Peugeot 308 SW
Estate car with character
The third generation of the Peugeot 308 is being introduced simultaneously as a hatchback (five-door) and a space wagon ("SW"). For the first, the emphasis is on sportiness, so muscular, stocky lines have been chosen. With the SW, on the other hand, the length is emphasized to achieve a more elegant appearance.
Every 308 has a very cleanly drawn front end with a confident appearance. This is due to the small, double headlights that overflow into "claws". These are always headlights with LED technology. Depending on the chosen version, this is "matrix LED" for intelligent high beam. The rear of the SW is again elegant thanks to wide, slim taillights.
The 308 hatchback and estate differ not only in appearance but also in actual dimensions. In fact, the SW has a 5 cm longer wheelbase, and this mainly benefits the luggage space.
The luggage compartment is accessed through a large tailgate that is optionally electrically operated. The luggage floor can be set at two different levels for more cargo space or just a lower lift threshold. The boot measures 608 or 548 liters for standard or hybrid versions, respectively. By folding down the rear seats (40/20/40 ratio), this can be increased to 1,634 or 1,574 liters, making the 308 SW averagely spacious for a car in this segment.
The front seat, on the other hand, is anything but average, as the 308 features Peugeot's "iCockpit". That represents a cabin with a small steering wheel which the driver sits almost "around" as in a sports car. This gives much more control over the car and eliminates the need for an expensive head-up display. In fact, the dials are on the steering column and therefore fall perfectly into the driver's field of vision. For some, the iCockpit may seem unsuitable, but experience shows that, when the time is taken to adjust the seat and steering wheel correctly, drivers of varying stature sit just fine. In that case, the iCockpit alone is a reason to choose Peugeot!
Another quirky Peugeot invention is 3d display on the display on the steering column (depending on the equipment level). This shows the most important data in the front, which automatically attracts more attention than data in the background. Especially with warnings, this really adds value. In addition: it looks very nice!
The 308 is the first car to be equipped with Peugeot's new audio, communication and navigation system. The progress here is not in functionality, but in operation. The menus are now set up like a smartphone, including the ability to swipe to browse. Touching the screen with three fingers at a time brings up the main menu. Also copied from the smartphone is the smart assistant, which means the system is now controllable through freely formulated commands. The difference with the smartphone, however, is that the number of topics is limited. Peugeot's smart assistant understands only requests related to weather, traffic, destinations and the radio.
That "radio" deserves special mention. The standard audio system is already nicely taken care of, but those who choose the optional system from Focal get an above-average sounding hifi in the house. It convinces with clarity, without sounding sterile like some hi-fi systems do.
The 308 SW is particularly appealing to business drivers, which is why two plug-in hybrids are available in addition to the traditional diesel engines. These plug-in hybrids come in two power ratings: 180 and 225 hp, both have a 12.4 kWh battery to power the electric motor. The first 60 kilometers can be covered entirely electrically on this, and then the 308 SW drives like an electric car: whisper quiet, extremely smooth and, of course, emission-free.
What it cannot do is drive with one pedal. Instead, the driver must select the "B"- mode of the automatic to convert extra kinetic energy into electricity. In any case, the automatic has its own operating instructions, as the "P"and "B"mode are controlled by buttons and the rest by a "toggle switch".
The performance of the 180-hp plug-in hybrid is excellent and leaves little to be desired. At least, until the 225 hp version is tried! Even when driven calmly, this variant has noticeably more power at the ready. This makes the car livelier and gives a superior feeling. When more is demanded, the "HYbrid 225" is seriously fast. This is true not only for 0 to 100 km/h (in 7.5 seconds). During a sprint from 100 to 130 km/h, the test car had such supremacy that the occupants were almost pressed into the seats! Given this performance, it is good to know that the brakes are exceptionally biting, allowing the power to be kept under control at all times.
On paper, the 308 SW HYbrid has a fuel consumption of 1.2 litres per 100 km, but this is no more than a theoretical value. In practice, the more often charging is done, the more electric driving can be done and thus the lower the consumption. Charging can be done at home (7 hours from 0 to 100%) or at a public charging station (2.5 hours from 0 to 100%). By default, the HYbrid charges with up to 3.7 kW. A 7.4 kW charging connection is only available as an option. Via a companion app, the charging process can also be monitored remotely.
According to Peugeot, all versions of the 308 are on the same chassis and only the rim size differs. Yet during test drives with the various versions, major differences were experienced. A sporty version with the strongest hybrid engine seemed like a completely different car than the entry-level model with manual petrol engine.
In all versions, the iCockpit defines the experience. The small steering wheel ensures that only a small steering motion is enough to make a sharp turn. As a result, the car feels agile and alive. Peugeot is able to achieve this without resorting on a hard suspension, which is why the 308 is also very comfortable. The iCockpit thus gives the 308 a unique character!
The third generation of the Peugeot 308 SW shows more character than ever before. So the question is: who will that appeal to? A first drive shows that these will mainly be buyers who are comfortable with an extravagant French design. In doing so, the 308 SW goes along with the latest trends and technology. This is partly for convenience (voice-activated assistant), partly for safety (3d display, driver assistance) and partly for the drive (plug-in hybrid). That's also why the 308 is a very wise choice.
- Fine plug-in hybrid engines
- Rich, modern and well thought-out equipment
- ICockpit provides a completely different experience
- Moderate legroom in the rear
- Electric tailgate sees obstacles that are not there
- Unnecessarily complex automatic transmission controls