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Peugeot 308 SW Sport 1.6 HDi 110

Click to view picture gallery“Whatever you think the ‘SW badge
  on the Peugeot 308
s wraparound
  rump stands for
the jurys still out
space wagon is the odds-on
its a clever little lugger!

WITH ITS WEDGE-SHAPED PROFILE, rising waistline, sculptured flanks, 'machined' wheel arches, coupe-like roofline and deep, wide front grille topped a distinctive V-shaped bonnet, the 308 SW is undeniably eye-catching.

Did someone mention the 'E' word? Our test 308 was fitted with Peugeot's excellent particulate filter-equipped 1.6-litre HDi common-rail turbodiesel and not only is this unit torquey, willing and relatively quiet in use, but it's also very definitely fuel efficient. Its official combined cycle fuel economy is given as 57.6mpg — we achieved a real-world 49.1mpg over a week's test driving — but extra-urban runs could see as much as 70.5mpg. Even urban driving should return 44.1mpg. In range terms, that's around 800 miles for touring trips and, based on our test average, getting on for 600 miles between fill-ups for general driving. And being economical doesn't mean any performance penalty; top speed is 115mph and zero to 62mph takes 12.5 seconds.

But decent fuel consumption is not quite so gratifying if you have to travel 'economy' class. No such problem with the Sport trim 308 SW we tested; it comes with a high standard specification including air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, four electric windows (all with one-shot operation), electrically-operated door mirrors, a massive full-length Cielo panoramic glass roof, radio/CD player with MP3 playback, power steering, trip computer, Peugeot Connect USB & Bluetooth and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Safety kit includes height-adjustable front belts, an overhead seatbelt display for all seven seats, six 'Smart' airbags along with a 'Smart' steering column airbag, Anti-Lock Brakes with BrakeForce Distribution and Electronic Brake Assistance plus with an Electronic Stability Programme for traction and stability control and a five-star EuroNCAP safety rating. Useful optional equipment fitted to our 308 included a rear parking aid (410), digital air conditioning upgrade (280), SatNav (715) and two individual rear seats for row three (510).

“The HDi 110’s official
combined cycle fuel economy is 57.6mpg —
we achieved a
real-world 49.1mpg
The cabin is spacious and airy but best of all it looks classy, with tactile soft-touch trim materials and shapely seats upholstered in a smart material. The huge panoramic glass roof adds a whole new dimension to everyday driving — you feel you're riding along in a full-on convertible with not a whisper of a breeze to disturb you. Naturally there's a one-touch power-operated sunblind to block out the sun.

The fascia looks smart, its uncluttered layout enhanced by the tasteful use of chrome on the five air vents and also for the instrument bezels. Dials are elegant white-faced items and the SatNav uses a neat powered 'flip-up' screen.

Other driver-friendly features include customisable settings for lighting, locking and the SatNav; you can even choose whether on not you want the rear wiper to come on automatically when reverse gear is engaged. The SatNav screen angle is also power-adjustable and the sliding centre armrest fully usable thanks to the space-saving swan-neck handbrake.

The centre stack slopes down to the gearlever, bringing the audio and A/C controls nearer to the driver and in the process adding a snugness to the front cockpit. Being a family-focussed car, the SW has more than enough storage bins and cubbies to go around including slide-out drawers under both front seats. Although on the small side, the glovebox is redeemed by its cooling function. Other nice touches include the automatic oil level check performed on start-up and displayed on the driver's display screen between the rev-counter and speedometer. And with today's ever-changing speed limits it's also good that the speed limiter warning is so easy to adjust on the fly. Travelling in less populated areas? No problem — there's a compass, dislayable on the information screen.

The driver sits square-
on to the three-spoke
steering wheel —
a key factor for leg, hip
and back comfort
regardless of how far
you’re driving
Good seating is a particularly strong point. The driver sits square-on to the three-spoke steering wheel — a key factor for leg, hip and back comfort regardless of what distance you're driving — and there's good kneeroom so no issues with your left knee hitting anything every time you change gear. There's also a well-sited left footrest for when cruise control is engaged and a glasses holder above the driver's door.

Five adults can travel comfortably in the 308 SW and from a passenger perspective it's the 'Modular' seating system that makes it so good. Each of the five rear seats is interchangeable, height adjustable, and can slide (by 90mm to either increase rear leg room or create extra space in the load area), recline (through an angle of between 19 and 30 through several positions), fold to form tables or make up a long load bay floor with a rigid, carpeted surface.

And to transport exceptionally bulky items, they can all be removed completely. You also have the option of removing just one middle row seat, two adjacent seats or two outer seats. Middle row seats are also set several inches higher than the fronts so provide better views out. And some healthy non-electronic entertainment is provided by spring-up tables with built-in cup-holders on the front seatbacks that are sturdy enough for kids to draw on.

Not everyone will want, or need, the optional 6th and 7th seats that are perfect for children up to 1.7 metres tall. If you want to fully utilise the 308's impressive carrying abilities — 674 litres with five seats in use; 1,388 litres (to the height of the backrests) with only the front seats in place and 2,149 litres if loading up to roof level — then a 308 SW in standard five-seat spec could be the ideal solution.

Longer items of up to 3.1 metres can be accommodated by folding the front passenger seat flat while a helpfully low rear sill makes for hassle-free loading. Finally, for those with 'active' lifestyles, the SW will tow a braked 1,000kg.

Handles well,
proving to be pleasingly
agile with minimal
cornering roll — point its
sporty grille at a series
of interesting bends and
the 308 SW will thread
through them with
surprising accuracy...
There's more versatility around the back — the curvaceous wraparound tailgate incorporates its own independently-opening rear window (similar to a Range Rover's) and it's extremely handy in pinched parking spaces. Once open, the rigid rearmost section of the luggage cover can then be lifted and shopping placed in the boot.

Thoughtful touches in the load bay include a deep parcel shelf with built-in extra storage, a rechargeable torch and various storage boxes and elasticated nets to keep things in place. And anytime you're not using the easy-to-remove luggage roller blind it can be stored behind the middle row seats.

This 308 is a comfortable car: ride quality is good on most road surfaces with bumps and ruts soaked up with ease. It may be an estate but the 308 SW feels as composed and complaint as its hatchback sister. And it handles well too, proving to be pleasingly agile with good grip and minimal cornering roll — point its sporty grille at a series of interesting twists and turns and the SW will thread through them with surprising fluency.

And in spite of the electro-hydraulic assistance, the steering feels smooth, accurate and consistent with good turn-in. Add in a reasonably slick gearchange action and strong 'immediate' brakes (discs all round; vented at the front) and, 'space wagon' or not, you'll find the 308 SW enjoyable to drive.

These days cars that sell well do so not just because of what they do, but how well they do what they do. As dedicated family transport the 308 SW is decidedly fit for purpose plus it has the added bonus of being as pleasing to drive as it is economical to run. — MotorBar

Peugeot 308 SW Sport 1.6 HDi 110
| 20,045
Maximum speed: 115mph | 0-62mph: 12.5 seconds | Overall test MPG: 49.1mpg
Power: 110bhp | Torque: 180lb ft | CO2 130g/km