Peugeot’s handsome 308 SW shows there’s life after SUVs

At first glance, this week’s test car has almost everything that speaks for it. Nearly.

For starters, the new Peugeot 308 SW (estate/estate) is an exceptionally good looking car.

Sleek and deep, it’s everything a regular SUV or crossover isn’t.

That might put you off – SUVs and crossovers are so trendy – but it certainly reminded me that there are alternatives to the prevailing consciousness that everything somehow has to belong to this genre.

The Peugeot’s good looks particularly shine at the front, where the new company logo sits at the center of subtle but effective styling lines.

Being so low I suppose emphasizes its daring length. Some station wagons can look too long and ruin the style, if not the effectiveness, of their practical, larger trunk.

The 308 SW stops short of stretching too far. It is almost a foot longer than the 308 hatchback (4.6m vs. 4.3m).

As you’d expect, that length coupled with the wheelbase results in a huge trunk (608 litres) and better – albeit still not outstanding – rear headroom.

It’s tastefully decorated inside, with the latest infotainment ensemble i-Cockpit and a small, flattened steering wheel.

I have to mention one element that didn’t work quite as well. I had a tech-savvy young man with me who struggled to find the temperature and fan on the display and got it working the way we wanted it to.

It needs a manual button, like the one for volume.

Otherwise, the benefits of the i-Cockpit ensemble – distraction reduction being one of them – are unnecessarily compromised.

I know I’m at risk of repeating myself, but if it’s a problem for someone working in the digital business, what hope do I have? To be honest, once we figured out the solution to the maze everything fell into shape a lot easier, but I’d still like a button.

As it turned out, I couldn’t have picked a better car to meet the driving demands of the week.

They have ranged from a ride to and from Dublin Airport, a cross-country ride, transporting a conscientious gentleman to a special ceremony, several small rides through suburbs and a spooky trip to Bray for a Sunday morning swim (no swimming, I can’t ). My hands are still shaking as I type those few words.

Most of the time I had at least one passenger with me, often several and sometimes several pieces of luggage.

This was absolutely an ideal car for tighter city streets, perfect for open road cruising and a gem for steering into tight parking spaces.

My passengers all said they had plenty of room, and although they were tall, they had no complaints about the rear seat space.

The test car had an 8-speed automatic transmission, which I found to be a bit jerky at times, especially at lower speeds and engine revs.

Which brings me to the 1.5 liter diesel powering this SW.

Despite all the full load riding and the nature of things, I couldn’t get the gauge past the half mark.

It was remarkably economical, especially considering the tasks I put it through over a period of time.

I have an estimated 4.6L/100km which is about 60mpg.

That’s excellent – and relevant in view of the prices at the petrol pumps, which have apparently risen again towards €2 per liter.

But I was disappointed with the car’s general lack of quietness, even with smooth enough driving.

Peugeot has always been brilliant at manufacturing diesel engines. I don’t think the noise isolation on this model is that great.

Something tells me this might be a case where I’m very sensitive to noise, given the preponderance of virtually silent electric cars I’ve tested over the last few months? I wouldn’t rule that out as a possibility.

In the case of the 308 SW range, there’s a 1.2-litre petrol and a plug-in, which might be better in that department.

Regardless, I still love the rumble of a diesel on the open road.

The tested SW will cost you around €38,000, which is a lot of money, but people like their comfort parts and they have them in abundance.

Just note that the range starts much closer to €30,000.

Competitors are the Skoda Octavia Combi and the Ford Focus, so why should I buy the Peugeot?

I would buy it for the looks – I don’t think any of the others come close. I would buy it for the economical engine, huge trunk and overall demeanor. But I would pass on the louder than expected motor.

Peugeot 308 SW fact file

Allure trim, 1.5 liter diesel, 8-speed auto, €200 tax, 4.3/5.1 liters/100 km.

Price, including VAT delivery, €38,330.

Specifications include: driver attention warning, intelligent cruise control, Peugeot i-Cockpit, 10-inch touchscreen, Eco/Normal/Sport mode selector, automatic climate control, electric/heated folding exterior mirrors; 180-degree reversing camera with parking sensors, leather-look and fabric seat covers; Mirror screen, 4 USB-C sockets, connected 3D navigation, 17″ alloys, rear spoiler. Peugeot’s handsome 308 SW shows there’s life after SUVs

Fry Electronics Team

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