Until recently, it would have been the most natural thing in the world: a station wagon with a diesel engine. But when he wanted to kick off his best tunes, the high-torque, economical and well-designed diesel engine was pushed off the stage in the car. Twist and spin as you like: the latest form of diesel engines have reached a very high degree of perfection. It’s just no longer stylish, future-oriented and the focus of everyone talking about the future of cars. The reasons are known, the piezo ignition engine could not leave the image of the soot oil burner. And believe, whatever it is, hardly anyone wants anything about it anymore.
But is diesel really a discontinued model? In fact, a diesel car is usually a very nice companion. And the bad old spirits—lack of strength, unwillingness to start when it’s cold, noise, low running culture—all run out. In Sochaux (F) in particular, a great contribution was made. With the first small diesel in a passenger car in the 204 or with the famous XUD engine, like the same engine in the 205 that brought buyers to diesels in small cars in this country. Or with the introduction of the urea-injected soot filter, Peugeot’s invention was first installed in the 607 of 1997. Peugeot and diesel, that’s an old link. Although Mercedes could boast of having marketed the first diesel-powered car, Peugeot quickly became very active in this field. And the first diesel production vehicle in history? Of course, that also comes from the Lion from Sochaux, it’s a 403 Break from 1957. The 308 SW GT Blue HDI 130 is part of a long tradition, but it’s not the only one in the Peugeot model range. The big brother 508 SW is also available with the same drivetrain.
As a representative of the C segment, 308 SW shows a lot of independent characters. The front of the car takes on the sharp graphic of the headlights as on the larger 508, and yes, they look a little more aggressive. This is confirmed by almost the gigantic radiator grille, the times of the thin bars and subtle design elements are gone even in this class of cars – especially in Peugeot. The pronounced bulges of the wheel arches give the car a great deal of visual traction. In short, the 308 shows off a look that pleases, one that surprises some viewers favorably even for a Peugeot.
In terms of interior space, the Frenchman is a good average. Preferring form over space has long been no longer a question for modern leisure people since the shift from the classic French hangout for large families, merchants and artisans to the sporty wagon (SW). If you’re really looking for a versatile interior for people and goods, you’ll end up with this high ceiling combination today. The 308 SW offers 608 liters of load space under the windowsill. With the rear seat folded down, its volume is 1634 liters. This is too much. That puts the French meltdown in the middle of the competition from the Golf Variant to the Hyundai i30 Wagon. The 308 offers good room for the driver and front passenger, but there are some compromises that need to be made in the rear seats. But those who want more will find happiness in the larger 508.
Fine tuning inside
No doubt the 308 SW also uses Peugeot’s idea of the i-Cockpit. You quickly get used to looking over the little steering wheel at the instruments. Having regular keys or buttons for the most basic functions is fun. This includes, for example, air conditioning or such simple things as a knob for adjusting the radio volume, especially for the front passenger. Sitting in the leather-covered armchairs of the concept car, which is covered in nappa leather, is very comfortable. The front seats are built and configured according to the AGR (Healthy Back Campaign) guidelines. Subsidiary Opel Stellantis, where this directive first found its way into the automotive industry, sends its best regards. Convenience features are on the top of the line 308 SW, but there are many others, such as the electric tailgate. Unfortunately, in our test car, it tended to not always fully close, resulting in a message and sometimes the outlet and trunk lid being pressed manually. Air conditioning does not work completely without electric current, and you often run into manual interventions. Other than that, the integrated electronics, infotainment system, do a good job. The sound system from Focal in particular left a very positive impression thanks to its good sound – not because of its size, but because of the good reproduction of even complex sound experiences. However, the days of getting in and out quickly in the 308 SW are also over, or perhaps to put it the other way around: perhaps not the time for a Peugeot when all the functions can be easily accommodated and up and running at once. In one case this is particularly annoying, but he’ll talk more about that later.
performance is relative
Quite frankly: With 130 horsepower from the relatively small 1.5-liter diesel engine, Peugeot doesn’t seem to be powered by particularly large engines. The fact that power is also channeled through an eight-gear automatic torque converter promises some good at first, at least on paper. However, the reality is different: the diesel engine with its characteristics guarantees a smooth and easy driving style, and the automatic with its almost endless range of gear wheel pairs always provides adequate translations to keep the engine happy and making good progress. It provides a torque of 300 Nm, typical of diesel engines, from 1,750 revolutions, which means that it can really help in all situations. After filling, the width of the range reveals that this relatively small diesel is also a huge saver. More than 1,000 kilometers are promised. Indeed, this impressive figure is not far off, as our general balance confirms with a consumption of 5.9 liters per 100 km.
