One observation stands clearer than any other: Peugeot’s 308 is unquestionably more refined, better finished and dynamically tauter than the 307, or any other Peugeot family hatchback, before it.

And yet the fact that the 308 so readily reminds us of an overhauled version of its predecessor is, ultimately, a disappointment. Bettering the old car is simply not enough when faced with such accomplished rivals.

Not a bad car, but not exceptional either – which makes it an also-ran in this class

While the 308’s weaknesses are individually not enough to warrant damning criticism - the performance lacks a little enthusiasm, the ride is occasionally troubled and the handling lacklustre - most of its competitors just do it all better.

To its credit, the 308 is spacious, well equipped, well priced and has a quality feel, but these positives can’t cancel out the negatives. There are plenty of other hatches we’d rather buy.

It’s luck then that the SW estate version is a saving grace for the 308. 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.