► Peugeot E-308 SW electric estate
► Driven in top-spec GT trim, 154bhp
► Polished and poised, but dubious value
Peugeot has ambitions to be the leading electric vehicle manufacturer by 2025 – and that does, indeed, seem ambitious to us. But one of the ways it might pull it off is by plugging into niches that other EV makers aren’t yet investigating. Take this E-308 SW, which becomes only the second mainstream electric estate car on the market.
Compared with the MG 5 EV, which has had this audience entirely to itself for years now, the Peugeot E-308 SW is going to be almost eye-wateringly expensive. But the Peugeot also drives very nicely, feels well put together and offers plenty of style.
Pros: comfortable and composed, high-quality feel, well-equipped
Cons: lacklustre performance, unignorably expensive
Compared with the regular E-308, the SW estate grows 270mm in length to 4635mm. But rather than simply add this all onto the rear overhang, Peugeot has also extended the wheelbase by 55mm. The result is a seats-up 548 litres of boot space, rising to 1574 litres with the rear seats folded. That’s a useful increase over the 361-1367 litres available from the electric hatch.
As with all modern mid-sized estate cars, the slanting roof angle impinges on the ultimate practicality, but the E-308 SW compares well enough to the 479-1367 litres offered by the MG 5. It’s also just as roomy back there as the E-308 SW plug-in hybrid.
What are the specs?
The E-308 SW gets the newest Stellantis EV powertrain, also available in a host of other models across the Stellantis brand portfolio. This means a slightly underwhelming 154bhp combined with 199lb ft, delivering 0-62mph in 9.9sec and a maximum speed of 106mph.
You only get that full whack in Sport mode, too. As per Stellantis habit, Normal is knocked back to 134bhp / 184lb ft while Eco is further restricted to 107bhp / 162lb ft. On the plus side, this degree of restriction means Peugeot can quote an impressively degree of efficiency on paper – the E-308’s 54kWh battery pack theoretically offering up to 267 miles of driving range per charge.
This latest system comes with an 11kW on-board AC charger and 100kW DC fast charging. According to Peugeot, the latter means you can go from 20 per cent to 80 per cent battery in less than 25 minutes using a suitably rapid public charger.
How does it drive?
Actually rather beautifully. The steering is oddly heavy, which is a little unexpected given the tiny wheel that’s part and parcel of Peugeot’s notorious i-Cockpit interior design. But it’s also more consistently weighted than the e-208 and hooked up to a more assertively determined front-end. There is a lot of grip here, and the E-308 SW is keen to put it to good use, allowing you to be more aggressive on turn-in than a family estate would naturally warrant.
Peugeot has also neatly navigated the dividing line between tight body control and comfort. The car leans, but not much – yet it also does a great job of absorbing bumps decisively but without becoming discomposed. It’s all rather fluid and enjoyable, and of a class well beyond the MG 5.
That said, 152bhp is far from being enough to make 1.7 tonnes of EV feel swift. The torque makes light work of hills, but overtaking needs a greater amount of room than you might anticipate from a modern electric car, and there’s a lethargy to the accelerator pedal that may also come as a surprise.
This is more noticeable in Normal mode but still distinctly present in Sport, as if consciously mimicking the kick-down pause you’d get from a conventional automatic. Hardly a dealbreaker, and if it robs a bit of that EV magic just think of the reduction in early tyre wear.
Refinement is excellent, with little wind or road noise – though you will still hear the tyres chirrup as the chassis allows you to take them right to the edge of their lateral stiction. Possibly worth noting that at this point we’ve only driven the E-308 SW in the dry.
What about the interior?
This look very sleek and has some neat features – particularly the customisable ‘i-Toggle’ switches beneath the 10.0-inch infotainment screen, a display panel that allows you to select your own preferred set of pictogram controls. But as ever, not everyone will get on with the i-Cockpit layout, with its low steering wheel and high-set dials.
The ‘3D digital instrument cluster’ has a secondary layer above the main screen that gives a kind of holographic effect, which is at least different to what a lot of other brands are doing. But at this point we can’t help thinking that a decent head-up display would serve the driver better, and stop us being forced to drive with the steering wheel in our laps.
Material quality is good, and fit and finish is less patchy here than in the E-208. But the oddly pointed dashboard element above the glovebox robs the passenger of knee room and makes it difficult to see inside the compartment. Double fail. The rear door aperture isn’t any bigger here than on the hatchback, which means it’s awkwardly tight, and though there’s a reasonable amount of legroom taller passengers will find their view out restricted by the way the rails of the roof curved over at the sides.
Before you buy
The E-308 SW comes in two standard specifications, Allure and GT, with the latter likely to be the bigger seller. There’s also a limited First Edition for the particularly keen.
All come well equipped and riding on 18-inch alloy wheels. Highlights for the Allure model include heated front seats and steering wheel, reversing camera, sat-nav, adaptive cruise, and voice control. Chrome accents on outside give the entry-level model away visually.
The GT adds a specific front grille, matrix LED headlights, sportier side sills and a Peugeot shield on the front wings. You also get Alcantara seats, the dubious pleasure of ‘adamite’ coloured stitching (a kind of lime green), aluminium trimming, eight-colour ambient lighting and the 3D digital instrument cluster.
First Edition upgrades are limited to a wackier interior upholstery finish and headrests embossed with the Peugeot logo. This only comes in three exterior paint colours: Okenite White, Olivine Green and Selenium Grey.
Compared with the MG 5, it’s a far classier package, and much nicer to drive. But it is also way more expensive – a starting price of over £40,000 putting prospective E-308 SW buyers into an interesting position. That’s more money than an entry-level Tesla Model 3… The Model 3 isn’t an estate car, but does offer a hell of a lot more performance and driving range.
And while the E-308 probably has the best electric estate all wrapped up right now – unless you can afford a Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo anyway, and even then you’ll be putting up with a smaller boot – it’s shortly going to be challenged by the Vauxhall Astra ST Electric. Not that this will massive increase the choice available to buyers, since it’s based on the same engineering as the Peugeot underneath.
The Peugeot E-308 is very likeable, looking good and driving perhaps even unnecessarily well. But the actual electric vehicle component feels fairly far from the cutting edge for the money it costs. This places the car and its buyers into an interesting predicament.
If you want to go electric and your priority is lugging loads above all other considerations, it’s surely impossible to ignore how much cheaper the MG 5 is. The E-308 is unquestionably a better car, but whether it’s that much better in those circumstances only you can really determine. Meanwhile, the same budget places all sort of other electric machinery in reach that offers greater performance, if going zero emissions is your major concern.