Equally satisfying: the engine does its job without much fuss, running quietly in the background over a wide range of engine revs. The real beating is only audible indoors under full load. The widely used equipment of Aisin operates with caution and goes unnoticed. Gear selection via a drive-by-wire via a small switch in the center console is precise enough, and the corresponding front or rear gear is always in the spot, thus an improvement over previously tested cars with the same Stellaantis group.
Landing gear details
Our test car with the GT package is a sports car, the 18-inch tires with a small tire cross-section look neat, and ride comfort – to put it that way – little compromised by the narrow rubber pad between the body and the road. However, the proportion of realistic diesel drivers that frequent is expected to be much higher than the proportion of sporty drivers with an emphasis on good looks. And they prefer to choose smaller rims with a corresponding increase in the cross-section of the tire and, accordingly, comfort. As shown, the 308 SW is on the comfort side. Holding it on the road as a classic station wagon is a blessing, too. The low sitting position is almost sporty. After several kilometers in the SUV, the difference becomes even more noticeable: nothing vibrates or shakes, the Frenchman rolls surprisingly round corners, looks well seated and can be positioned precisely with the steering on the road. This is somewhat unexpected, but this diesel station wagon actually provides a good part of the driving pleasure.
Technically, the chassis complies with the standard standard for Stellantis brands such as Peugeot, Citroën, DS Automobiles, Opel, etc. or the EMP platform used for it. In the front there are spring struts with specially attached steering knuckles – they are referred to as pseudo-MacPherson, because the spring strut does not have to rotate when steered with it – in the rear, all front-wheel drive models have a torsion-axle beam. 308 is always on the safe side. There’s no disaster to be feared even at full throttle, an impressive performance feat and somewhat a reminder of the days when French cars, famous for their high-running ability, were turned off by relatively weak engines. The only downside is the lane departure warning system. His biggest concern seems to be getting past the midfield. At the slightest signal, he pulls the car back to the right, so sometimes a counter-correction to the middle of the lane is necessary. Unfortunately, it takes getting down to playlists to stop the absurd.
But this is criticism at a high level. Among the many acclaimed, future-oriented innovations, the Peugeot 308 SW Blue HDI looks great. It’s simple, easy to use, humble in its claims, really beautiful and practical to use. In addition, Peugeot conveys solid value in the interior. Nothing is lukewarm or looks like it was created with a red pencil. So the 308 SW Blue HDI is definitely worth the money. In this regard, too, it occupies a good position compared to the competition. In the sum of all these characteristics, the 308 SW is undoubtedly timeless, provided you don’t slow down due to useless driving bans.
The test result
Overall score 77/100
More powerful than expected, but planted and economical – diesel surprises and convinces in the Peugeot 308.
Never overwhelmed by the performance offered, the GT looks sporty, but offers good uncompromising comfort and dynamic handling, even true driving pleasure.
There is enough room for the driver and front passenger, but it is naturally narrower in the rear. The luggage compartment volume is an average class. The material looks high quality and attractive.
The comprehensive assistance package ensures confidence, but the lane departure warning system is annoying with overly aggressive intrusions.
As for the performance offered by the diesel engine, the 308 SW Blue HDI isn’t a special offering, but it stands out from the crowd thanks to its design and price amid the competition.
Diesel still makes sense, especially when long distances and autonomy are an issue. Peugeot has surprised us with its fine manners and hardly a suitability for everyday use. Its economy allows you to exceed the price of diesel.
Our technical data and measured values for this model can be found in the print version and in the electronic sheet of AUTOMOBIL REVUE.