What do you do if your family needs more space than a saloon or hatchback offers and you don’t want an MPV? Simple really, the sensible choice is an estate, providing extra load space without all the baggage, both physical and metaphorical, of an MPV.
Peugeot’s latest offering is the Sport Wagon, or estate version of their 308, a car that has just won the European Car of the Year title.
Not only do you get extra load space, in this case over 600 litres with all the seats in use, the designers have taken the opportunity to lengthen the chassis, giving most of the extra space to rear seat passengers. This solves a little failing of the standard hatchback, which is a little skimpy on rear legroom.
The engines we tried on the launch were the 2.0 litre 150 bhp HDi diesel, coupled with a six speed auto and a very interesting, new 1.2 litre turbo petrol. The petrol unit comes with a very distinct engine note, that’s pleasingly throaty. All artificial, of course, the sound comes from the car’s speakers but it’s fun nonetheless. I want one for my own car.
There will also be a 1.6 litre diesel, which will probably become the best-seller, but don’t discount that petrol. Despite being a three cylinder unit it’s a willing motor and well up to the job of moving the 308 about at a decent pace.
The interior is identical to that of the hatchback, so you get the same minimalist dash, with minor controls being controlled by a large colour touch screen. The unusual, small steering wheel is also present, along with the high set instrument panel, which gives a kind of head up display. It’s a unique solution but one that works well. I still want to scream, though, every time I glimpse that tachometer that winds round in the wrong direction. Peugeot are still claiming they designed it that way deliberately. I don’t believe them for a second.
During our stay in Le Touquet, we had a brief tour of the Douvrin factory, which now makes the engines for the 308 range. Although it’s only ramping up production for now, it was an impressive facility that will shortly be turning out 53 engines per hour.
Quite a few of those will end up in the nose of a 308 and a significant and growing proportion will go into SW models. The market is beginning to wake up to the attractions of estates and demand is growing.
Final prices for the 308 SW haven’t yet been released and the car is expected to arrive in June. For a lot of families, it represents an ideal choice.