In-depth reviews

Peugeot 308 SW Hybrid review

Plug-in hybrid power helps the new Peugeot 308 offer refinement, efficiency and a good amount of on-board technology – however, rear cabin space falls short compared to rivals

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Interior quality
  • Infotainment
  • Refinement

Cons

  • Rear space
  • i-Cockpit driver’s display
  • Real-world electric range
ModelElectric rangeFuel economyCO2 emissions
Hybrid 18037-39 miles214-281mpg25-26g/km
Hybrid 22536-39 miles214-266mpg26g/km

The new Peugeot 308 is the latest addition to the extensive range of hatchbacks and estates available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Among its rivals are the Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon, Skoda Octavia, Renault Megane and Mercedes A-Class. For our first drive of the car, we tested the SW version, which goes toe-to-toe with the estate variants of the Leon, Octavia and Megane in particular.

As well as the two body types and several trim-level choices (more on those later), the plug-in 308 is also available with one of two powertrains. While both combine a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a 110bhp electric motor and 12.4kWh battery, the ‘Hybrid 180’ pumps out 178bhp while the top-spec ‘Hybrid 225’ produces 222bhp. The differences in CO2 emissions and electric range between them is negligible and Peugeot claims both can return well over 200mpg fuel economy.

However, while our Hybrid 225 GT estate was able to return impressive fuel economy on test, the dashboard display informed us we’d only be able to cover 23 miles solely on electric power with the battery fully charged – well short of Peugeot’s claimed figure. Where the 308 didn’t disappoint was in its power delivery – 0-62mph takes less than eight seconds, and while the transition from petrol to electric power is slightly clunky, the electric motor still provides a swell of torque and enough poke to keep up with most traffic.

Our advice would be to save your cash and get the Hybrid 180, as it doesn't really feel much slower than the 225 at all in real-world driving, and should be slightly more efficient. Regardless of which powertrain you go for, you get an eight-speed automatic transmission, with power sent to the front wheels only.

On the looks front, the 308 is certainly one of more stylish electrified family cars you can buy, and is the best finished car in the class, just trailing behind premium German alternatives. But you should expect no less, given that the entry-level 308 hatchback plug-in with 178bhp starts from £33,000, while the model we drove comes in at £40,000 – the same as a BMW 5 Series. At least you get 17-inch alloy wheels, all-round parking sensors, a reversing camera, and LED headlights on all plug-in 308s.

Inside, there's a much improved 10-inch central infotainment touchscreen as standard, plus Peugeot’s i-Cockpit driver’s display that uses 3D graphics, essentially layering two screens to give an impression of depth. It does look slick, but the setup might not be for everyone, as drivers of average height or shorter may find themselves having to sit higher up or position the steering wheel lower down than normal to fully see the display.

Cabin space also falls short of the class best, because while the wheelbase of the new 308 has been extended 55mm over the previous generation's, the Ford Focus still boasts more rear knee and headroom, while the Skoda Octavia’s interior is simply vast compared to all of its rivals. The 308 hatchback gets a 412-litre boot, while the estate version boasts 548 litres of space – however, there's no dedicated space for storing the charging cable.

Talking of charging, the 12.4kWh battery in the 308 is by no means the largest fitted to a modern plug-in hybrid – Volvo’s electrified cars like the S60, for example, use an 18.8kWh setup. However, one benefit of this is the 308 doesn’t take too long to charge: the standard 3.6kW on-board charger allows you to top up the battery from a home wallbox in three and a half hours. Go for the optional 7.4kW on-board charger and that drops to just under two hours. 

Despite its smaller battery, however, the plug-in 308 is still heavier than many purely petrol or diesel-powered models, with the additional weight making it feel slightly sluggish in corners. But the electrified Peugeot still handles well enough, and refinement overall is great.

Plus, with CO2 emissions as low as 25g/km, the 308 PHEV sits in the 11% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax band in the current financial year, making it ideal for company-car drivers looking for a slightly more stylish alternative to the typical Golf or Focus. Or, if you’re not tempted by the current crop of plug-in hybrid SUVs, the estate version of the plug-in 308 may serve you well.

Overall, while it can’t quite match its rivals when it comes to rear passenger room, the plug-in hybrid Peugeot 308 retains many of the previous generations’ strengths, especially interior design and quality, and it drives well, too.

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