Our PHEV estate provided a welcome antidote to SUVs despite issues of its own

Why we ran it: To see if an electrified estate like the Peugeot 308 SW still has a place in a world of crossover competitors

Month 3Month 2Month 1 - Specs

Peugeot 308 est hybrid lt hello jw 202220221114 3337

Life with a Peugeot 308 SW PHEV: Month 3

Our PHEV estate provided a welcome antidote to SUVs despite issues of its own - 15 March 2023

After almost 7500 miles, our Peugeot 308 SW is on its way to its next owner and in many ways, I wish it wasn't.

The past few winter months have been dreary but I always looked forward to driving this plug-in hybrid estate. I know I've complained a lot - the electrical issues I experienced were a constant cause of frustration and then there was the electric-only range. I never really expected to get the full 37 miles out of it, but to only ever get half of that claimed figure after a full charge once in my entire time with the car was very disappointing (a reader also emailed to say they were experiencing similar problems with their DS 4 E-Tense, another new Stellanis PHEV). 

I've since been told by Peugeot that most of the problems I've noted should have been fixed in an over-the-air software update, which can be installed by a dealer for free. So, if you're thinking of buying this particular variant of the 308, you shouldn't have the same issues.

And that's good news, not least because, apart from those admittedly big problems, it was pleasant to live with and good fun to drive. It was agile in corners and good fun to drive, while remaining comfortable and high and low speeds. 

The seats were decently comfy as well, never giving me any aches or pains, despite several long-distance trips. I was drawn in by the styling too, and I think most of Stellantis' designers have done a great job on their current crop of estates.

Despite the 308 being a comfortable motorway cruiser, the PHEV powertrain had its issues. Step-off was sluggish and the eight-speed automatic's shifts weren't great at urban speeds. I also felt quite conspicuous when idling at traffic lights with no remaining battery charge just because of how loud the engine was. 

Some equipment was missing from our car too, even though it was in a near-range-topping spec. The absence of heated seats was a big loss in the winter months, and electric seats in general would have been a nice addition.


Read our review

Car review

Blends practicality and French flair in an attractive package that offers a welcome alternative in its class

Back to top

Elsewhere in the cabin, I didn't quite take to Peugeit's touchscreen infotainment. Even overlooking the fact it would default to French during set-up (which was incredibly 'ennueyeux'), it wasn't the most intuitive system I've used and getting from one part of it to another was a slow and tedious process. 

I did use the touchpads daily though, which sped up navigation slightly, and the sat-nav had a handy destination prediction feature. It's able to learn your routines, so if you get in the car at a certain time, it will automatically assume where you're going. 

This was handy for going to the gym and to work, but I'm ashamed to say I rarely used it because of the sheer convenience of Apple CarPlay. 

So, does an electrified estate have a place in a world of crossovers? If that E-range issue I encountered had been solved by a simple software update, I would say yes. A near 40-mile range would make this Pug a far more enticing proposition and would have bolstered my economy over long distances. Because I'm generally home fro Saturday to Tuesday, I would easily have enough electric-only range to last until my journey to work. 

The 308 also confirmed my view that estates continue to be every bit as practical as more popular SUVs. I found it much easier to live with, being low enough for the dog to clamber in and for me to not have to overextend myself when loading luggage or shopping. That said, a powered tailgate would have been welcome. 

This brings me to my final point: price. Our 308, with its Elixer Red paint and PHEV powertrain, costs £36,345. Meanwhile, a pure ICE model in the same Allure Premium specification costs from £30,860, a big saving and even more enticing when you learn you can achieve up to 65mpg with a 1.2-litre BlueHDI diesel, or up to 52.1mpg with a Puretech petrol. Both petrol and diesel models offer better finance rates as well, costing up to £200 less per month than the PHEV, although the 25g/km PHEV benefits from falling into the 12% benefit-in-kind tax band. 

If you're looking for a stylish and practical company car this one is well worth considering, if the sums add up for you. Just bear in mind that you do lose around 60 litres of boot space when choosing the PHEV 308. 

