The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.8
There are plenty of good choices in this class, but the spacious and well equipped 308 SW is one of the best small estate cars you can buy.
Reasons to buy
- Good boot space that’s easy to load and unload
- Excellent three-cylinder petrol engine
- Impressive blend of ride and handling
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
Peugeot is on a mission to take its models upmarket, and in the 308 SW’s case, that means it has a very simple, uncluttered shape, with a chrome-trimmed grille. Admittedly, that does mean the car isn’t terribly daring or distinctive, but at least every model has LED daytime running lights and body-coloured door mirrors. Only the most basic Access-trimmed model misses out on alloy wheels, but you need at least Allure trim to get full LED headlamps.
What's the interior like?
As with the exterior, so with the interior, Peugeot is trying to move its cars upmarket; and in the 308, the company has been very successful. The quality of materials is very good, and the company’s i-cockpit design gives the cabin a very clean look. Most functions are controlled through the touch-screen system that is standard on every model except the most basic Access. The navigation through the varous screens is not always the easiest to understand, but perhaps more of an issue for some people will be the dashboard design: the steering wheel is small and you look over it to see the dials – which takes some getting used to.
How practical is it?
In terms of space and versatility, the 308 SW is up with the very best in its class. There’s plenty of space for passengers in the front seats, and the boot capacity of 660 litres (which expands to 1,775 with the rear seats folded down) puts it ahead of its most obvious rivals. Best of all, it could hardly be easier to swap between the two configurations: the rear seats drop down with the use of just one lever to leave a perfectly flat floor, and they’re easy to raise back to the upright position again. It’s also neat that the luggage cover can be stowed under the floor when not needed, and that the boot sill is nice and low, making it easy to load and unload. If there is a complaint, it’s that space in the rear seats is a little tight if there’s a pair of six-footers in the front seats. However, as long the front seats aren’t pushed the whole way back, there’s enough room for a couple of adults in the back
What's it like to drive?
The 308 hatchback drives well, and if anything, the SW is even better, as the longer wheelbase of the SW gives it a little more composure. It provides a comfortable ride at pretty much any speed, and it’s only on the worst lumps and bumps that the suspension struggles to cope. The car handles capably as well, with crisp body control and plenty of grip, but it’s not the most engaging car of its type to drive. Much of that is due to the steering. It’s very responsive around the straight-ahead, and the small steering wheel gives the rack the impression of being quite quick. However, it’s actually pretty slow, taking three full turns to get from lock to lock, and it makes for a strange mix of characteristics.
How powerful is it?
We’ve only had limited experience of the 308 SW range so far, but it’s been enough for us to know that one of the car’s most impressive features is the three-cylinder Puretech petrol engine. The 1.2-litre units may sound too small to power a car as big as this, but the 128bhp version is very refined and gives more than acceptable performance - although you do need to work it quite hard to get the very best from it. That said, the diesel engines are also very impressive, with the 118bhp 1.6 BlueHDi good enough to make you question the need for anything more powerful or expensive – especially when it has such brilliant efficiency figures. It gives plenty of performance for everyday use, and refinement is excellent. Granted, the 2.0-litre diesels, giving 148bhp and 178bhp, are both a good bit brawnier, but they're also a good bit more expensive.
How much will it cost me?
The SW costs a few hundred quid more than the equivalent hatchback, but its prices still compare very favourably with its rivals’. Every version averages more than 50mpg, but the star of the show is the 1.6 BlueHDI engine that averages more than 85mpg and emits just 85g/km of CO2. These are figures that match the very best in the class. Similarly, the three-cylinder 1.2-litre Puretech petrol engines are very fuel-efficient, with the 108bhp version averaging the best part of 60mpg. If you do fancy a 308 SW, it's worth considering Peugeot’s Just Add Fuel lease plan, as it combines every cost, including insurance, into one monthly payment.
How reliable is it?
According to figures from Warranty Direct, Peugeot couldn’t be any more average when it comes to reliability. What’s more, the previous version of the 308 was one of the company’s better cars and most – although, admittedly, not all – of the owner reviews on our site are very complimentary. The car comes with a three-year warranty, which is reasonable, but not a patch on what comes with Korean rivals such as the Hyundai i30 or Kia Cee’d.
How safe is it?
Although the SW itself hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, the hatchback (on which the SW is based) scored a maximum five stars. Every model in the line-up has the full range of airbags – twin front, side and curtain airbags – but you can only get the Driver Assistance Pack (which includes an Emergency Collision Alert System and the Emergency Collision Braking System) on the upper trim levels.
How much equipment do I get?
For its price, the 308 SW has very decent equipment. Every model has Bluetooth, DAB radio, air-con and cruise control, and all but the base Access also have alloys, a colour touch-screen, sat-nav and an electric handbrake. That all comes with our favourite Active trim, but if you go one step higher up the ladder to Allure, you also get front foglights, full LED headlights, a reversing camera and electric folding door mirrors. At the top of the range, Allure+ has a panoramic glass roof, half-Alcantara sports seats, keyless entry and dynamic cruise control.
Anyone looking for a practical and well-equipped estate that’s also good to drive will be attracted to the 308 SW.