Peugeot 308 SW (2014-2021) Review
The Peugeot 308 SW is a good-looking and competent estate car with a cavernous load space and a wide variety of trims and engine options
Strengths & weaknesses
- Economical engine choices
- Class-leading boot size
- Comfortable ride
- Steering wheel can obscure instruments for some drivers
- Highly distracting touchscreen for too many of the controls
- Rear seats not as spacious as the boot
Peugeot’s 308 SW is a big-booted estate version of the stylish 308 family hatch. It’s aimed at buyers considering estate versions of smaller family favourites such as the Volkswagen Golf Estate, Ford Focus Estate, Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and Skoda Octavia Estate.
But if a big load space is important to you (and if you’re considering an estate, it probably is), then the 308 is pretty much in a class of its own. Its 660-litre boot capacity (increasing to 1,775 litres with the rear seats folded) outstrips everything its rivals can offer, including the hefty 610-litre boot in the Octavia. In fact, the Skoda Octavia would have to call in its big brother, the enormous Superb Estate, to match the boot space offered by the 308 SW. The boot in the Peugeot also has a conveniently low loading lip, making it a superbly practical load-lugger.
Fortunately for Peugeot, the 308 SW is about more than just a massive boot – it happens to drive very nicely too, melding comfort, simplicity and driving fun. It feels comfortable on the road, but with sharp steering and a tiny steering wheel, it manages to feel reasonably sporty, too. Go for a GT model and you’ll get firmer suspension for an even sportier feel.
Updates in 2017 added a new eight-speed automatic gearbox and a 1.5-litre diesel engine that add to its breadth of capabilities. The same update brought a raft of mechanical changes too, which make it more enjoyable to drive.
Unfortunately for larger families, the space in the rear is unimpressive (especially when you consider how generous the boot is), but it’s fine for kids, and adults won’t complain except on longer journeys.
Comfort improves for occupants in the front. The seats are supportive, the cabin feels much airier than it does in the rear and, for the driver, the steering and pedals are light and easy to use and most of the controls are logically laid out.
We say most, because the heating controls are buried in the touchscreen media system - making it far more difficult to change the cabin temperature than it should be and a huge distraction for the driver compared with traditional rotary controls that let you select your desired temperature in barely a second.
The touchscreen itself has neither the highest resolution nor the most slick interface, so changing the temperature while you’re driving along requires several steps and is quite a distraction even if you simply want to adjust the airflow or temperature, requiring you to jab away at the screen and taking your attention away from the road. Worse still, when you’re looking at the heating and ventilation controls, you can’t look at other pieces of information that are contained within that screen – such as sat-nav instructions.
Considering that pretty much all of the 308 SW's rivals have far more usable air-conditioning and media systems, we consider this a serious failing and would recommend going for the VW Golf Estate or Ford Focus Estate for a decent combination of space and slick in-car tech.
Another issue is that shorter drivers will struggle to see the dials in the instrument binnacle as Peugeot has taken the step of raising the instrument cluster above the line of the steering wheel, and making the wheel smaller, If you’re relatively short, you can’t see over the steering wheel and at the dials unless you have your seat at the highest setting and the steering wheel at the lowest - which may not prove comfortable for you. Peugeot says it’s done this so the instruments are more in line with the driver’s eye, but if you’re the wrong height, this set-up is not ideal and again, the VW Golf and Ford Focus equivalents are far wiser choices for you.
If it weren't for these substantial flaws plus slightly tight rear-seat space, the 308 could be a real contender for best in class. It has a huge boot, a wide range of engines and is a pleasant car to drive.
Best Peugeot 308 SW for...
Best for Economy – Peugeot 308 SW BlueHDi 130
The smallest diesel engine is the best performing in terms of economy. Official economy figures suggest that it’ll get around 60mpg - which is impressive for a car this large. Emissions of just 100g/km of CO2 are impressive, too.
