Peugeot used to rule the world with estates like the legendary 504 that were famed for their legendary toughness, great drive and unburstable engines. Fast forward to 2014 and Peugeot has a new one based on the 308. Called the 308 SW, we’ve already driven the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol 308 SW and come away impressed, declaring it an interesting alternative to a Skoda Octavia.
But what happens when we sample the range-topping diesel in the most expensive Feline trim? Read on for our latest Peugeot 308 SW review.
Peugeot 308 SW 2.0 BlueHDI Feline: does it win the space race?
It certainly doesn’t disgrace itself. Peugeot has done a thorough job of transforming the 308 hatch into a family-friendly estate. Engineers went as far as stretching the 308 hatch’s wheelbase by over 110mm to make more space for those in the second row. At 332mm longer overall than the hatch, the SW also offers a huge boot seats up, with 660 litres on offer – that’s over 8% more space than you’ll get in a Skoda Octavia Estate.
Doesn’t sound like much until you’re packing the car for a family holiday. Lowering those rear seats to make even more room couldn’t be easier. Pull two levers and the rear cushions automatically sink into the floor to form a flat load space. Easy.
How does the 2.0-litre turbo diesel stand up against its rivals?
Very well. The 148bhp 2.0-litre HDI is smooth and refined and can average 70.1mpg and emit just 105g/km of CO2 – that’s better than any Golf or Skoda can manage with the same power.
There is a catch though. The 308 SW is significantly slower than rivals like the Octavia, 0-62mph taking 10.1sec, compared to the Octavia’s brisker 8.6sec. Producing 277lb ft at a relatively lofty (for a diesel) 2000rpm also means occasionally you’ll need a quick gearchange for meaningful acceleration.
But it can’t match the VW Golf Estate for its interior, right?
Correct, but the Peugeot 308 gives it a good run for its money, especially in the plush Allure model. Remember quality was ramped up for the hatch and the Peugeot now is more than a match for many of its rivals, Golf excepted. Climb into the top-of-the-range Allure and you’ll be greeted by a light and airy cabin thanks to its standard panoramic roof. It’s pretty classy in here and there’s barely any buttons to clutter the cabin.
Instead, it’s all incorporated into the 9.7-inch touchscreen that also operates the in-car entertainment. Neat. Until you have to change any settings on the move, that is. It desperately needs some shortcuts for the climate control, for example, but adding buttons would undo all that good work.
What’s the Peugeot 308 SW like to drive?
Peugeot claim the estate is 140kg lighter than the old 308 SW. Most of the savings come from the new lighter platform, but engineers did also create a plastic bootlid to keep weight down and this attention to detail should play dividends with the way the 308 SW drives. Behind the odd, small oval-shapped steering wheel the Peugeot does impress, especially at motorway speeds where the Peugeot is a quiet and relaxing place to spend time.
Nor is it a disaster when you hit the B-roads, feeling agile and resisting roll well. What does let the side down is the 308 SW's steering. It lacks the precision of its rivals. Push harder and the 308 estate feels like it pushes into understeer earlier than a Focus or Golf would, although lifting off tucks the nose back into the bend. Finally, we’d like to try a car riding on the slightly smaller 17-inch wheels – the 18-in rims make for a busy ride over poor surfaces.
Anything else we need to know about the new 308 SW?
Costing well over £24k, the Allure comes with 18-inch alloys, panoramic glass roof, tinted rear windows, alcantara seats, keyless go, cruise control, collision alert system.... You get the idea. That’s a lot of kit, but we’d happily sacrifice it for the better value the lower trims offer.
Peugeot has created a great all-rounder with the 308 SW, but one that also hasn’t excelled in any one area apart from the cavernous boot. That alone will put it near the top of the pile for many family buyers. Consider a 308 SW also for its refined and smooth diesel and some of the lowest running cost of any small family car, but for those who still like to drive – you’ll be better off with a Golf.