Sometimes it’s not practical or desirable to have an SUV because of parking, fuel economy and certain ‘social pressures’ meted out by people that pedal everywhere and grow courgettes. And you might be too fashion conscious to have an MPV/people mover. So what do you do with your 4 or 5 progeny when you want to take them to zoo?
This particular scenario is where 7-seat station wagons come into their own: if your life circumstances or beliefs prevent you from preventing life, there’s a fashionable, fuel-efficient, practical, environmentally friendly option waiting for you to take the keys, and it comes in the shape a Peugeot 308 SW.
But let’s get something clear: by ‘fashionable’ we don’t necessarily mean ‘pretty’. The Peugeot is not the best looker, even though in stretched form it’s certainly sleeker than its hatchback brothers, but it’s tidy from most angles and does carry a European badge and that means a lot in certain circles. It’s also a fact that the Peugeot of today looks a lot better than the Peugeot of three years ago – the design is moving in the right direction.
Fuel efficient it definitely is. Cruise quietly along the motorway at 100kph in the 2-litre turbodiesel and the 163 horses sip only 5 litres per hour. And with 340 torque monsters churning away, there’s some pep if you need to get moving. This is a nice improvement over the previous 308 SW we tested back in 2008.
Practical is its middle name. Seven seats ensure that you don’t have to leave anyone behind, and all the rear seats can be completely removed if you want a station wagon to transport DIY supplies on the weekend. The full cargo capability is 2149 litres. It’s also got lots of airbags and every type of emergency braking, stability, and traction control system you need to keep it on the black stuff and out of the trees.
Friendliness to the trees extends further, too. Peugeot’s HDi engines come with a particle emission filter (FAP). It’s a self-cleaning system which treats the noxious gases you usually get with an oil burner and leaves a trail of iridescent butterflies instead. OK, maybe not, but this is a good sized station wagon that produces 174g/km of CO2. Peugeot has shaved an average 25kg off its predecessor’s weight (across the range), and has made many incremental improvements such as using revised power steering to reduce the drain on the engine.
Driving the 308 SW was very pleasant. In fact, I can’t actually fault it (for what it’s supposed to be doing). I mean, this is a car that absolutely must be designed to prevent your offspring from becoming travel sick, because there’s nothing worse than having to stop every 15 minutes for green-faced children to exit the car and do what they need to to become pink-faced again. So it needs to be soft on the bumps, but without rolling in the corners. It does that very well. It also needs to be able to change up the six gears smoothly, something which the Porsche Tiptronic handles with aplomb.
The driving experience can be made all the more spacious by sliding the blind back from the panoramic glass roof. Adjust the dual climate control to your desired setting and it’s like having a convertible but without breathing in truck fumes and pollen (pollen is filtered out, so it’s good if you have a hay fever sufferer in the family).
There are plenty of other interior treats – Bluetooth for your phone, cruise control/speed limiter, six-speaker stereo, shopping bag hooks in the boot, extra 12V plugs and front and rear parking sensors.
I can’t think of much to say that’s negative. If you don’t need the third row of seats, they don’t fold flat into the floor like they do in the Peugeot 4007, so you will need to take them out and store them. I’ve been complaining about Peugeot dashboard design for years; it’s not much better and the stereo is fiddly to operate. You can’t fit water bottles in the cupholders, although you can in the doors (but they slide about). And certain angles from the front don’t do it justice at all. But that’s it – all fairly minor because there’s nothing flawed about the car.
Our test 308 SW came with a lot of options – ten grand to be precise. There was the $3000 satellite navigation (kind of expensive seeing as there are better-specced third-party options for much cheaper), the $4000 leather heated seats (very comfortable and supportive), xenon lights ($1500) and 18-inch wheels ($1500).
So do we end up with a crowd-pleaser; a mode of moderately luxuriant transport for your little princes and princesses? Yes, we do. The Peugeot can lay claim to having a smooth, unflustered demeanour in all occasions. The looks…well…they’re getting better every year.
- Smooth and quiet
- Seven seats in a proper station wagon!
- Design (both interior and exterior) could use some improvement
Price: $45,990 (base model SW); $55,990 as tested
2.0 litre, 16 valve, 4 cylinder, High pressure direct injection turbo diesel engine.
6 speed Tiptonic-System Porsche Automatic Transmission
Cubic Capacity (cc): 1997
Max Power kW (HP) @ rpm: 120 (163) @ 3750
Max Torque (Nm) @ rpm: 340 @ 2000
WHEELS AND TYRES
Size: 205/55 R17
Alloy Wheels: 17”
Front ventilated with sliding calipers 283 x 26 mm
Rear solid discs
249 x 9 mm
Front—Independent Pseudo McPherson strut with linked anti-roll bar
Rear—Deformable U-shaped cross member located by two arms and a hollow anti-roll bar
Length (mm): 4500
Width (mm) excl mirrors: 1815
Height (mm): 1555
Boot volume (seats in place to
parcel tray): 675
WEIGHTS AND CAPACITIES
Kerb weight (kg): 1678
Braked trailer towing weight (kg): 1200
Fuel Tank (l): 60
FUEL CONSUMPTION & EMISSIONS
Emission of CO2 by weight (g/km) 174
5 star Euro NCAP safety rating
6 airbags—driver, passenger front side & curtain
ABS (with EBFD & EBA)
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) (with ASR & CDS)
Rear 3-point seatbelts with pre-tensioning and load limiting front and rear seatbelts
Height adjustable front seatbelts
Isoﬁx on rear outer seats (child safety ﬁxing points)
Fuel cut off inertia switch
Collapsible steering column
Auto hazard warning lights
Wrap around front/rear head restraints
Remote control central locking with deadlocks
Rolling code transponder immobiliser
Visible VIN number
Security coded in-car entertainment
Auto-lock doors/boot over 10 km ( selectable)
Electric rear child door locks
COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
Cruise control with speed limiter
Speed related electric power assisted steering
Front and rear park aid
Electro chrome rearview mirror
Internal operated central door locking
Front and rear electric windows with anti-pinch
Electrically operated, heated and folding door mirrors
6-Speaker RD4 Radio / CD Player
Steering wheel mounted remote controls
Digital & Dual climate control airconditioning
Leather steering wheel
Combined active carbon/ pollen ﬁlter
Shopping bag hooks in boot and boot net
12V plug row 1, 12V plug boot
Storage drawers under front seat
60/40 split folding rear seats
Additional 2 seats in 3rd row
EXTERIOR LIGHTING & VISIBILITY
LED Day time running lights
Accoustic laminated front window screen
Front & rear fog lights
Rain sensitive wipers with auto lights
Intermittent rear wash/wipe
Cielo panoramic glass roof
Words and photos: Darren Cottingham