Both my kids aged 14 & 17 have missed Top Gear & in particular Jeremy Clarkson since the show was abandoned mid-series in March this year. I loved the show too & rarely if ever did anything but snigger at the fifth form boys antics. However, a few weeks ago Top Gear ran a sketch on Peugeot, slating their recent models as awful. To a certain extent they were correct, because the Peugeot models on offer in the UK from the the mid 1990’s until 2010, really weren’t very good. But, since the new 508 came out in 2010, the Peugeot range has had a renaissance both in it’s build quality & it’s driveability with the 308 winning European Car of the Year in 2014 being the icing on the cake.
To add extra appeal to the 308 range, Peugeot launched an ‘estate’ version of the 308 in 2014 the 308 SW. Twelve months on & they have added a new top of the range model to the SW line up, the GT, which ostensibly replaces the Feline model in the SW model line up .From the outside, the GT gets a sportier look than the Feline model it replaces, with lowered suspension of 7mm up front, 10mm at the back , plus a bodykit & a rear diffuser with twin exhausts, which add to the sporty looks.
With a wheelbase that’s 110mm longer than the 308 hatch creating more room inside, the SW is 332mm longer as a whole, the main reason for opting for the SW over the 308 hatch is space, because the SW has plenty with a 660-litre boot that’s the biggest in the class. The heavy boot lid opens to reveal a flat load area which includes load rails in the floor as well as seat-folding levers in the boot sides. The cover can be removed & stored underneath & with the rear seats folded down the boot offers a total capacity of 1775 litres, making the SW great for those who need that extra space.
It goes without saying that the GT test car I drove, which sits at the the top of the range in the 308 SW, above the confusingly named GT Line model, comes well equipped with 18″ alloys, sequential LED direction indicators,aluminium style pedals & door sills, LED daytime running lights, electric front windows, front fogs, programmable cruise control with speed limiter, dual zone air-con, rear parking sensors, GT style leather steering wheel with red stitching & GT badge, leather gear stick, automatic headlights with follow-me-home function wipers, a 9.7″ multi-function touchscreen infotainment system, DAB, SatNav, Bluetooth & a USB input. I also benefitted from a full length glass roof which was great at making the cabin brighter, especially as the interior is all black. The SW is also equipped with Peugeots small steering wheel which really shines in this quicker version..
Like all new Peugeots & to the chagrin of Messrs Clarkson & May well built too, with high-quality plastics and subtle metal trim. The GT also features comfortable seats back & front & room at a push for five .The minimal centre console has only a handful of buttons, as all of the major functions are on the 9.7-inch touchscreen. This has aesthetic benefits but it will take a new owner a couple of weeks to digest how to work with it properly. To give you some idea of how I got on with it, in my seven days in the SW, I found the DAB radio easy, the SatNav also easy, the Bluetooth phone easy to connect & to use. It’s really just the heating/climate controls, which can only be controlled via the touch screen, that are a little fiddly to use & I can’t help but think Peugeot & Citroen should have left this function on the dashboard.
Again like the 308 hatch, there’s a massive return to form with this Peugeots handling & it’s a really fun car to drive whether around town or up & down the motorway. One of the reasons for this, is that the new Peugeot 308 SW is lighter than most of its mainstream rivals thanks to a drastic weight saving scheme during its design. In fact the SW is 140kgs lighter than the car it replaced, which is equivalent to the weight of two adult men. Combine this with a body that has been shaped to be more aerodynamic than before & hey presto the new SW drives more like the old 306 estate with Porsche like handling around tight corners adding to it’s appeal. There are flappy paddles which I never use, opting instead for the automatic six-speed gear box, which I really liked. There is a ‘Sport’ button one can use to enhance performance, but I found the GT plenty of fun in normal mode hears why.
Even though this GT model is built to thrill, with a 0-62 mph time of 8.6 seconds & a top speed of 135 mph, it offers the company car driver exceptional fuel economy of 68.9mpg on the combined, with emissions of 107g/km. In my real world test the GT managed to give me a figure of 46.8 mpg which for my style of driving & with an auto-box was very impressive. Company car drivers take note. If you want the SW GT it is only available in diesel format, with 1997cc on offer from the BlueHDi 180 engine. A sensible decision from Peugeot.
Are there any negatives ? Not really. Perhaps it’s won’t be quite fast enough, or sexy enough look at for some. Otherwise, the GT continues to point Peugeot in an upward direction, with all of it’s current models a massive improvement on what came before. Perhaps the new ‘Top Gear’ if it ever happens would like to put the record straight by driving some of Peugeots new models, because ethyl really are quite good.
A giant hamster 4/5.