New Peugeot 308 SW 2021 review

The new Peugeot 308 SW estate looks great and boasts plenty of tech, but this pricey plug-in model is not the pick of the range


  • 4.0 out of 5

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    Verdict

    If you’re a company car driver, low emissions – and the resulting low Benefit in Kind costs – will make the plug-in versions of the 308 the pick of the range. They drive well too, and elsewhere they maintain the new model’s core strengths (a fantastic cabin,) and weaknesses (the lack of rear passenger space). We’d save a little cash over this top spec version and go for the less powerful hybrid option, though.

    This is the new Peugeot 308, the latest in a series of 3-0 models that has had its ups and downs. There was the 309 – great – the 306 – very good – and then there was the 307… Here’s the brand’s newest model, which we have here in SW estate form to compete against the likes of the Ford Focus Estate and Skoda Octavia Estate.

    Out of those two, it’s much more closely aligned with the Octavia. That isn’t just because the 308 and Octavia boast cabins a step up in quality from most other rivals in the segment – we reckon the 308 has not only the most stylish, but also the best finished interior of any in the class – the other thing that aligns them closely is that both are available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. On the face of it, the version here looks a little pricey – this top spec 222bhp GT Premium PHEV costs £40,000.

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    • However, the same combination of 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and 12.4kWh battery is available with a more modest 178bhp output, and in a less luxurious Allure trim. In this guise, the price comes to a more competitive £34,200. For reference, an Octavia Estate iV in SE L trim, costs £33,590 – though at 201bhp, it does have a little extra power.

      Power certainly isn’t something you miss in this most potent version of the 308. The sub-eight-second 0-62mph time feels entirely plausible, with the petrol motor backed up by a big swell of torque from the electric motor. Switch to fully electric mode – a slightly clunky transition compared to some rivals – and the 109bhp from the e-motor means that there’s still enough poke to at least keep up with the flow of traffic. 

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      It’s possible to force the car into electric drive via the drive mode switch. Officially, it’ll be able to drive like this for 37 miles before the petrol engine fires into life again, though our test car was reading 23 miles of range with a full charge. Combined with emissions of 25g/km, the 308 PHEV sits in the 11 per cent Benefit in Kind tax band.

      Battery top-ups are something that the Peugeot can out-score the Skoda on too – for a little extra cash. Both get a 3.6kW charger as standard, which means a home recharge takes three and a half to four hours, but the 308’s optional 7.4kW charger drops this to just under two.

      Compared to the non-hybrid petrol and diesel models, there’s appreciably more weight to carry, so the 308 feels a little more lethargic through the bends, and the front tyres a little more prone to giving up grip. It still handles sweetly enough though, and refinement is great overall.

      So much of the 308 feels premium and the same can be said for rear legroom – but unfortunately, only once you’ve added ‘at a’ before it. Compared to the Octavia, the 308 is very cramped for rear seat passengers, with legroom in particular significantly limited. 

      Conversely, boot space isn’t that bad. Both PHEV versions of the Peugeot and the Skoda have compromised boot volumes due to the need to package the large batteries. The 308 is less affected by this though; its overall volume stands at 548 litres (down from 608 in petrol versions) while the Skoda’s space drops from 660 litres to 490 litres. The boot floor has been raised to accommodate the battery, and there’s no extra space for the charging cables.

      Any other flaws? Well the cabin looks great but for some drivers, the view of that iCockpit digital display will be obstructed by the steering wheel. The wheel itself is a little frustrating too, as there’s shiny ‘piano’ black plastic on the spokes exactly where your thumbs would usually rest.

      Equipment levels are high throughout the range. All PHEV models get wheels at least 17-inches in diameter, a 3D navigation system displayed on a (much-improved) 10-inch touchscreen, all-round parking sensors, a reversing camera, and LED headlights. The GT Premium comes with an exhaustive kit list that adds massaging seats, a Focal sound system and, for SW models, an electric tailgate.

      Model: Peugeot 308 SW GT Premium Hybrid 225 PureTech
      Price:  £40,000
      Engine:  1.6 four-cylinder turbo plug-in hybrid
      Power:  222bhp/360Nm
      Transmission:  Eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
      0-62mph: 7.6 seconds
      Top speed:  146mph
      Economy/CO2:  213.8mpg/26g/km
      On sale:  January 2022
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