What is it?
This is the estate version of Peugeot’s facelifted-for-2011 308 hatchback. The French firm knows the UK’s appetite for small estates isn’t particularly voracious, but nevertheless the 308 SW benefits from styling updates, revised trim levels, some clever rear-seat packaging and, would you believe it, price reductions.
However, the revisions of most note have centred on improvements in CO2 emissions and fuel economy. Peugeot is rightly satisfied with the environmentally pleasing results obtained by its new e-HDi “micro hybrid” engines. These use an intelligent alternator/starter motor set-up that both captures regenerative braking energy and acts as a stop-start system, mated to a Euro 5-optimised 110bp, 1.6-litre diesel engine. The net results are headline figures of 62.7mpg on the combined cycle and 120g/km of C02 for the estate tested here, as fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox as opposed to the optional robotised manual offering.
What’s it like?
In its latest guise Peugeot’s 1.6-litre diesel is an impressively smooth and refined engine, with useful torque around town and an eager enough delivery on the open road. Inevitably a degree of engine noise can be heard in the cabin, but it never intrudes. The stop-start works well, too; it’s not exactly undetectable in operation but is by far the least intrusive diesel stop-start system we’ve tried.
What the 308 SW isn’t, however, is a particularly engaging drive, although given that the 308 never really was we’re not too disappointed by that. It rides nicely enough and road noise isn’t an issue, but the suspension is on the soft side and the steering lacks feel. That, of course, won’t be an issue to many. Instead, the roomy interior, full-length panoramic roof (standard on Active and Allure models) and flexible load space with individually folding rear seats may well swing the deal over any dynamic deficit. There’s also a £525 option in the shape of a pair of individually removable third-row seats, turning the 308 SW into an occasional seven-seater if the need arises.
Should I buy one?
Quite possibly, yes. Estate-bodied variants of a C-segment hatches tend to get a bit lost among the hordes of headline-grabbing mini-MPVs and the like, but in truth there’s no reason to rule it out. It may not be the first choice for the driving enthusiast, but the 308 SW is a refined, economical and pleasant enough small estate that’s also practical and, with those optional third-row seats added, exceptionally versatile.