Peugeot 308 SW: Practically Speaking

  • Cavernous boot boasts clever, flexible touches
  • Cabin remains quiet and refined in ‘van mode’
  • Are there cracks developing in its reliability?

My recent exercise of introducing the Parkers long-term Peugeot 308 SW to a selection of estate car-driving friends made me realise that I’ve barely taken advantage of its class-leading boot capacity.

As a driver of several estates and MPVs (well, they’re like tall estates aren’t they?) over the years, I’ve always taken the opportunity to fill all the available non-passenger space with all sorts of paraphernalia I find about the house.

Whether it was a trip to the local recycling centre (née tip) or setting up a stall at an autojumble selling old car magazines, my estates worked for their supper. This 308 SW’s had it cushy by comparison.

It’s not just the Peugeot’s 660-litre seats-up capacity that impresses. Nor is it the near-the-top-of-the-class 1,660-litre seats-down load volume, or even its ability to transport around up to 655kg worth of people and stuff – it’s the clever ways in which it does it all.

That ‘660’ figure is taken up to the ‘window line’, or rather in the 308 SW’s case, slightly higher than the window line to the height of the retractable load cover.

Being critical, other manufacturers’ covers feel a little more substantial and recoil with greater satisfaction, but the Peugeot’s is nevertheless fit for purpose. It doesn’t rattle around when on the move and the tracks its lugs sit in, running along the length of the upper boot panels, ensure it doesn’t turn all maverick and pop out mid-drive either.

Removing it’s a simple task, twisting the mounting points upward to release it, before storing it diagonally under the hinged boot floor.

Fitting a luggage net element to the luggage cover that latches to points in the ceiling would be a sensible addition for future models.

Still, with the seats up, you’ve got the moveable lashing points that run along rails, an elasticated strap to hold slender items against the boot side and a couple of bins either side with removable half-height plastic outers, allowing you to fit wider items into the boot if needs be.

You’ll spot in the photos there’s only one boot light, on the left-hand side. Its illumination’s sufficient at night until you have something at that side of the boot, after which it becomes as bright as a coal hole in there. One either side would remedy this.

For long, slender loads, such as skis or lengths of timber, but when you still need to carry four passengers in comfort, the load-through hatch behind the rear centre armrest comes in handy. Lower the armrest, release the lever and the plastic panel flaps down, simply clicking back into place when you return it to its original position.

You can still carry four passengers when you fold the smaller portion of the rear seat behind the driver. There’s a push button on top of the seat, next to the head rest but it can also be lowered using a release handle on the corresponding side of the boot.

There’s no need to faff around removing the head rest if it’s in a low position, while the seat base sinks down (Peugeot calls this Magic Flat), giving enough clearance for the loadspace to remain horizontal.

Folding the larger portion of the seat works in exactly the same way, combining the two is when the 1,660-litre maximum capacity’s achieved.

All I need now is something larger than a GoPro camera mount to check out its roominess.

Positively, the 308 SW remains a quiet, refined cruiser when driven in ‘van mode’, the calm only slightly broken by the squeak of leather rubbing against leather where the seats were folded, and I can live with that.

It’s been pleasing to report on how reliable the Peugeot’s proven to be but since my last update a couple of gripes have emerged.

One Monday morning commute was blighted by a one-off electronics glitch: the cruise control and automatic low-speed braking function stopped working, while the climate control turned itself up to full heat and fan speed. Using the old IT mantra of turning it off and back on again, I pulled over and tried the trick on the 308 – lo and behold it worked and a fortnight on it’s not offered to repeat the malady.

More frustration arose a week later: minus six degrees Celsius outside, and 4:30am for a run down to Heathrow. I opened the boot to load in my case and the plastic trim panel on the inside of the tailgate fell on the floor. Whether the cold had loosened it or a failed fastener made it let go, I’m not sure, but it’s reattachment requires an ‘O’ clip replacing to be properly secure.

Soon it’ll be time to bid goodbye to the Peugeot before my next long-termer arrives – check back soon for the final instalment and see whether we’d recommend the 308 SW as a car to buy.

Total mileage: 8,669 miles (started at 2,457)

Average mpg: 47.3mpg