Back to top

What this estate has done is built my anticipation for the all-electric e-308. Yes, it will be heavier than our PHEV and more expensive, but it will also be one of the only electric estates on the market. I'm glad Stallantis is continuing to give life to one of the most useful bodystyles, particularly if it cuts down the number of SUVs on our congested roads. 

Second Opinion

As a former 205 and 206 owner, I can confirm there’s something very Peugeot about a car with undeniable flaws that can win you over through French style and pleasingly engaging driving. It will be intriguing to see if the upcoming e-308 will offer a more convincing option for those seeking a stylish electrified estate.

James Attwood 

Back to the top

Love it:

Tres a la mode This is one of the best-looking estates out there right now.  xxxx

Suited and booted There was plenty of space in the back for my family and the boot swallowed all our luggage. 

Light on fuel My average of 54.5mpg over almost 7500 miles was quite impressive, considering my long commute. 

Loathe it:

Haywire electronics Daily problems with the reversing camera, alarm and radio were a major blight on ownership. 

Not as advertised Even in warmer days, I barely managed to get half of the PHEV’s official electric-only range of 37 miles. 

Final mileage: 11,904 

Back to the top

Frustration with driving experience grows – but so does appreciation for design - 8 March

I've spent more time over the past few weeks driving the 308 SW in Sport mode, which adds a bit of punch to its acceleration. As per Peugeot’s description, it “uses all of the power of internal combustion and electric engines for maximum performance”.

Back to top

Truth be told, Sport mode doesn’t seem to make that much difference with the plug-in hybrid powertrain, the additional weight probably primarily responsible for holding our car back. An official 0-62mph time of 7.7sec isn’t bad, but I’m often left feeling that the noise emitting from the petrol engine should warrant a bit more poke.

However, the most frustrating part of the day-to-day experience is the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Changing up is generally quite smooth, but it’s slow to shift down.

This is most noticeable on the shift from eighth down to seventh, which I have to do manually with the paddle shifters to avoid a nasty growl from the straining engine.

It’s also a bit slow to change at lower speeds, too, which I’ve noticed most when driving through a traffic-filled Twickenham town centre on my journeys to work.

Img 5326 1

The engine is also really loud when you are stationary in traffic and have no remaining electric range. Perhaps with greater use of the regenerative braking, a full charge will get me over the halfway mark on my 70-mile commute.

These gripes aren’t enough to fully dampen my enthusiasm for the 308, though, as I am still completely sold on its design – particularly the sabre-tooth headlights and the stylish black front grille.

Back to top

Our car shares much of its features with the rest of the Peugeot range but nonetheless remains interesting. It never fails to turn heads, despite the increasing number of Peugeots on our roads.

Our estate variant bumps the style up to 11 with its bespoke rear-end design, and the Halong diamond-cut alloy wheels are dramatic but not too over the top.

Granted, the salt, mud and dirt under them at this time of year mean I don’t get many opportunities to properly show off the Elixir Red paintwork, but whenever I give it a clean, I’m reminded of just how good it looks.

On yet another trip down to the south coast, I was surprised to come across another new-shape 308 estate – the first that I had seen in public. It was in the same Allure Premium specification as our car but sported the basic Avatar Blue paint. I thought it looked a little too understated and would definitely consider spending the extra £695 on that eye-catching Elixir Red if it were my money.

The 308 is slightly let down by a ‘feature’ that seems to be plaguing most new cars on the road today: fake exhaust pipes. As is often the case, this attempt to conjure an impression of sporty prowess just ends up looking a bit silly on a car with less than 200bhp and a rather mid-range PHEV powertrain. If absolutely necessary, at least limit them to the range-topping GT-Line.

Love it 

Wireless Apple CarPlay 

Open the door, start the engine and you’re connected. It’s much less hassle than having to plug in your iPhone with a cable.

Battery usage

There is no combustion-only driving mode, so a full charge is spent halfway through my 70-mile commute before I really need it.

