Peugeot 308 SW review

Get 3 months FREE breakdown cover!

With 12 months of Ultimate cover, new customers get 3 months for free.* Plus, get roadside and home rescue as standard, only with the RAC.^

Peugeot's third generation 308 SW isn't quite as practical as before, but you might now like it a lot more, thinks Jonathan Crouch

Ten Second Review

Peugeot's 308 SW estate is a more polished proposition in this third generation guise, with smart packaging, extra engineering options and a bit more useful technology. The result is a more desirable product than you might expect from this familiar Gallic brand. You might be surprised at how much you'd like it.

Background

We've always struggled a little with the concept of a 'compact estate car'. After all, most people buy an estate in search of space and versatility, both tough briefs to meet if the model in question is in any way compact. Though not in this case. Not with this car - the third generation version of Peugeot's 308 SW. Here's proof positive that it isn't how big your car is that matters. It's how cleverly it's been designed for interior use of the space that it has. This 308 SW measures in at 4.64m but offers up to 1634-litres of space almost as much as the brand's larger 508 SW.

The last 308 SW wasn't really a car many customers would have chosen in preference to a Golf Estate, let alone anything premium, but this MK3 version might be. Everything's different - even the front Peugeot grille badge. And the sharky looks clothe a cabin that could just be the segment's most sophisticated. Premium values with mainstream value? Is that what we've got here? Let's find out.

Driving Experience

Under the bonnet, there's a mix of something old and something new. Familiarity comes with perusal of the two conventional petrol units, updated versions of the brand's usual PureTech three cylinder i.2-litre powerplants. They're available as usual with either 110 or 130hp, the latter unit with the option of EAT8 8-speed auto transmission. The brand is also still offering its usual 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel - in 130hp form, mated to 6-speed manual transmission.

As for what's new, well inevitably it's electrified. There are two petrol Plug-in Hybrid units, starting with the Hybrid 180 model which combines a 150hp PureTech petrol engine with a 109hp electric motor and a 12.4kWh battery smaller than that in the 3008 SUV, but large enough to take the car up to 37 miles between charges. The same range is also possible from the alternative Hybrid 225 variant, which combines a 180bhp petrol engine with the same 109bhp electric motor for a maximum combined power output of 225hp.

What about autonomous drive technology? After all, a car of this kind these days isn't quite complete without it To satisfy this need, the French maker is offering its 'Peugeot Drive Assist 2.0' set-up. Previously, PSA Group tech relied on stop-and-go cruise control and lane-keep assist, but this evolved set-up can now automatically adapt the speed of the car around corners, operating at speeds up to 112mph.

Design and Build

This third generation 308 SW is 60mm longer than its predecessor, making it 4.64-metres long; and it's been lowered by 20mm. There's a longer-looking bonnet and a lower-looking nose bearing the latest, rather different Peugeot badge on its grille. Flanking this are slimmer LED headlights complemented by Peugeot's fang-like LED daytime running lights. In profile, there's a sleeker look that's delivered a more slippery 0.277Cd drag coefficient.

There's 55mm of extra wheelbase this time round, which has benefitted rear seat passengers - but not the cargo area, space in which falls by 52-litres over the previous generation model to 608-litres (though that's still very class-competitive). There's an adjustable height boot floor but despite 55mm of extra wheelbase this time round, there's been no return to offering the third seating row that characterised the first generation version of this model. You can extend the cargo area to 1,634-litres with the seats retracted - they now fold in a more convenient 40:20:40-split with catches on the cargo area side walls. In this format, items up to 1.85m long can be accommodated.

Up-front, you still get Peugeot's i-Cockpit layout with its small steering wheel, but that now sits beneath a completely new digital instrument panel, with clever 3D image tech borrowed from the brand's smaller 208 supermini. The tall, sloping dashboard features a sharp-looking 10-inch touchscreen display which has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity and is available in two forms - basic 'i-Connect' and more sophisticated 'i-Connect plus', which offers widescreen navigation from TomTom. Bottom of Form

Beneath this monitor is a row of freely configurable touch-sensitive controls, called 'i-Toggles'. Each one offers a shortcut to a major function, such as radio, climate control or 'phone.

Market and Model

To reflect all the fresh technology, prices have risen a little. Expect a starting point for this SW model of around £25,000, with the brand's usual 'Active Premium', 'Allure', 'Allure Premium', 'GT' and 'GT Premium' trim levels. For the asking figures, you get plenty of extra safety tech, including a long-range blind-spot-monitoring function, rear cross traffic alert and a reversing camera with a 180-degree field of view. There's also automatic high-beam and traffic sign recognition.

If you go for an EAT8 auto variant, you can have Adaptive cruise control with a full stop-and-go function. Manual versions can also modulate distance to the car ahead, but not below speeds of 19mph. Across the range, a 360-degree top-down style surround view camera is also offered. If you want to add luxury touches, your dealer will offer you nappa leather upholstery and powered, massaging seats. From 'GT' trim upwards, there's also a clever cabin air filtration system designed to keep polluting gasses and particles out, with the cabin air quality level displayed on the centre-dash screen.

Cost of Ownership

The PureTech and BlueHDi diesel petrol engines deliver very similar WLTP efficiency figures to those of the same units in the previous generation version of this car. Think around 55mpg on the combined cycle and about 130g/km of CO2 for the PureTech 110 engine (fractionally better than the 130hp unit); and about 65mpg and around 120g/km of CO2 for the BlueHDi 130 diesel. This latest car's platform (an evolved version of the PSA Group's EMP2 platform) can support a full-electric variant, but the Group already has the Citroen e-C4 in this segment, so this 308 goes PHEV with two Plug-in Hybrid variants, the Hybrid 180 and the Hybrid 225. As we mentioned in our 'Driving Experience' section, up to 37 miles of battery running is claimed in each case, while CO2 is rated at around 25g/km.

From a household plug, both PHEV variants will be replenished in just over seven hours. You'll find 3.7kW single-phase charging supported as standard, which means recharges will take three hours and 50 minutes. A 7.4kW on-board charger is available as an option and plugged into a wallbox, the battery will take one hour and 50 minutes to be topped up. The plug-in hybrid 308 variants offer a thermal pre-conditioning function too. Via the MyPeugeot smartphone app or by using the vehicle's touchscreen, owners can schedule a wake-up time for the battery. This means that the cells can be at the optimal temperature for efficiency from the time you start up, plus of course the interior can also be pre-cooled or pre-heated too.

Summary

The Peugeot 308 SW is that rarest of things; a compact estate with genuine style. All too often cars in this class are horribly compromised, offer little in the way of genuine practicality over their hatchback siblings and look gawky and ill-proportioned. The 308 SW is sleek and stylish and in this third generation guise, there's a reassuring aura of quality both inside and out.

The asking prices are a little higher than we'd like, but aside from that, there aren't too many caveats, apart from the fact that luggage space has fallen, a victim of those more swept-back looks. This estate is still quite a spacious thing though. And residual values look to be firming up nicely for this latest generation 308 too. Peugeot looks to be well and truly back at the top table.

RAC Breakdown Cover

Join the RAC and get breakdown cover, we fix 4 out of 5 vehicles at the roadside!

*Ends 05/08/21, 7am ^Vs AA and Green Flag.