site search by freefind
MotorBar: 1200+ unique in-depth car reviews. Plus travel & destinations, and 1000 DVD and CD reviews. Online for 14 years. Written by experts.
Peugeot 308 SW Sport 1.6 VTi 120

Click to view picture galleryPeugeots latest 308 SW/Estate is
  no MPV, but it does offer up to
  seven seats, 674-2,149 litres of load
  space and versatile seating. It
s
  also comfortable and smartly-styled...
  So who wants an MPV anyway?”


PEUGEOT'S LATEST 308 SW/ESTATE RANGE of five-door models goes on sale from June 2008, with prices ranging from 14,395 to 20,845. These new variants complement the 308 GT THP three-and five-door hatchback sports models which are already on sale, priced at 18,995 and 19,595 respectively.

Peugeot UK has an annual target of 38,000 sales for the 308 lower-medium sector passenger car range, and of that total the new five-door SW/Estate models should achieve 20 per cent of those sales.

Since their launch in the last quarter of 2007, around 15,000 sales of 308 models have been achieved. The 308 CC coupe-cabriolet models are expected next year, and the 308 RC-Z Coupe has been confirmed for 2010.

Peugeot expect that 58 per cent of SW customers will be fleet/company user-choosers and 60 per cent of customers will choose a diesel model. At launch, the 308 SW/Estate will be available with three trim levels: S, Sport and SE. In time for the September new registration plate month SR variants (positioned between S and Sport) will be added to the line-up. On-the-road prices represent an increase difference of 500-1,400 between the new SW/Estate models and their 308 5-door Hatchback counterparts.

The S and SR versions of the 308 SW/Estate will differ from the Sport and SE versions by the fitment of a steel roof panel — Sport and SE versions feature a Cielo panoramic glass roof — and a folding split rear bench seat instead of individual removable seats for up to seven passengers. S and SR models are classed as Estates; Sport and SE versions are SW models. The Sport terminology, incidentally, refers to the level of specification and not to added 'sports' performance.

At launch the 308 SW/Estate range is available, depending on the specification level, with eight engine options. There are five petrol units: 1.4 and 1.6-litre with 95, 120 140, 159 and 175bhp outputs. And then there is the choice of three HDi diesel engines: 1.6 or 2.0-litre with 90, 110 and 136bhp.

The best-selling SW model overall and driven by fleet and business-user demand will be the Sport HDI 110 version priced at 17,995. Retail customers not covering such large mileages are more likely to opt for the 16,395 Sport 1.6 VTi 120. This particular engine comes from the PSA Peugeot-Citroen and BMW Group.

Sharing the same wheelbase as the outgoing 307 SW, but with an increased length of 72mm and width of 117mm (with the mirrors folded), the new 308 SW provides more interior and more luggage space than the outgoing model. To improve the 308 SW's dynamic performance, the width of both the front and rear tracks have been increased as well as the rigidity of the body.

Standard equipment on all models includes power steering, driver airbag, passenger airbag, side airbags, curtain airbags, remote control central locking with deadlocks, electric front windows, steering column adjustable for reach and rake, radio and single-CD player, front passenger and driver seat height adjustment, anti-lock braking, trip computer, front fog-lights and air-conditioning.

The S and SR models, as already mentioned, both have a steel roof panel instead of a glass roof and a split rear folding bench seat. They also get a 20-litre under-floor storage area in the rear load bay and a 'classic' front grille design. The SR version adds 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth hands-free kit, rear seat centre armrest with storage and SMARTNav.

The Sport version adds to the specification of the S model with three second-row individual and removable seats, a Cielo panoramic glass roof, 17-inch alloy wheels, 'Sports' front grille, radio/CD with MP3 compatibility, opening rear tailgate window section, steering column airbag, front centre armrest, leather steering wheel, electric rear windows, electronic stability programme and cruise control.

The SE version then adds (compared to the Sport version): 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air-conditioning, two third-row individual and removable seats, Visibility Pack (automatic headlamps and wipers), auto-dimming rear-view mirror, electric folding door mirrors, Comfort Pack (front seat lumbar support and armrest), Ambiance Pack (fragrance diffuser, ambient lighting), dark tinted rear windows and tyre pressure sensors.

I know the 1.6-litre HDI engine will be the best-seller driven by fleet sales, but for me (and many other retail buyers) the star of the line-up is the 1.6-litre 120bhp petrol engine model. This smooth, free-revving unit comes from the tie-up with BMW and is also used in the MINI range. The only drawback is that it is used in conjunction with a 5-speed manual transmission and ideally could use a sixth gear for motorways. However for those so inclined, this engine is also available with an automatic gearbox option.

In 5-speed form the 308 SW achieved 36.6mpg during a brief test driving using routes around the M4/M40 and M25 motorways, so I would expect this figure to get closer to the official 39.8mpg in real-life conditions. For the record, the official fuel consumption figures for urban and extra-urban driving are 28.8 and 50.4mpg respectively.

The 308 has never been the sharpest handling car in its class — Focus, Astra and Golf are all much better — but the Peugeot is by no means disgraced. It is set up for comfort and safety; it has loads of predictable grip with little body roll; and while the steering lacks 'feel', in all other areas it is easy to live with.

The equipment levels are high, but then so is the price relative to the competition and the market place is so competitive these days that after a while I expect discounts will be available.

In the best-selling Sport specification level the SW comes with five seats as standard, but the three rear seats are individual so they can be moved forwards or backwards as required, or folded to give maximum load and passenger carrying options. For an extra 380, two additional third-row seats can be added making it potentially a seven-seater.

Be warned: this is no MPV though. It's clever, but no alternative to the Vauxhall Zafira or VW Touran. However, the load space is huge: 674 litres with five seats in use; and 2,149 litres in two-seat mode. Prospective customers will no doubt 'mark-up' the 308 SW's versatile seating while at the same time noting that it's not an MPV. They may also mark it down for its lazy handling and its on-the-road price. They will, on the other hand, certainly be impressed by its smart styling, high level of safety equipment, huge load space and the fact that it's both comfortable and practical. — David Miles

Peugeot 308 SW Sport1.6 VTi 120
| 16,395
Maximum speed: 117mph | 0-62mph: 12 seconds
Overall test MPG: 36.6mpg | Power: 120bhp | Torque: 120lb ft
CO2 169g/km | Insurance group TBC