Peugeot 308 SW 2012 Review

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.

Pros

  • Smooth and quiet
  • Practical
  • Seven seats in a proper station wagon!

Cons

  • Design (both interior and exterior) could use some improvement

Price: $45,990 (base model SW); $55,990 as tested

Specifications

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”

 

BRAKES

Front ventilated with sliding calipers 283 x 26 mm

Rear solid discs

249 x 9 mm

 

SUSPENSION

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

 

DIMENSIONS

Length (mm): 4500

Width (mm) excl mirrors: 1815

Height (mm): 1555

Wheelbase: 2708

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

Combined l/100km

6.7

Emission of CO2 by weight (g/km) 174

Emission Control

EURO 5

 

SAFETY FEATURES

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

Bluetooth

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

Athermic windscreen

Accoustic laminated front window screen

Auto headlamps

Front & rear fog lights

Rain sensitive wipers with auto lights

Intermittent rear wash/wipe

Cielo panoramic glass roof

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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