t sound harsh when you work it hard.

The 1.5-litre diesel doesn't sound as pleasant, but remains quiet and is smoother than the petrol, sending fewer vibrations through the pedals and steering wheel.

The PHEVs are even quieter, especially in electric-only mode. Some of our test cars had double-glazed front windows that further cut out exterior noise.

All 308 SWs come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that you can override using paddles on the steering wheel. It shifts smoothly but can be slow to change down when you want to press on, and incredibly hesitant when setting off from stationary.

There's a stop-start system, but because it's jerky and unpredictable it makes the car tricky to drive smoothly at low speeds. The grabby and inconsistent brakes don’t help, with the light brake pedal making it difficult to judge how much pressure is required.

Driving overview

Strengths Reasonably quiet at a cruise; respectable performance

Weaknesses Awful auto gearbox; lots of body lean in bends; loose body control

Lawrence Cheung test driving Peugeot 308 SW

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

The driving position in the Peugeot 308 SW is mostly sound, with plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel. Setting up your preferred position shouldn’t take too long, but the slightly offset pedals from the seat and steering wheel might hamper comfort on longer drives.

The i-Cockpit design is set up so you look over, rather than through, the small steering wheel at the standard 10in digital instrument cluster. It takes some getting used to, and if you're particularly tall or short, the wheel can obscure your view.

Higher-spec GT trim models have a 3D effect on the instrument panel, but the graphics aren't very slick. The colour contrast isn't as good as in the Audi A3 Sportback or versions of the Ford Focus Estate with a digital driver display.

The 308 SW follows the trend for having minimal physical buttons on its dashboard, but it does have toggles to let you adjust the temperature and other vehicle settings without delving too far into the infotainment screen.

If you choose Allure trim or above, you get a row of large touch-sensitive icons that you can set up to take you to commonly used features – the sat-nav or your favourite radio station, for example.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Front visibility in the 308 SW is good, with a low dash and slim windscreen pillars that save you from constantly checking your sides at junctions.

The large door mirrors help when checking what’s behind you and rear visibility is better than in the hatchback Peugeot 308 because of the larger rear windscreen and slightly thinner pillars.

Every 308 SW comes with rear parking sensors as standard, while Allure models get front and rear sensors and a rearview camera. A 360-degree camera and a self-parking system is optional on Allure and GT cars.

Eco LED headlights come as standard on Active and Allure 308s, while GT models have full matrix LED lights, which automatically adapt their pattern to provide maximum visibility without dazzling other drivers.

Sat nav and infotainment

The i-Cockpit infotainment system, presented on a 10in touchscreen in the 308 SW, is better than in earlier 308s we’ve tried. It features clear, crisp graphics and is packed with features and customisation options.

The screen can be a little slow to respond when you touch it, though, and a lack of proper buttons or haptic feedback means that using it is inherently more distracting than systems using a rotary controller.

You can bypass the Peugeot system because wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring come as standard (wireless mirroring is an option on GT models).

Or, you can just tell the car what to do instead with the natural voice recognition software. It worked well when we tested it, allowing us to ask the car to alter the temperature, change the radio station or set a new sat-nav destination merely by talking to it with "Okay Peugeot…".

Need to charge up your phone? There are two USB Type C ports in the front of the 308 SW, and two more in the rear, so everyone will be able to get enough juice for their devices.

Quality

The surfaces you’ll touch regularly in the 308 SW feel premium enough and are covered with squidgy plastics and soft-touch materials.

You don’t need to search far to find some harder, scratchier plastics lower down though, particularly around the lower door cards and central tunnel. 

The Skoda Octavia Estate is better here, because while it too features harder plastics lower down, its materials feel pleasant enough to touch. The 308 SW is about on a par with the Seat Leon Estate and everything feels well screwed together and built to last.

Interior overview

Strengths Appealing mix of interior materials; infotainment screen is crisp

Weaknesses The driving position won’t work for everyone; the infotainment system could be snappier

Peugeot 308 SW boot open

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

Even those who shop both big and tall will have enough space around them in the front of the Peugeot 308 SW. There’s very little chance of you rubbing shoulders with the person sitting next to you.

You’ll also find plenty of options to stow your keys, wallet or whatever else you might want to bring with you.

Spaces range from a wide door bin to a deep cubby underneath the central arm rest, while your phone will slide neatly into a recess at the front of the centre console. This can be equipped with an optional wireless phone-charging pad.

Rear space

A six-footer sitting behind someone who’s as tall as they are won’t want to be in the back of the 308 SW for very long.

Their head will be close to brushing the roof-lining and their knees will be pressed into the seatback in front of them. There’s also less space for feet under the seats than in the Seat Leon Estate and Ford Focus Estate.

