Peugeot’s 308 SW is the estate version of the French maker’s stylish hatchback, introduced late last year. Geoff Ashcroft reports.
Its wheelbase and rear overhang are 11cm and 22cm longer, respectively, than the hatch, allowing it to take on key rivals, such as VW’s Golf estate and Honda’s new Civic estate - and the latter will be put to the test in FG next month.
Extra length helps with the 308’s proportions and creates useful space inside; its load space is impressive for such a small estate.
The SW has a sleek look, even on 16in wheels. Up front, its smart nose and sharp lines create an elegant stance, while the rounded rear-end creates smooth bodylines.
Such slippery aerodynamics have led to an impressive fuel consumption figure of 85.6mpg for this BlueHDi120 model. The 120hp 1.6 diesel engine meets Euro 6 emissions and emits only 88g/km of CO2. So there is no road tax to pay on this load lugger.
Long motorway runs and cruise control helped the 308 SW to 70mpg, though it quickly slid to 63mpg in rolling countryside. A week’s hard motoring returned 59mpg, though it involved frequent use of auto stop/start at traffic lights and road junctions.
But driving the 308 SW is less rewarding than its headline-grabbing fuel figure.
The driving position takes a bit of getting used to, and a small steering wheel with a limited range of movement means you will need to drop the wheel to see the dials. However, you may prefer not to see the car’s odd rev counter, which sweeps anti-clockwise.
Its six-speed manual gearbox, while easy to use, is always one gear higher than you need. So the box needs frequently stirring to make the most of the horses on offer, though 150hp and 180hp diesels are available.
Accessing the load space can prove difficult as the tailgate is particularly heavy to lift. Load rails in the floor and one-pull seat-folding levers make the space easy to use. And as seat backs fold, each base eases downwards too, giving a flat load space.
The flimsy load cover is awkward to use but it can be taken out and stored under the boot floor.
But while the 308 SW offers lots of space, it suffers from a lack of practical touches. The stylish, yet minimalist interior lacks buttons and almost every element of cabin convenience - climate control, radio, navigation and car settings - has to be controlled through a 9.7in touch-screen.
And rather than turn a dial, you will need to navigate sub menus and wait - it is a tardy system which would benefit from some push-button shortcuts.
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