First Drive: Is the new Peugeot e-308 SW an EV with one eye on practicality?
The new SW expands on the space of the regular electric e-308. What does it bring to the table? Jack Evans finds out.
What is it?
If you’re after a battery-powered estate car, there aren’t too many choices out there. At the entry level of the market, you’ve got the MG5, while right up the top there’s the expensive Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo. But what if you want something in the middle? Well, Peugeot might have the answer with the new e-308 SW.
It builds on the regular hatchback e-308 but adds in a decent slug more boot space which could help make it a more viable option for drivers who need a little extra space from their new car. Fortunately, it’s still got all of the latest technology and features that we’ve found in the ‘regular’ e-308, so it could prove to be the ideal everyday EV – so we’ve been driving it to find out.
As you might expect, this estate version of the 308 is all about practicality. A slightly longer wheelbase means that the 308’s boot space has been increased to 548 litres with the seats in place. It’s more than the 479 litres you’ll find in the MG5, in fact, and can be increased up to 1,574 litres if you fold down the rear seats. It’s less, however, than the boot space you’d get from a petrol or diesel 308 SW, mind you; in that car there are 608 litres on offer with the seats in place.
Elsewhere, we’ve got a range of useful features such as Peugeot’s latest i-Cockpit system, which brings a compact steering wheel and new 3D digital dials which can be configured at the touch of a button.
What’s under the bonnet?
There’s a 51kWh battery at the heart of the e-308 SW, bringing a range of 255 miles from a charge. It’s not the longest of ranges – particularly compared with long-distance models like the Tesla Model Y or BMW i5 – but a smaller battery means lower weight and improved efficiency. Linked to a 154bhp electric motor, this setup can power the e-308 SW from 0-60mph in 9.6 seconds and onwards to a top speed of 106mph.
It’s got a maximum charge rate of 100kW, too, which means a 20 to 80 per cent charge could be conducted in 28 minutes. Plus, with an 11kW onboard charger, hooking the e-308 up to a 7.4kW home charger will see a full charge finished in seven hours and 20 minutes, so more than quick enough for an overnight fill-up.
What’s it like to drive?
Peugeot has taken a more comfort-focused approach with its latest electric vehicles, shunning the trend for overly powerful EVs in favour of models which deliver a more refined, easy-going experience. That’s certainly the story with the e-308 SW as with well-judged suspension which soaks up lumps and bumps, it’s a car which feels reassuringly comfortable. Coupled with the steady acceleration you’ve got a setup which feels far more ‘normal’ than other electric vehicles.
There are no quirky acceleration ‘noises’ piped in, either, while the light steering gives the e-308 enough agility to make around-town driving a breeze. A slight increase in wheelbase over the hatchback version seems to have only boosted the 308’s comfort levels and the isolation of outside noises is really impressive – this is one really quiet electric vehicle. Even at speed, both wind and road sounds are kept to a minimum and this helps to make the whole driving experience very relaxing.
How does it look?
We’d argue that Peugeot is on something of a roll when it comes to the look of its latest cars. It feels like the French firm has found its verve once again, creating cars that stand out from the crowd without being too chintzy. The e-308 SW, being a swept-back estate, looks even more dramatic than the hatch version in our eyes, particularly in the more distinctive colours such as blue and green which Peugeot offers within the 308’s available colour palette.
You’ve also got Peugeot’s latest ‘claw’ headlights which have been put to striking effect across the entire range, while the company’s new ‘shield’ logo is at the front and rear too. It’s all being used in an effort to push the brand into a more premium sector.
What’s it like inside?
That premium feel continues inside, in fact, with plenty of good materials being used throughout the e-308 SW’s interior. There are some scratchier plastics to be found lower down the cabin, but these are in the areas which often get scuffed or marked by shoes, so it’s a good idea to have harder-wearing materials down here. The seats in our GT-specification car were comfortable, too, though oddly incorporated electric controls for height but manual adjustment to slide forward and back.
We’ve already mentioned the e-308 SW’s well-sized boot, while those in the rear car are given a decent amount of space though headroom might feel a bit of a pinch for taller occupants. The entire cabin can seem a bit dark, mind you, with the black seats and black trim not giving the e-308 SW’s interior an overly airy feel.
What’s the spec like?
We’ve yet to be given full pricing for the e-308 SW, but we have it on good authority that you can expect a £1,000 to £1,500 premium over the equivalent e-308 hatch. That would put it in the area of £41,000, which is quite a chunk of cash for a car with this kind of range. Having said that, there’s plenty of equipment on offer including a large main screen with customisable ‘i-toggles’ underneath. These allow you to program in your most-used functions so they’re easy to access as and when you need them.
The i-Cockpit system continues to be a bone of contention for this tester, however. The compact steering wheel means, at our seat height, the steering wheel needs to be lowered more than comfortably in order to see the main information dials. Put it where we’d like it and the dials would be completely obscured – it’s a slightly frustrating issue and one which is present on all Peugeots. However, it is entirely dependent on your height – so make sure you test-drive one to see how it works for you.
One of the best aspects of the e-308 SW is how ‘normal’ it feels. If you’re new to electric vehicles and yet to make the jump, this could be one of the best cars for the job as the steering, ride and handling all feel wonderfully intuitive. There’s a good amount of range, too, while charging speeds are more than enough to get along with day-to-day.
We’d be choosing this SW over the regular hatch, too. If, as Peugeot alludes to, it’ll cost around £1,500 more then why not have the extra space? The extra length on the wheelbase seems to add an extra degree of comfort to the ride quality, making the e-308 SW a very cossetting way of getting around.