Not as good as some rivals but it's generally fine and makes a quiet enough motorway cruiser
Smart, but dashboard could be easier to use on versions with more equipment (and buttons)
Decent provision and good Euro NCAP crash test results, but optional seats don't get airbags
Feels solid but has only average reliability record
Not masses of passenger space but three individual rear seats make 308 SW very practical
Entry-level trim is pretty well equipped, but mid-range Active cars stand out
The Peugeot 308 SW is decent enough to drive: it feels secure and composed on bends and turns, and the 110bhp 1.6 diesel makes the car pick up speed smoothly and quickly even from low revs, while offering excellent fuel economy. However, the stiff suspension makes the 308 SW feel slightly jiggly on all but the smoothest roads, and despite the car's good body control it still feels slightly cumbersome. The cabin is generally quiet, although the 118bhp 1.6 petrol becomes a bit vocal when revved. There are seven engines available in total, from a 97bhp 1.4 petrol to a 161bhp 2.0 diesel.
The cabin is smart and well built, with plenty of soft-touch surfaces. There's plenty of adjustment for both the steering wheel and front seats but they're both aligned too far to the left so getting comfortable isn't as easy as it should be. Another problem is that the car's rear pillars block your view at angled junctions, and on the best-equipped models some of the switches are too small to use easily. Rear legroom is a little tight but the boot is huge; in fact, it's big enough to take two extra seats as a cost option (around £500 for the pair) in the upper two trim levels, although these are small so only useful for children, and they don't fold into the floor when not in use so you'll sacrifice a considerable amount of boot space. It's also worth bearing in mind that you need to tumble forward the outer seats in the middle row to give access to the rear, which will mean removing any child seats fitted here. The upper two trims also replace the traditional rear seats seats (which are split 60:40) with three separate seats that individually slide, recline and fold, and because they're the same decent size they also make it possible to fit three child seats in a row (the seats each have Isofix points, too), though this does depend on the exact models of child seat that you have. Entry-level Access trim is fairly well equipped even if it doesn't get the three separate seats: it comes with air-conditioning, four electric windows, a CD player, Bluetooth and remote central locking. Active, however, adds the separate seats plus cruise control, alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, sat nav and a panoramic glass roof that spans the length of the cabin. Allure cars get front and rear parking sensors, an alarm, bigger alloys and some aesthetic upgrades including part-leather upholstery. There are plenty of family-friendly details as standard, including wide door openings, a light tailgate that's easy to open and close, and plenty of places to store drinks and clutter.
Peugeots have been criticised for their reliability in the past, and the brand didn't do too well in the 2013 JD Power ownership survey; the 308 in particular was rated as only 'average' for mechanical reliability. Still, every model has stability control and six airbags (including curtain bags that include the windows for the main rear seats, though not for the optional extra pair), and it's reassuring to know that the hatchback scored the maximum five stars in crash tests by Euro NCAP, with 82 percent for adult safety and 81% for children.
Many Peugeot 308 SWs will be sold as company cars, so the car is priced to attract interest in this highly competitive sector, with some generous discounts available from dealers. Running costs, especially for the diesel models, are generally low, too. Re-sale values tend to be weak, but this can be good news if you're looking to buy used, and makes the 308 SW a particularly affordable way to get a big boot, three child seats in a row and the option of seven seats when you need them.