Peugeot 308 SW estate (2008 – ) expert review

By Andy Goodwin, 22nd November 2010

The verdict

The Peugeot 308 SW is unique in its class, thanks to the option of two seats in the boot, making it a seven-seater. Without them it has a huge boot.

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Expert rating:

3.5

Pros

  • Only seven-seat car in its class
  • Excellent practicality
  • Efficient diesel engines

Cons

  • Tiny boot with all seven seats in place
  • Firm ride with bigger alloy wheels
  • Interior is showing its age

Full Review

1. Exterior

Sharing its huge grille with the Peugeot 308 hatchback, the most distinctive feature of the SW is its elongated roof and rear window pillars which slope the opposite way to normal, allowing for a wrap-around rear window. The windscreen is panoramic, stretching further back over the car than normal, and the rear window can open independently of the boot, allowing small items to be dropped in quickly.

Our rating: 3

2. Interior

The middle bench consists of three individual seats of the same size (Sport and SE trim), which can all be removed if required. An optional set of two occasional seats can be fitted in the boot, which can be folded flat when not in use. The dashboard features unusual white dials (in Sport trim) and silver trim on the central console and doors, but it’s starting to feel its age and can’t match the overall feel of quality found in the Volkswagen Golf Estate.

Our rating: 3

3. Practicality

The 308 SW is unique in its class, as it’s the only model offering seven seats. This makes it an interesting alternative to larger estates and MPVs, particularly if all the seats will only be used from time to time. The biggest downside is the lack of boot space with all seven seats in place, making a roof box or small trailer essential for storing luggage. Without seats in the boot, there’s a huge 674 litres of luggage room below the parcel shelf. Remove all the rear seats and a massive 2,149 litres is available, giving the SW one of the biggest load areas of any family car on sale.

Our rating: 5

4. Ride and handling

With light steering and controls, the 308 SW is easy to drive, if not too entertaining. It feels much the same as the hatchback, with reassuring levels of grip and composure. While most versions also ride comfortably, our Sport trim test car was fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels, which crash over bumps and through potholes.

Our rating: 2

5. Performance

The 308 SW is available with a very wide range of engines, starting with a 1.4-litre petrol with 95bhp. There are also 1.6-litre petrol motors with 120, 140, 150 and 175bhp, available with either a five-speed manual, six-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox depending on power output. Most popular are the diesel engines, with 90 or 110bhp from a 1.6-litre and 136bhp from a 2-litre HDi  motor. We tested the 110bhp 1.6-litre HDi, which is impressive thanks to its low-down pulling power and lack of clatter.

Our rating: 4

6. Running costs

The 1.6 diesel is best with emissions of 125g/km to 139g/km depending on power, and the ability to average 58 to 60mpg. All HDi engines can interestingly run on a mixture including 30 per cent Biodiesel, without any modifications.

Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

While Peugeot is striving to improve reliability, there have been eight recalls since its launch, affecting some build dates of 308 models, suggesting there are still some issues with quality.

Our rating: 2

8. Safety

The Peugeot 308 hatchback on which the SW is based scored the maximum five-stars in EuroNCAP crash testing, proving it’s a very safe vehicle. Six airbags, anti-lock brakes and brake force distribution are standard. There’s even a wireless connection for the middle row of seat belt indicators, so they still work even though they can be removed from the vehicle. Sport models also get a knee airbag, electronic stability programme and traction control.

Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

Even the entry-level S model gets lots of equipment, including a luggage net, trip computer, remote central locking, electric front windows, radio/CD player with six speakers and remote control, fog lights and air-con. Sport models add 17-inch alloy wheels, white, dials, sports front grille, opening tailgate glass, modular middle-row seats, panoramic glass roof, front armrest, leather trim, rear electric windows and cruise control. SE cars get 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air-con, third-row seats, auto headlights and wipers, folding door mirrors, upgraded front seats, fragrance diffuser, ambient lighting, tinted windows and tyre pressure sensors.

Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

While some hatchback-derived estates simply offer a bigger boot, the SW carves its own niche and offers a convincing alternative to a bigger traditional estate car or even an MPV.

Our rating: 4

Expert review 3.5stars

  • Exterior3
  • Interior3
  • Practicality5
  • Ride and handling2
  • Performance4
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability2
  • Safety4
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?4

Our recommendations

Best on a budget

308 SW 1.4 VTi 95 S

A sweet petrol engine and good standard equipment

Best-seller

308 SW 1.6 HDi 110 Sport

Best all-round engine, modular seats but firm ride

Blow the budget

308 SW 2.0 HDi 136 SE

Powerful diesel, all the toys and six-speed automatic gearbox

A massive 2,149 litres is available, giving the SW one of the biggest load areas of any family car on sale