Smaller adults and children will be fine, but if you plan to carry lofty passengers frequently, the Skoda Octavia Estate is definitely a better bet. Anyone in the middle back seat will be rubbing shoulders with the person next to them, and has to straddle a central tunnel, although for short journeys it should be fine.

There’s more storage in the rear, with wide door bins and a cubby for your change on the back of the centre console. The centre armrest folds down to reveal two cupholders and a tray for pens and other slim items.

Seat folding and flexibility

The 308 SW’s rear seats split and fold in a 40/20/40 arrangement, which is more versatile than the Peugeot 308 hatchback’s 60/40 set-up.

They can be dropped using handy grab handles inside the boot. That’s useful because if you’re loading up larger items and realise you need more space, you don’t need to venture around the side of the car to drop the rear bench.

Boot space

The 308 SW’s boot isn’t quite up there with the Leon Estate or Octavia Estate, but it beats both the Focus Estate and the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer for volume. There are also handy little features, including a 12V power socket, a side-mounted hook and luggage nets on either side.

Fitting in a couple of large suitcases for a family holiday will pose no problems, and we dare say even the results of an adventurous outing to Ikea won’t have you calling upon your best Tetris skills.

The boot itself is a usefully square shape, with a minimal lip at the entrance when the adjustable floor is set to its highest setting, so getting your items in and out should be a doddle.

Of course, you can drop the 308 SW’s rear seats if you need to, opening up the load volume to a generous 1,634 litres. If you go for one of the PHEV versions, the boot shrinks a little to accommodate the 12.4kWh battery pack, but it should still be more than big enough for the needs of most families.

Just be aware that if you spec the spare wheel (only available on petrol and diesel versions) it takes up most of the underfloor storage area.

Practicality overview

Strengths Decent space up front; plenty of storage space

Weaknesses Cramped rear seats; boot not as big as in Seat Leon Estate or Skoda Octavia Estate

Peugeot 308 SW interior infotainment

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The Peugeot 308 SW is priced broadly in line with its key rivals, but the lower-end trims give you the best value for money. The Hybrid 180 engine is our preferred option, but you’ll have to step up to the second cheapest Allure trim level to get it.

Peugeot routinely offers good discounts across its model range, and we’d expect that to hold true of the new 308 SW in time too. You can check the latest prices on our New Peugeot deals pages.

Running costs should be very cheap for the PHEV models, and they sit in low company car tax bands. The non-PHEV 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel are also economical, with low CO2 emissions.

The PHEVs take just over seven hours to charge to 100% if you’re using a three-pin plug. That drops to three hours and five minutes if you use a 7.4kW wall box charger and one hour and 55 minutes when combined with the 308 SW’s optional 7.4kW on-board charger (the standard unit is 3.7kW).

Equipment, options and extras

The 308 SW range is broken up into Active, Allure, and GT trims, and no version is poorly equipped. Standard kit includes 16in alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, LED headlights, and the 10in infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Allure is our favourite trim as it adds 17in alloys, front parking sensors, a reversing camera and sat-nav, while range-topping GT introduces luxuries such as 18in alloy wheels, full-grain leather steering wheel, a 3D effect for the digital dials, ambient lighting on the doors and full matrix LED headlights.

Reliability

We don't have specific reliability data for the latest 308 SW, but Peugeot came 21st out of 32 car makers ranked in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey.

For comparison, Ford, Seat and Skoda did better, but Vauxhall came much further down the table, in 30th place.

Every 308 SW comes with a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, while the 12.4kWh battery pack of the PHEV versions is covered for up to eight years or 100,000 miles.

Safety and security

The 308 SW achieved four out of five stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP and testers noted a weak level of chest protection for the driver in a frontal impact. Unsurprisingly, the closely-related Vauxhall Astra achieved a similar score. The Ford Focus scored five stars, but bear in mind that that was in 2019 under less stringent testing regulations.

The list of standard safety kit on the 308 is comprehensive, with blind-spot detection, a speed limiter, cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and traffic-sign recognition all included, as well as an automatic emergency braking (AEB) system that can spot pedestrians and cyclists.

Costs overview

Strengths Priced broadly in line with rivals; running costs for the PHEV should be low

Weaknesses Relatively poor NCAP rating; standard equipment not particularly generous

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FAQs

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £4,347
Target Price from £26,456
Save up to £4,347
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Nearly new deals
From £22,498
RRP price range £29,440 - £43,370
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)6
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)diesel, petrol, petrol parallel phev, electric
MPG range across all versions 242.7 - 62.6
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £82 / £1,945
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £165 / £3,889
Available colours