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Can the 308 differentiate itself from its sister models?
16in alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, power door mirrors, climate control, DAB radio.
180hp 1.6, 225hp 1.6
Active Premium, Allure Premium, GT, GT Premium
We already drove the 180hp plug-in hybrid hatchback version of the new Peugeot 308 at the international launch last year. We've since driven the similarly premium DS4 and more mainstream Vauxhall Astra, all of which share the same EMP2 modular platform. With the 308 now hitting UK shores, with added SW estate versions, it's the perfect time to take another look at the new mid-size Peugeot.
Peugeot's latest design direction has resulted in some distinctive but attractive models - just look at the 208, 2008 and 508 for example. For the 308, it's more of the same, but perhaps more extreme. At the front, the nose is quite upright and dominated by the latest version of the family grille, vertical driving lights and sculpted bonnet. Side highlights include the blistered arches and lower cut out at the bottom of the doors. Move to the back, and the distinctive, high-set rear lights, which split across the boot, are the standout design feature of the SW's upright rear.
Inside, like all other modern Peugeot models, the 308 gets the latest versions of Peugeot's divisive i-cockpit. This equals a tiny three-spoke steering wheel and tall dashboard, with the idea being drivers look over the top of the steering wheel to view at the digital instruments. To us, it's the best execution yet - but unless you're tall, you're still going to have to drop the driver's seat, possibly more than you'd like, to clearly see the instruments that are thankfully easy to read.
Other dashboard highlights include their latest infotainment and navigation, which on the 308 also equals useful shortcuts at the bottom of the screen. The driving position is comfortable and the material feels a touch more special than the Vauxhall, but the DS feels more special - although maybe this was how Stellantis planned it?
As with the 308 hatch, the sticking point in the interior of the 308 SW is the still average rear head and legroom. And although reduced thanks to all the plug-in hybrid kit, a 548-litre boot is still decent and it's a practical space.
There are 1.2-litre PureTech petrol and 1.5-litre Blue HDi diesel versions of the 308. But with an electric-only driving range of 37 miles for both the 180hp and 225hp versions, it is the two plug-in hybrid powertrains that are going to be of most interest to fleet buyers. Both combine a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 12.4kWh battery and 81kW electric motor. The Hybrid 180 we've got here is also eligible for a low 8% BIK rate. For a full charge using a 7.4kWh wall box charger, it will take just 3 hours and 50 minutes, while the optional 7.4kWh onboard charger reduces this to 1 hour and 55 minutes.
On the road, it's the refinement that hits you first, as the cabin remains impressively hushed. The way this 308 transitions smoothly between power units, and is still quiet when using the petrol engine, is notably good. Then we should talk about the ride, which as you'd expect feels remarkably similar to the Astra and DS4 - so think more refinement, although the 308 has a touch more polish than the others to mark it out. In fact, I would say having also driven the hatch on modest 17in wheels, the SW estate is even more comfortable - although all this refinement is at odds with the road noise from the wheels that affected all the models we drove.
Handling-wise, the steering is precise once you get used to the small steering wheel. There is a little body roll, but grip is excellent. There are 'Electric', 'Hybrid' and 'Sport' modes, and like the Astra and DS4, it starts and will stay in electric mode until the battery runs out. We moved it to 'Hybrid' as quickly as possible on our drive, to make the most of the EV range available, which was roughly in the mid-20s.
The only downsides with the drive were that 'Hybrid and 'Sport' modes were harder to differentiate between and there's the same snatchy brake feel we noticed when driving the Astra on occasions.
These and the practicality issues aside, the 308 SW in hybrid form looks sharp and drives well, and the low BIK figure puts it into serious contention against rivals if you are looking for a medium-sized estate.
Peugeot 308 SW 1.6 PHEV 180 Allure Premium
Residual value: 36.2%
Service, maintenance and repair: £1,877
Cost per mile: 43.70p
Fuel consumption: 281.1mpg
CO2 (BIK %): 25g/km (8%)
BIK 20/40% a month: £47/£95
Luggage capacity: 548 litres
Engine size/power: 1,598cc + 81kw electric motor/180hp