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The Top Gear car review: Peugeot 308 SW
For:Space, some fine engines, road manners, design
Against:The touchscreen-averse are relegated to the base model
1.2 e-THP 130 PureTech Active 5dr
What we say:
Peugeot transfers the surprise appeal of the 308 5dr into a practical estate. A pretty, able new entrant
What is it?
An estate version of the European Car of the Year, the Peugeot 308. Now, the 308 hatch isn’t a total stand-out in our rankings, but the estate has a trick or two up its sleeve. It’s built on a stretched wheelbase. The back seat is moved aft to use up some of that stretch, and the rest is given over to the boot. More rear overhang than the hatch gives a further elongation of the boot.
At the same time as the SW, Peugeot is launching some new low-emission high-economy engines that aren’t at all sluggish, so the whole 308 range is more alluring.
See the hatchback’s page, basically. In theory a wheelbase stretch would make the ride more placid but the handling slightly less reactive. But you’d have to be driving them back-to-back over a tricky road before you noticed. So you’ve got a car with fairy keen responses, reassuring yet quite amusing reactions when you push it through a bend, and a decently supple ride.
Relative quiet is another virtue you’ll appreciate on a long journey. As promised, Peugeot has now put a turbo option into its little three-cylinder 1.2 petrol. The result is a revelation: the torque of a diesel, but a chirpy happiness to rev beyond 6000, plus far more agreeable quietness at low speeds than a diesel. But if you want ultimate low-tax economy there’s also a super-thrifty BlueHDI 1.6 Euro 6 diesel making 120bhp and 88.3mpg for just 85g/km in the estate (82g/km in the hatch). Given its huge load space at the back, that’s pretty impressive…
On the inside
The crux of an estate, and the SW delivers. The back seat space and the boot – seats up or down – are class medallists. The boot has lots of tie-downs and some underfloor space too. It’s been extremely well thought out.
Peugeot’s cabin build quality is climbing the ladder at last. Almost all controls are on a touchscreen. It’s not the most responsive or graphically attractive of such interfaces, but it does allow an handsomely tidy, minimalist dash.
With a suite of low-emissions powertrains, it’s got a lot to get company car drivers’ attention, especially as all that space might let you swap from a car in ostensibly the next size – and price – class up. Just beware if you are trading up that some bigger wheel options nudge it into a higher CO2 band: for once, fleet drivers may prefer not to insist on the range-topper. If you’re buying privately, make sure you get a good lease or PCP deal to protect your future retained values because, face it, they’re still not a Peugeot strong point.