Mileage: 10,584

Back to the top

Plenty of boot space for pets - 1 March

Back to top

She might not look too pleased about it, but our dog is more than comfortable in the back of the plug-in hybrid 308 estate. The tailgate slopes narrowly, so a larger dog might be a bit cramped, but the boot is low enough to the ground for her to hop straight in without issue. It’s good for her arthritis and for my gammy knees 

Mileage: 10,001

Back to the top

Life with a Peugeot 308 SW: Month 2

Satisfied? We’re not even getting half of what was advertised - 22 February

I’m sad to report that my technical frustrations with the 308 SW persist. The alarm continues to go off randomly and the reversing camera is still raising issues.

Thankfully, though, nothing has ruined the driving experience. I’ve long been sceptical of how good a driver’s car a plug-in hybrid can be, particularly with how that added weight from batteries and electric motors affects its dynamic abilities.

With its 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, 110bhp electric motor and 12.5kWh battery, this Peugeot tips the scales at 1659kg. That’s around 300kg heavier than the lightest version, the 1.2-litre turbo petrol, so you would think the PHEV would be inferior in terms of nailing the fun factor. But not so. In fact, I really do enjoy driving it. 

If you can avoid clashing your legs on the oddly shaped steering wheel, the low driving position is ideal for a B-road blast. The powertrain provides an energised feel when you’re accelerating that nicely transitions into combustion power once you’ve picked up speed.

Despite measuring 270mm longer than its hatchback equivalent, the estate still offers sprightly handling and corners tidily.

Unlike Steve Cropley with his closely related Vauxhall Astra hatchback, however, I’m still getting nowhere near the official 37 miles of range on electric-only power.

Maybe I should be a bit more forgiving, considering the freezing weather we’ve been having recently, but ultimately to not be able to even get close to half of the officially advertised figure is unacceptable, preventing you from getting the most out of what could be a genuinely economical family car.

Back to top

Currently, a mix of electric and petrol power has garnered an average of 54.5mpg over almost 10,000 miles.

When I fully charge the battery, I get only around 14-17 miles of electric-only range. Even when I was first handed the keys to the car and it wasn’t particularly cold, the best I got out of it was 20 miles. That may be enough for getting to the gym, heading to the shops or visiting nearby family, but on any other trip I’m always required to switch to petrol midway through.

I haven’t felt compelled to raise the issue with Peugeot, because reading other reports and delving into various owners’ forums has revealed that this isn’t a problem exclusive to my car.

Some people seem to think it’s due to a software issue, which would add to the growing list of issues that I’ve faced recently. Whether that’s true or not, though, this poor electric range makes the difference between the 308 SW being a great plug-in hybrid and merely a passable one.

Love it 

Hey, good lookin'

It’s always a pleasure to look out the window and see the 308 SW’s styling look back at me. It’s a devilishly handsome car.

Fumbling around 

The gear selector is tiny and fiddly, hardly registering my selections. I had the same issue on my previous long-termer, a Vauxhall Mokka.

Mileage: 9733

Back to the top

Freezing temps add to frustrations - 15 February

The recent cold weather has impeded my evening charging schedule. In temperatures below freezing, the plug-in hybrid 308 SW’s charging flap can freeze shut, which means I’ve not been able to charge on a couple of evenings. The flap’s latch also freezes up, so I’ve had to ram it shut a few times, leading to one very cold, frustrated and sweary custodian. 

Back to top

Mileage: 9182

Back to the top

Screens make us scream, alarm causes us alarm, and lack of heating leaves us frosty - 8 February

Life with the Peugeot 308 SW has brought several positives so far. It drives nicely, it’s comfortable and it’s proving to be quite economical. All sunshine and rainbows, then? Well, it’s all well and good excelling on the dynamic side of things, but those extra little home comforts are important too, and here things aren’t quite so rosy, particularly on the technical front.

Since taking ‘ownership’ of the 308 SW, I’ve encountered random software glitches and other problems that make my life needlessly more stressful. Issues with the reversing camera have been one of the most common.

At least once per day, the image of what should be the environment behind the car returns static, like on an old television. On other occasions, it conjures a green static image reminiscent of a late-night rave. Other times, it will work as intended, then later in the day freeze on an image of the location where I set off from.

I took to social media to see if the issue was just on our early-build car, but no, some other drivers have experienced similar problems with Peugeot’s i-Cockpit system.