Best for Families – Peugeot 308 SW BlueHDi 180
When it comes to hauling you and your family over long distances, the most powerful 180hp diesel is the one to go for, as it offers all the performance you could need – even with a full boot and complement of passengers – plus you should be able to get around 50mpg from it. The only downside is that it’s only offered in top-spec GT form, so it’s a little expensive.
Best for Performance – Peugeot 308 1.6L PureTech 225 GT
The 225hp 1.6-litre engine in the GT doesn't exactly make it a rocket ship, but it is the quickest version of the estate version of the 308, and is capable of 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds, while returning around 40mpg.
• 2014 New generation of Peugeot 308 is first available to UK customers.
• 2017 Updated 308 released. New lights, new technology and an overall more muscular look. New 1.5-litre BlueHDi engine and automatic gearbox too.
Understanding Peugeot 308 SW names
Engine 1.5 BlueHDi
1.5 denotes the engine size in litres, and BlueHDI tells us this is a diesel.
Trim GT Line
GT Line: This indicates the level of standard equipment you can expect to find in the car. There are four trim levels ranging from ‘basic’ Active, through Allure and sporty-looking GT-Line to the performance GT model.
Peugeot 308 SW Engines
PETROL: 1.2-litre Puretech, 1.6-litre Puretech (GT), DIESEL: 1.5-litre Blue HDI, 2.0-litre Blue HDI
Under the 308’s bonnet you’ll find a variety of petrol and diesel engines. The smallest is a three-cylinder petrol engine called the 1.2-litre PureTech. This has Stop and Start technology (it’ll turn off the engine independently when you’re in traffic and turn itself back on when you want to get going). It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox and will do close to 50mpg in real-world testing.
The most powerful petrol engine available is the 1.6-litre 225hp GT, and could return as much as 48mpg if you drive carefully.
The newest engine on offer in the 308 is the 1.5-litre BlueHdi 130 diesel. This has plenty of clever fancy emissions-reducing tech on it, so it’s eco-friendly as well as frugal. And it is remarkably frugal - real-world testing indicates that it can do around 60mpg in mixed driving environments. On real roads, this engine is refined and has plenty of power for most situations.
There’s also a 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel. This has 180hp and makes the 308 much quicker than the smaller-engined diesel. This can also be specified with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, making this the engine to have for people who do lots of miles.
Peugeot 308 SW Trims
Active, Allure, GT Line, GT
The Peugeot 308 SW comes in four different trim levels. The trims available (in price order from most expensive to cheapest) are Active, Allure, GT Line and GT.
Active has air-conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and cruise control. Plus alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control (different heating controls for driver and passenger) rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, as well as a 9.7-inch touchscreen media system with sat-nav.
Upgrading to Allure spec gets you bigger and better-looking alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, and electrically folding door mirrors.
GT Line offers a reversing camera, LED front fog lamps and 18-inch alloy wheels. Plus twin exhaust pipes on the outside, and red stitching in the interior.
The next step up, GT, offers yet more equipment. Chief of which is a driver assistance pack with adaptive cruise control (cruise control that monitors and adjusts how close you are to the car in front) and autonomous emergency braking (which can brake the car for you).
Peugeot 308 SW Reliability and warranty
The annual Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey suggests that the latest 308 is a reliable car. It placed 19th in the 2017 survey of the top 75 cars to own. It gained strong scores for ride and handling, as well as fuel economy and running costs. The only poor rating was for the media system, connectivity and electrics.
A three-year warranty comes as standard with all 308 models. This consists of a two-year/unlimited-mileage Peugeot package, and an additional year’s cover provided by Peugeot’s UK dealer network. These warranties are generally similar but tend to be limited to 60,000 miles in the third year.
Used Peugeot 308 SW
This generation of 308 has been on sale since 2014, which means that there are thousands available on the second-hand market.
The updated model came out in 2017, and has started surfacing on the second-hand market. If your budget allows, we'd recommend going for one of these. It's slightly better than older cars in nearly every respect - and the new 1.5-litre diesel engine is economical and smooth.