Peugeot 308 SW: Au revoir

  • We mark the spacious Peugeot’s departure from the Parkers fleet
  • Spaciousness and comfort are the 308 SW’s standout features
  • Diesel economy hasn’t wowed us; we’d opt for petrol here

Here we are then: five months, 8,113 miles and 775.63 litres of diesel (at a cost of £946.36) later, we’ve bade farewell to our long-term Peugeot 308 Feline BlueHDi 150.

Are we looking back fondly or is the capacious Peugeot a car we couldn’t confidently recommend?

One thing is beyond doubt – the appeal of that 660-litre boot is a strong one. No other car in this class, including Skoda’s Octavia estate, can rival that amount of boot space with five seats in use. Yes, the Octavia and Honda’s Civic Tourer both trump it with the seats down but there’s a strong argument that if you’re buying an estate as an out-and-out workhorse you’ll probably buy a larger one anyway.

Accessing the boot is simple too, thanks to some careful consideration by the 308 SW’s design team. The aperture is reasonably square, not tapering inwards too severely as it nears the roof, and on the odd occasion you do want to fold the seats it’s a doddle: pull the levers on the inside of the boot wall and they fold flat, with no need to faff around with the seat bases or the head restraints.

While packing the Peugeot to the gunnels with passengers and their possessions is an easy enough task for the 308 SW, space isn’t the only string to its bow.

Leaving Heathrow to head back to Lincolnshire at late o’clock at night felt all the calmer in the Peugeot. It’s a relaxed, long-legged cruiser that majors on comfort. Not only are the seats cosseting and supportive over a several-hundred-mile-long trip, the supple ride quality exploits it further, ironing out crumpled road surfaces with ease.

That calm aura is extended further by the seemingly uncluttered dashboard, dominated by the touchscreen for the infotainment system, sat-nav, trip computer and climate control. At night in particular, it looks less busy, with fewer ancillary dials and backlit controls to distract you. The sat-nav function proved to be almost 100 percent reliable (I was only sent down a dead end once, but Brighton’s continuing roadworks were maybe partly responsible) and it feels intuitive to use, especially after years of becoming accustomed to touchscreen smartphones and tablets. One man’s iPhone is another man’s Blackberry of course, and I can empathise to a degree with those who lament the lack of dedicated knobs for the climate control.

Less effective are some of the scrolling menus, such as switching between DAB radio stations – sometimes a firm stroke prompts it only to the next channel, while at others a feather-light touch whizzes it all the way from BBC Radio 4 to Yankee Hits. Updating the system with a little haptic feedback to confirm the selection of functions, in addition to the electronic beeps, as well as smoothing out the screen transitions would be welcome.

When our Peugeot arrived, Feline was the flagship trim level in the 308 SW hierarchy, although in the past few months it’s been replaced by the similarly-equipped GT Line, while the sportier GT sits atop the range. It wants for little in terms of kit, but the stand-out features are the ‘Cielo’ fixed glass roof, letting light flood the interior however gloomy the weather, and keyless entry and locking. When it’s hammering down with rain and your arms are loaded with shopping, being able to extend a couple of fingers to tug on the handle before diving into the dry, warm cabin is the best feeling in the world. For that brief moment, at least.

So, would we recommend the Peugeot 308 SW for those looking for a spacious, comfortable family-friendly estate?

Yes... although there’s a caveat.

Think very carefully before choosing which engine to go for. Too many people automatically assume they need a diesel when the reality is they don’t cover significant enough mileage each year, or their journeys are shorter and low-speed, not allowing the diesel motor’s inherent efficiencies to shine.

The fact remains that over the five months it’s been in our hands, the Peugeot has averaged 47.6mpg. While that’s hardly shabby it is conspicuously shy of the 70.6mpg official claim for this 2-litre BlueHDi 150 engine when paired with the six-speed manual gearbox.

Due to different driving styles affecting overall fuel efficiency, compounded with regional fluctuations in pump prices, there’s no definitive answer to the question of ‘how many miles do I need to travel before a diesel pays for itself?’ But to give you a steer, based on average UK fuel prices at the end of February 2015, using the official fuel consumption claims for the BlueHDi 150 diesel engine and the e-THP 130 petrol motor, you’d spend just £152 more over 12 months and 20,000 miles if you went for the petrol.

Consider if you kept the car for three years and covered 60,000 miles, that would come out at £456 – still £1,594 short of the £2,050 price differential between the purchase prices of the petrol and diesel versions of the current 308 SW GT Line.

Plus, from our own experience of that three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol engine in our previous long-term 308 hatchback, we know it to be sweet, smooth revving and refined.

So, while we can recommend the Peugeot 308 SW we’d have ours with the e-THP motor instead of the BlueHDi. Unless you’re intending to cover interstellar mileages each year, the petrol’s the one to go for.

Then again, if you want to explore deep space, simply open the tailgate...

Total mileage: 10,570 miles (started at 2,457)

Average mpg: 47.6mpg