308 Reversing camera broken

Back to top

One claimed to have a similar issue with the sat-nav in their 508, while another said they experience the occasional blip in their 208.

When I asked Peugeot why the glitches might be happening, they said my car would need to come in for repair.

There’s also an occasional issue with the radio cutting out randomly for a microsecond every 10 seconds or so. While it’s not a huge issue and one that is resolved by swapping the media source, it’s still annoying.

Peugeot 308 mazda mx5

The biggest issue, however, has concerned the alarm. For some reason, it will go off at random whenever I’ve locked the car, which has made me quite unpopular with my neighbours.

There’s never anything left inside the car when it’s locked, so I can’t see why it should go off. The resolution I’ve come to is to switch off the interior monitoring before I get out of the car, using the button on the console above the driver’s head, but obviously this isn’t ideal for security.

The keyfob is also hit-and-miss because sometimes I press the lock button and nothing happens.

The 308’s climate control is quick to heat the cabin and de-ice the windscreen, so there’s no need for me to double up on layers of clothing. Despite this, the Allure Premium specification of our car isn’t best kitted out for winter, lacking a few key features that would make life a bit more comfortable in our present sub-zero temperatures.

Back to top

Peugeot 308 devon from distance

For one, it lacks heated seats. I’m prepared to live without them, considering the cabin warms up so quickly, but it would be handy to save a bit of fuel for my commute by not relying on the air conditioning so much.

Peugeot’s e-Remote Control phone app is a useful feature, though, allowing plug-in hybrid cars like mine to be charged and heated remotely.

More of a first-world complaint is the lack of a heated steering wheel. Supposedly, the coldest temperature ever measured on Earth was when scientists dropped magnetised gas down a tower last year and recorded -273.15deg C. Well, clearly these scientists have never held the steering wheel of a 308 at 6am on a Monday morning in January.

It’s so uncomfortably cold to hold that I often need to cover my hands with gloves or a coat sleeve for the first five minutes or so of driving. A heated steering wheel is only available as an option on range-topping GT trim, which is unfortunate.


Roomy rear

There’s plenty of space afforded to the back seats, and the USB-C ports there are useful for any passengers I’m ferrying.


Back to top

Alarm problems aside, the unrelenting double beep from locking the car soon wore thin. My neighbours dislike it too.

Mileage: 8555

Back to the top

The boot could be brighter... -1 February 

The 308 estate’s boot is spacious, but it’s a dark cavern at night. The light back there is really quite small and not all that bright, meaning I have to use the torch on my phone to improve visibility, which isn’t helpful when I’m carrying luggage or shopping. 

Mileage: 7423

Back to the top

Life with a Peugeot 308 SW: Month 1

Estate sounds perfect for a long cargo haul, but a PHEV one? - 18 January

I'm starting to get to know my Peugeot 308 SW a lot better after a few weeks of ‘ownership’, and as mentioned in my last report, the stylish wagon’s first mission was to ferry me and a boot full of stuff down to the south coast of Cornwall.

In my mind, it would be the ideal test of the plug-in hybrid estate’s long-range economy, with a mixture of electric, petrol-electric and petrol power, while simultaneously taking on Cornwall’s varied terrain.

I left Berkshire with a full tank of unleaded, prompting the digital display to show a range of 485 miles, along with 18 miles of EV range, so I opted for hybrid mode to make the most of that measly figure.

My doubts were allayed somewhat by those miles lasting all the way to Exeter (after some very conservative driving).

Peugeot 308 sunset

Back to top

When you stop and switch off the engine in the 308, you’re given a handy readout that tells you the percentage of zero-emissions driving you did on that journey, along with your MPG and miles per kWh economy figures.

I stopped just after Exeter for a quick break, which prompted a readout of 127 miles travelled, 52.2mpg, 22.1mpkWh and 20% of the journey using zero emissions.

While I wished those EV miles had lasted a bit longer, I left Exeter feeling fairly satisfied that I was saving ever so slightly on fuel costs.

That optimism was short-lived, however, as finding a suitably fast charger in Cornwall proved to be no easy task. I did eventually locate one at a chocolate factory (sadly without an Oompa-Loompa in attendance), but the supposed 11kW charging speed was really rather pitiful – nowhere near as tasty as the treats on offer.

