The Peugeot 308 Hatchback, the 2014 European Car of the Year, has now been joined by the five door, five seater SW estate with prices ranging from £16,845 and going up to £25,145.
The 308 is currently Peugeot’s third best selling model range with around 19,500 annual sales, just behind the 107/108 City Cars and 208/2008 Supermini and compact SUV. Peugeot expect the 308 SW estates to sell around 4,500 units in the UK in a full year as opposed to the 15,000 for the Hatchback. In the UK’s C-segment on average 10% of sales traditionally go to estate cars. But the number is increasing as the buyer’s profile becomes younger hence Peugeot’s forecast that their SW will have a higher percentage of overall 308 sales. Fleet and business users are expected to take up around 1,400 of UK 308 SW sales in a full year.
According to Steve Fahey, Public Relations Manager for Peugeot in the UK the customers are mainly working couples, with or without children, who use their vehicles intensively and cover the highest mileage in the segment. These new-age customers require versatility from their transport without having to make sacrifices in comfort, driving enjoyment and without compromise in the styling of their vehicles.
In my experience younger and older customers today also prefer the higher status of an estate car image over the relatively commonplace hatchback. To match both the requirements of retail and fleet/business buyers the 308 SW comes with a wide range of Euro VI compliant petrol and diesel engine option. Although diesel power is still the mainstay of the C-segment estate car sector, the arrival of modern small capacity turbocharged petrol engines is turning the tide towards petrol power. This is because new petrol engines offer impressive fuel economy, responsive performance, low CO2 and NOx emissions, generally they are cheaper to buy than diesel units and petrol as a fuel is cheaper per litre than diesel.
At launch the 308 SW sees the first introduction of Peugeot’s new PureTech 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine available with two power outputs – 110bhp and 130bhp. Both have stop-start as standard and both offer CO2 emissions of 109g/km but that can vary depending on wheel size and the spec level chosen. For the 109g/km figure VED road tax is £0 cost for the First Year rate and then just £20 for Year Two onwards. Company car drivers will pay 14% Benefit-in-Kind tax. Officially fuel economy is 58.8mpg in the Combined Cycle for the 110bhp unit and 56.5mpg for the 130bhp engine. Top speed for the 110bhp engine is 117mph and zero to 62mph takes 13-seconds. For the 130bhp version the figures are 127mph and 12.1 seconds.
For those customers that want diesel-power there is the 1.6 HDi 92bhp, CO2 99g/km unit, the 1.6 e-HDi 115bhp 95g/km engine, the all-new 1.6 BlueHDi 120bhp with 85g/km of CO2 emissions and the 2.0-litre BlueHDi 150bhp unit with CO2 emissions between 105g/km for the manual transmission and 111g/km for the auto. The most popular version will be the new 1.6 BlueHDi 120bhp unit which has a 6-speed manual gearbox. The VED road tax for this low 85g/km unit is zero cost every year but company car drivers will still pay 14% Benefit-in-Kind tax because of the Government’s 3% loading on diesel powered vehicles over petrol ones.
In addition to these engine options there is the choice of Access, Active, Allure and Feline levels of specification but not all engines are available with all spec levels. Active is expected to be the most popular because of its impressive standard specification items. These prices start from £18,295 but equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, dual zone air conditioning, electric handbrake, rear parking sensors, leather covered gearlever and steering wheel, electric front and rear windows, automatic headlights and wipers, a 9.7-inch multifunction colour touchscreen and sat/nav. Other spec items carried over from the base Access level include cruise control, remote central locking, LED daytime running lights, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity. A panoramic glass roof with a blind is standard on the top Feline level of spec and a £500 option for Allure and Active versions. All levels of specification include a space-saver spare wheel as standard which is good news.
