Is the Peugeot 308 SW a Sunday Driver's dream?
I have been meaning to do a review on the 308 SW since I have spent a significant amount of time with one (unfortunately).
Sunday drivers - every now and then we find ourselves stuck behind one of those. This "special" breed of driver is the typical careless A to B commuter. That's not a bad thing...if you re one of them, or if suddenly a window opens up and you drop 2 gears down in order to decisively overtake them.
Naturally, when they are searching for their next car, performance is unsurprisingly, at the bottom of their list. This is where I think the Peugeot 308 SW might shine. Or am I wrong? The example I had the "pleasure" of driving is a 2019 facelift model. This means, it now has the 1.5-litre turbo diesel, instead of the old 1.6.
The car in question is a base version which means, no rear electric windows and a normal air conditioning. The seats are manually adjusted and you don't get rear electric windows. You also don't get the touchscreen, in the central console. Instead, you have a small black on white display which can be altered between a few different layouts, with the push of a button on the right stock behind the steering wheel.
Speaking of steering wheel, I can't help but not mention how small it is...and light. Really light. You can easily turn it from lock to lock with one finger even if you are stationary. Feedback from it is almost non-existent. At the very least, it's doesn't have a thousand buttons sticking out of it like boils on a teenager's face. Actually, what little buttons it has are well-integrated and flush with the rest of the steering wheel. Not that there is a lot of space for buttons.
The interior is actually elegant and simplified with some interesting design solutions. There are a few buttons and they are quite logical. The climate control buttons need to be decisively pressed in order to respond which depending on who you ask is either a good or a bad thing. The aluminium ball on the gear shifter is a nice touch in terms of aesthetics but is definitely not nice to the touch when the car has been sitting under the sun for a while.
Some of the materials are quite decent but the further you go down, the cheaper they get. It's not as cheap as a Dacia or a Fiat Tipo but it's not something to write home about. The seats feel like they are meant for something that isn't human and lack any significant side bolstering. I also wish it had an armrest between the front seats. Instead, you get a shallow cup holder, if you can call it that and a storage area, good for a large bottle of water which you will knock down every time you shift gears.
Interior space is quite decent and even if someone with my size is at the wheel, space behind the driver's seat is quite enough for the average-size person. Cargo space is where the 308 SW really shines. With 610 litres of minimal trunk volume, it's among the largest in the segment. Drop the rear seats down and it becomes a staggering 1660 litres. You also get an even cargo area.
The loading area is quite low so you don't need to be Hafthor Bjornsson to put things in the back. You can even sleep in the back if you absolutely need to (by the way, it's not the most comfortable experience).
I usually avoid talking about exterior design, as it is a subjective matter. Still, I think most of us would agree that this generation is a lot more restrained than its predecessors. The design is much more sedate and generic. That said, you cannot argue with the interior space offered as a result which is much better than previous models.
How it drives
Among other things, the French are known for their cheese. And you can definitely tell they've used a lot of the stuff when designing the chassis and suspension. You don't even need to push the 308 that hard to notice, it feels almost like an old body on frame construction (which it isn't). The car is wobbly and the suspension is so soft that it's easy to bottom out. At least the ride quality is somewhat decent. The car definitely doesn't want to be driven hard. Something that becomes painfully obvious almost immediately.
The engine is a 1.5-litre turbo diesel with 102 hp at 3500 rpm and 250 Nm at 1750 rpm. It has a nice mid-range shove to it...but that's all it has. Still, power doesn't die down so sudden after 3000 rpm like on the old 1.6 engine it replaces. There is literally no one home under 1700 rpm and turbo lag is noticeable.
The test car was equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox. With the facelift comes an optional 8-speed automatic. 1st and 2nd gear are short which helps with off the line acceleration. 0-100 km/h happens in 11.9 seconds and top speed is around 183 km/h.
According to Peugeot, in this configuration, the car should do a combined 3.8 L/100 km (61.9 US mpg / 73.4 UK mpg). Considering, the test was carried out in Malta and there is a lot of stopping and going and that the quality of fuel is not the best, the 5.5 L/100 km (42.8 US/ 51.4 UK mpg) is quite an acceptable figure, even if not as impressive.
A sensible car for sensible people who just want to go from A to B without much of a hassle. For about 20 000 EUR you get the 308 SW as equipped in the test. Considering that cars are getting more and more expensive as time moves on, because of all the tech they incorporate, it's good to know there are still relatively affordable options out there.
It's like going to your local restaurant, famous for its "dishes at people's prices". They aren't necessarily the best but the amount you get for the price makes you go back there regularly.