Peguoet 308 charging

I went on to spend the rest of the holiday driving around on petrol-only power, which I imagine ends up being the case for many rural-based PHEV drivers who don’t have a charger at home. Thankfully the economy was respectable, the car consistently cracking out around 45mpg. 

Our 308 SW, however, is definitely most satisfying to drive when you can set off and cruise in EV mode.

Back to top

Cruising in eighth gear is usually fine, but should you drop to below 60mph, the 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine produces a rather unpleasant growl.

I often find myself dropping down to seventh gear using the handy paddle-shift system just to avoid the noise, but the gearbox decides to jump back up to eighth anyway after a few seconds, frustratingly.

What I can’t fault, though, is the 308 SW’s ride comfort. It’s thoroughly pleasant and handles most road surfaces with absolute ease. Exactly what was needed for a relaxing winter break.

Like it 

What weight?

The 1659kg 308 SW is a dream in the corners, seemingly not suffering from the addition of an electric motor and battery.

Loathe it

Apple's nicer

Peugeot’s touchscreen infotainment system isn’t straightforward to navigate, meaning I always opt for CarPlay 

Mileage: 6841

Back to the top

Our driver puts the estate's practicality to the test - 11 January

The first true test of the Peugeot’s practicality came with a week-long trip to Cornwall recently. The 548 litres offered by the 308 SW’s boot is more than enough for my own luggage, although I think it would be quite tight for a family of four. The privacy glass makes it nearly impossible to see inside too, which feels more secure. 

Mileage: 4957

Back to the top

Welcoming the 308 SW to the fleet - 4 January 2022

Such is the ever-growing number of SUVs on UK roads that an estate is no longer a conventional choice. But given all the inherent qualities of an estate, it's hard to see why this should be.

Back to top

Estates are sleek, spacious and hugely practical, and they usually offer vastly better driving dynamics than their crossover or SUV counterparts. 

These are just some of the reasons why I'm excited for the next few months with the Autocar fleet's latest addition, a new Peugeot 308 SW. 

Based on the third-generation 308 family hatchback, which was launched last May, the 308 SW (for station wagon) measures 4635mm long and 1475mm tall. That's 270mm longer and 10mm taller than the hatchback, but it has the same line-up of powertrain choices: petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid. 

Our car pairs a 147bhp 1.6-litre four-pot with a 108bhp electric motor and a 12.4kWh battery. Maximum power stands at 177bhp when using the engine and motor in tandem, which enables a punchy 0-62mph time of 7.7sec, and the top speed is 139mph. 

Peugeot 308 jack warrick 2

Its electric range is officially 37 miles (more on that later) while fuel consumption is rated at between 213.7mpg and 281mpg. The charging port, meanwhile, is located on just above the left rear wheel, a mirrored placement of the petrol filler.

Charging takes about three and a half hours using a 7.4kWh home wall box, or nearly double that time if you use a domestic three-pin socket. 

Back to top

So far, the 308 hasn't achieved anywhere near that official 37-mile figure when in EV mode. After a full night's charge, I'm getting only around 18 miles out of the battery, which seems rather poor.

Our car comes in Allure Premium trim, which sits just below the range-topping GT, and it's clear to see that Peugeot is aiming to position the 308 SW against some of the segment's higher-end products. 

It's priced from £35,650 with our PHEV engine choice - around £3000 more than the Volkswagen Golf Estate 1.5 eTSI (a mild hybrid) in R-Line trim, but £3000 below the considerably larger Skoda Superb Estate 1.4 TSI iV (also a PHEV) in Sportline Plus guise. 

Peugeot 308 est hybrid lt hello jw 202220221114 3331

There's plenty of kit as standard, including LED headlights, keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. A notable omission for me given the time of year, though, is seat heating, which is available on GT trim only. Boo.

The cabin is a nice place to sit, if slightly tight for someone of my height (6ft 1in). The squared-off steering wheel is a bit different but I think I like it, and it's really good to have some buttons again after the touchpads of my previous long-termer, a Volkswagen ID 4 GTX. 

