Peugeot 308 SW review: Space and practicality in speedster package

The Peugeot 308 SW is good-looking, immensely practical, and really good to drive; the added rear third of the car actually enhances the prettiness of the original hatch
Peugeot 308 SW review: Space and practicality in speedster package

Peugeot 308 SW





from €35,705 - €49,245 as tested


a very good 1.6 petrol bolstered by an 

electric motor to give you a very decent 180bhp

The Spec

little to be desired in the GT spec we tested


not quite top of the class, but very close to it

The estate car is dead. Or if it isn’t, it is definitely on life support.

The all-conquering, if insidious, SUV has killed the family focussed estate to the point where the entity is a very endangered species.

Sure, some of the premium brands still make them but they too are becoming rare. Skoda has kept the faith with excellent machines such as the Fabia, Octavia and Superb Combi variants; Ford still makes the Focus – but not for much longer – in an estate; the Kia Ceed Sportwagon keeps the flame alive in Korea; and, Toyota still sells a Corolla estate, while Suzuki’s Swace is simply a rebadged hand-me-down.

Some time back, I recall a VW spokesman – at the introduction of the new Golf – announcing that while the company still made a Golf estate, it would not be bringing it to Ireland because “nobody here buys them anymore.” 

The same company also made the Passat estate alongside the Passat saloon and CC versions, but that too is soon to be history, although VW has announced there will be a new Passat – to be launched in September this year – but it will only come in Estate form and there’s no guarantee that a model formerly highly popular here will actually make it to Irish shores.

So what else is there, then? Well, right now there’s the Peugeot 308 SW – which we are reviewing this week – and there’s also the very special 508 SW Peugeot Sport Engineered, but that might not be with us for much longer.

So, you see, this is becoming quite a limited field and, seemingly, getting thinner by the minute. But these guys have form in the ‘SW’ department – which is better known in these isles as an estate.

There have been many legendary Peugeot estates down the years – such as the 404 Break of the 60s, the fantastic 505 estates of the late 70s and 80s and even the still-good-looking 307 SW of the noughties.

 Peugeot 308 SW stylish interior
Peugeot 308 SW stylish interior

This one carries on the company’s legacy with some aplomb. It’s good-looking, immensely practical and really good to drive too. Unlike many traditional estates, however, the Peugeot eschews the lumpy appearance traditionally seen in the genre and has more of a low-slung speedster look than most, while still offering the space and practicality you expect.

In its’ ‘avatar blue’ overcoat it is very eye-catching and that undoubtedly helps the transition from hatch to estate. Undoubtedly the hatch itself is a very attractive car, but sometimes when manufacturers stretch something like that into an estate, the results can be patchy.

Not so in this case, as the added rear third of the car actually enhances the prettiness of the original and while the area around the tailgate does look a little over-fussed, it does not detract from what is, overall, a very pretty car.

Indeed, it would be fair to say that many of Peugeot’s recent efforts have moved the brand ever upmarket and the level of polish seen in their products have certainly moved the brand away from the workaday models it was once renowned for.

All the surfaces you will interact with on a day-to-day basis look and feel premium, although you don’t have too look too far to find scratchy plastics, particularly around the centre tunnel and the door pockets. The i-Cockpit will not suit everyone either and if you’re too tall or too small you may find it hard to get the perfect seat/steering column adjustment.

But the infotainment system – based on a central 10” touchscreen – features clear, crisp graphics and has plenty of customisable functions and other features. The voice recognition system is also very user-friendly, but if you’re not mad about it you can have the option of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if you wish.

There are also two USB ports front and rear, so as many as four phones can be charged at once and, in the GT spec we tried, which is top of the pile in the model line-up, you get a 3D digital instrument screen, a ‘clean cabin’ filter for the air conditioning, a Sport pack which incudes sharper steering and throttle response, a sporty leather steering wheel and contrast stitching on the alcantara upholstery.

You also get 18” diamond cut alloys, a sporty body kit which enhances the already bonny looks, Matric LED headlights and rear lights which offer a welcoming ‘hi there’ sequence from the LED brake lights when you unlock the car.

For those in the rear seats, the extra length to the wheelbase provides added legroom and therefore more comfort. The added glass back there too gives the driver a much airier demeanour to proceedings and better rear visibility than in the hatch.

Peugeot 308 SW
Peugeot 308 SW

As you might expect, the boot is huge and – at 608 litres with the rear seats in place – is even bigger than the 3008 SUV. With the 70:30 split rear seats down (and they do lie almost flat) that space increases to 1,634 litres, so you could nearly host a small club gig back there.

There are two PHEV options, one with 180 bhp and one with 225 bhp. It was the lesser of these two we tried and it offers nearly 65 km of all-electric motoring which just about fits the Examiner Motoring category of ‘useful.’ 

The system pairs a 1.6 litre petrol engine with an electric motor to give you that 180 bhp output; the 0-100 km/h time of 7.7 seconds and top speed is 225 km/h, so the car is not slouch. The engine is also mated to the excellent eight speed auto gearbox which is intuitive and very easy to live with.

On the road the car is not quite as sharp as the Ford Focus we tried last week, but that’s hardly a shock, given the Ford’s prowess in that department. That said, it is not at all bad and, honestly, not that far behind the Focus either.

The small steering wheel makes cornering inputs feel more responsive and, in general, the handling is excellent and it is very easy to find a comfortable rhythm on a twisty country road without having to dole out the sick bags to you passengers. The ride is a little stiff around lumpy urban roads, but out on the open road, the car swallows up rough surfaces with comparative ease.

This is a very sweet chassis and should cater to the needs of the more demanding driver with some ease and the strength of the engine will not displease either. Similarly, if you will rarely match the claimed 1.2 l/100 km consumption rate (233.3 mpg), the real figure of around 4.9 l/100 km (57.1 mpg) will keep most people happy.

All told then, this was a slick and pleasurable car to drive and when you throw in all the added practicality – not to mention comfort – on offer it makes for a pretty compelling beast. Not quite among the best in class, but right up there.

Indeed, time might just show this car to be one of the saviours of the whole ‘estate’ concept and that would be a very good thing indeed.

More in this section


The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up
Cookie Policy Privacy Policy Brand Safety FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Examiner Echo Group Limited