The other good news is that the 308 SW is a proper estate car, not just a five door Hatchback with an extended roofline. The lightweight Peugeot-Citroen EMP2 platform has been extended with a longer wheelbase to give more load space and a shade more rear legroom over the Hatchback versions although the legroom for rear passengers is not the estate’s strongest point. The rear seat headroom comes up short as well for six-footers and the headroom through the rear door frames is also tight. The good news is that with the rear folding seats in use the boot offers 660-litres of load space which includes 70-litres hidden under the load floor. Fold down the 60-40 split rear seats and the load space goes up to an impressive 1,660-litres. The ‘Magic Flat’ rear seats are easily lowered by using two levers accessible from the inside of the boot. Due to the automatic lowering of the rear seat cushions when the seat backs go down there is a completely flat load area floor and the low rear sill offers level access to the load bay.
Inside the front area is a handover from the 308 Hatchbacks, clutter-free controls, clean styling lines and good front visibility with the instruments clearly seen over the small diameter steering wheel. On the down-side the use of the touchscreen to operate the heater and air con controls and the sound system is time-consuming and not user friendly as it means looking at the screen rather than the road ahead.
The elongated wheelbase and revised suspension settings, because of the estate’s extra weight, generally give a composed flat ride rather than the sharp and agile handling you get with the VW Golf Estate for example. There is also some increase in road noise through the rear suspension and load area compared to the 308 Hatchback. None of these are an issue, it just puts the newcomer a little behind the standard set by the Golf equivalent.
Highlight of the pre-public launch for the Media was the first drive opportunity to try the new 1.2-litre, three cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. I have tried the same engine in its non-turbocharged in the equally new Peugeot 108 and that impressed because of its smoothness and power delivery but fell short of Ford’s award winning 1.0-litre three cylinder EcoBoost petrol units which are smoother and sound less ‘throaty’.
However adding a turbocharger to the Peugeot/Citroen 1.2-litre three-pot petrol unit has done wonders for the performance. For the 130bhp version it’s not the power output that is important in these down-sized modern three-cylinder units, it is the torque that matters from low rpm that provides the important driveability function. In this case 230Nm (173lb ft) of torque is delivered from 1,750rpm which is more or less the same as the new generation Ford or VW Group lower capacity, three cylinder petrol units.
Mated with a six speed manual gearbox this engine gives a wide powerband so acceleration is smooth and constant through its rpm range. The gearchange is slightly notchy and the sixth gear ratio is on the ‘long’ side to deliver the optimum fuel economy and low emission levels. It is more suited to open road cruising speeds than use on busy country B roads where fourth and fifth gear ratios felt more comfortable for the best power delivery response. Top speed is an impressive 127mph but the zero to 62mph time is still a lengthy 12.1 seconds but it felt faster than that. On a spritely drive around the winding roads of the North Cotswolds and Warwickshire our test car returned 36.6mpg, well down on the official 56.5mpg and as usual smaller engines have to work harder than traditional ‘fours’ so in reality they are less fuel efficient but the official figures, the ones that matter for taxation purposes, say the opposite.
Overall the SW is a worthwhile and impressive addition to the award winning Peugeot 308 range in a competitive but growing market sector. The new 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine does an impressive job in catching up with small capacity units from other manufacturers who have been downsizing their engines for some considerable time.
MILESTONES: Peugeot 308 SW 1.2 e-THP 130 Feline. Price: £22,095. Engine/transmission: 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder, turbocharged petrol with auto stop/start, 130bhp, 173lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual. Performance: 127mph, 0-62mph 12.1 seconds, 56.5mpg Combined Cycle ( 36.6mpg on test), CO2 115g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £30 per annum Year Two onwards, BIK company car tax 16%. Insurance group: 16E. Warranty: 3-years/unlimited mileage. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,585mm, W 1,563, H 1,472mm, boot/load space 660 to 1,660-litres, braked towing weight 1,200kg. For: Important addition to the 308 range, impressive sized boot and load area, easy to use folding rear seats, wide range of engines, spec levels, options and prices. Against: Limited leg and head room for rear seat passengers, fiddly operation of heater/air con and radio controls within the touchscreen system, road noise intrusion through the load area into the cabin, real life driving fuel consumption didn’t get close to the official figure. Miles better news agency