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Driven: Peugeot 308 SW 1.2. Image by Peugeot.

Driven: Peugeot 308 SW 1.2
The estate version of the Peugeot 308 is every bit as good as the hatch, and even better with the new 1.2-litre engine.


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Peugeot 308 SW 1.2 THP

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: great looks, a tidy cabin, loads of space in the back, class-leading cargo capacity and a joyous three-cylinder engine

Not so good: in £20,000 territory in middling Active trim, still needs function shortcut buttons on the dashboard

Key Facts

Model tested: Peugeot 308 SW Active 1.2 e-THP 130
Pricing: £19,595 standard; £20,900 as tested
Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door estate
Rivals: SEAT Leon ST, Skoda Octavia Estate, Volkswagen Golf Estate
CO2 emissions: 109g/km
Combined economy: 60.1mpg
Top speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 12.1 seconds
Power: 130hp at 5,550rpm
Torque: 230Nm at 1,750rpm

Our view:

We've driven the current reigning European Car of the Year a number of times now, and each and every time we've found the Peugeot 308 extremely capable. It's certainly among the class leaders in the C-segment, while the SW estate - and the attendant new EU6 engines, including the high-output iteration of the 1.2 three-cylinder e-THP petrol unit - probably is the class leader, given it has a massive 660-litre boot and extra rear legroom.

Our vehicle was fitted with the aforementioned 130hp 1.2, although a 110hp version is also available, as are a couple of deeply impressive new diesels. Still, the allure of Peugeot's three-cylinder was too much to resist. What an engine. It seems like every time you drive a new three-cylinder motor, it's even more splendid than the last one sampled. Ford's EcoBoost, once a benchmark in this particular blown triple arena, has already been surpassed by Vauxhall's EcoTec 1.0 and Audi's 1.0 TFSI engines, while the 1.5-litre unit in the MINI Cooper isn't too shabby either. But this Peugeot lump is the best of the lot. Smooth, torquey, blessed with lovely throttle response and a pleasant engine note that's entertaining enough to encourage a spot of fun, but admirably hushed when cruising, there's little to fault with it. Registering just 26hp and 10Nm less than the superseded 1.6-litre THP, it's a perfect advert for the benefits of downsizing - especially as, on a motorway run that wasn't conducive to economy, it still averaged 49.5mpg over 198 miles. In total, we did 343 miles at 46.2mpg, which is a way short of the 60.1mpg official figure, but still admirable for a small capacity, relatively high power petrol engine hauling an estate body around.

The SW is definitely the 308 to have, as Paul stated in the First Drive, thanks to the 29mm of extra rear legroom over the hatch (the SW has a 110mm longer wheelbase too), but principally because - if you need a cavernous boot but a smallish footprint, presumably the primary reason you're looking at a compact load-lugger in the first place - then there is no larger C-segment estate than this; and that includes the Skoda Octavia wagon. The 308 SW holds 660 litres with the seats up and 1,775 with them folded down, so there's enough space back there to accommodate La Grande Armée. It's also easy to access and a useful shape, neither characteristic necessarily a given just because a boot is large, so Peugeot deserves more credit for that.

The rest of the 308 experience is as good as ever, with our Active model (that's one trim level above the Access entry point) riding on 16-inch alloys and therefore not displaying the unsettled ride found on a higher-spec Allure with optional 18-inch rims. This smaller-wheeled car rode bumps well, with cushioned damping and a generally high level of refinement. Tyre and wind noise weren't noticeable, while the major controls are all seven or eight out of ten, with just enough sparkle about them to bode well for the forthcoming GT model (which you can have as an SW), yet nothing stands out as absolutely marvellous.

A glance at the 0-62mph time might speak of a turgidly slow car, but the 1.2 130 always feels perky, while the styling inside and out is lovely, the exterior a particularly well-judged way of grafting 220mm of extra metal onto the back of a taut hatchback shape; it's another one of those wagons that visually eclipses the car it is based on. The price is possibly one sticking point, as at over £20,000 as tested (for a fairly low-ranking model) the SW doesn't seem as conspicuously good value as the hatch. But as the Active comes with cruise control, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, among other toys, as standard, and it undercuts a comparable Golf Estate, that's not a huge black mark against the 308 SW.

Our bigger bugbear is with that i-Cockpit interior. We love the heads-up instrument cluster with its reverse-sweep rev counter, we love the tiny, button steering wheel and we love that central 9.7-inch display... but putting absolutely every control into the touchscreen means things like adjusting the heating become counter-intuitive; changing the temperature requires the unfamiliar driver to take their eyes off the road for a number of 'soft button' inputs. With just five switches on the central console - door locks, heated rear screen, front screen demist, recirculated air and hazard warning lights - we feel just one or two key shortcut buttons would help without over-cluttering Peugeot's clean dash.

Other than that, though, it's a comprehensive performance from the 1.2 SW. There's nothing in the class that's a better all-rounder, and only one or two models that can do a few things any better. With a giant boot, handsome looks, reasonable equipment and a fabulous three-cylinder engine, the 308 SW is currently our pick in the C-segment estate market.


SEAT Leon ST: cracking looks and range of good engines; sharp to drive but not as comfortable as the 308 in certain specifications. Four-cylinder 1.2 TSI engine likely to be replaced by 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo soon.

Skoda Octavia Estate: it's 74mm longer than the Peugeot, but has a 44mm shorter wheelbase and a smaller boot seats up or down than the 308 SW. Excellent Skoda dealers could be a clincher for some buyers, however.

Volkswagen Golf Estate: more expensive and not that much classier than the 308 SW. No charismatic three-pot petrol... yet. We prefer the Peugeot.

Matt Robinson - 6 Jan 2015    - Peugeot road tests
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2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.

2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.

2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.

2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.

2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.

2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.

2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.

2014 Peugeot 308 SW. Image by Peugeot.


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