However, I'm encountering a problem that's well-documented in reviews of the 308: the steering wheel cuts off the bottom of the digital dial display. I can't lower it any further because then it makes contact with my legs. 

Back to top

For me, the main attraction of this quirky i-Cockpit layout is the pairing of that digital dial display with a 10.0in infotainment touchscreen. I'm told it's a 'love it or hate it' sort of system, so it will be interesting to see how I cope given my patience tends to wear thin pretty quickly. 

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included, or you can make use of the in-built sat-nav. Among my favourite parts of the interior are the iToggles, which are an example of touchpads done right. They're big, responsive and customisable, and have so far proved handy. 

Peugeot 308 boot

Elsewhere, the Drive Assist Pack (usually optional but standard on pricier trims) bolsters safety with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, blindspot monitoring and automatic emergency braking. 

Like its hatchback sibling, this estate certainly looks the part, continuing Peugeot's run of eye-catching and stylish designs, plus it has been given a differentiated look at the rear, with a redesigned bumper and a larger windscreen.  

All in all it's one of the best-looking estates and certainly far more attractive than most of the cookie-cutter SUVs and crossovers many Brits are clamouring for. And the optional Elixer Red pearlescent paint is the icing on the cake. 

Back to top

With a stretched body comes improved practicality, and indeed the 308's boot space is enhanced to 548 litres here (or to 608 litres in a non-PHEV model) increasing to 1574 litres if you fold down the 40/20/40 split rear seats.

It's not quite as capacious as the estate versions of the Volkswagen Golf (611 litres) or the Ford Focus (575 litres), but it's still a decent increase over the 412 litres offered by the 309 hatchback - and it was more than enough for our annual Christmas getaway. 

On that note, thanks Santa for this generous gift. I'm looking forward to the next few months. 

Second Opinion

The 308 makes a funny sort of estate. Its stretched wheelbase promises more rear space but not enough to make this a selling point over rivals, while boot space is usefully large but not class-leading. To me, it’s a bit like the old Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon: the prettiest version of a pretty car. 

Matt Saunders

Back to the top

Peugeot 308 SW specification

Specs: Price New £35,650 Price as tested £36,345 Options Elixer Red pearlescent paint, £695

Test Data: Engine 1.6-litre 4 cyl turbocharged petrol with electric motor Power 147bhp at 6000rpm Torque 184lb ft at 1750rpm Kerb weight 1659kg Top speed 139mph 0-62mph 7.7sec Fuel economy 213.7mpg - 281mpg CO2 25g/km Faults None Expenses None

Back to the top

Join the debate

Add a comment…
LP in Brighton 13 February 2023

Looks stylish but it seems like month 2 wasn't a good one, never mind the poor petrol consumption and limited electric only range. I think I'd just buy a Toyota and be done with it! 

rhwilton 11 January 2023

1. Heated seats. No one uses heated seats on a battery powered car. They warm the car up from the charger.  

2.  18 miles? Try selecting generation braking and try warming the car while it's plugged in, as above. That'll give you a lot more miles.  

3. Has anyone from Autocar ever measured the consumption of an ICE car on winter mornings. It might balance the conversation a bit. 

xxxx 11 January 2023

1. yes they do because it has advantages over using the heater. Oh this isn't a pure battery car by the way.

2. 18 miles is rubbish, a car cools down so quickly warming it up beforehand makes little difference, couple of miles maybe on such a poorly performing car.

3. ICE cars warmup within a few miles then become more efficient. After 18 miles some people would have finished their journey. 

Marc 13 February 2023
1. Heated seats. No one uses heated seats on a battery powered car. They warm the car up from the charger.

I pretty much only use the heated seats and steering wheel. Yes, I do preheat the car whilst it is on charge before I set off, but even on the coldest of days whilst on my actual journey, I never use use the heater, only the heated seats. It makes quite a different to the efficiency.

sabre 10 January 2023


If you allow your precious space to be used for advertisement that waste our time, people may fill in more comments regarding sports, politics, fashion, housing etc. 

are you prepared for that or please erase anything that is not purely automotive.