Peugeot introduced the new 308 SW on Tuesday in an announcement that was altogether unremarkable. The 308 SW would come in hybrid, gas, and diesel versions; the 308 SW was designed to be very aerodynamic; and there is a motorized trunk. Still, I am jealous.
Because it wasn’t too long ago in the U.S. that you could buy a car like the 308 SW: a smallish, sensible wagon that is good for everyday tasks. It’s true that there is still the Subaru Forester and the Mini Clubman; on the luxury side, meanwhile, there is still the Audi A4 Allroad and the Volvo V60 and the Mercedes E-Class Wagon. But these kinds of cars are dropping like flies, and have been for awhile.
This isn’t the fault of automakers, since they sell what is profitable. It is also not the fault of consumers, since consumer taste is fickle and informed by marketing and what’s available. We can, however, blame an American regulatory framework that incentivizes big trucks. Allow yourself to imagine a different system, though, one that incentivizes smaller cars and better fuel efficiency, a world where it is still very profitable for automakers to sell reasonably-sized cars.
I am speaking, of course, of places like Europe and East Asia, and, before you tell me that America is too dumb to do that, let’s wind back the clock to 2008 when the price of gas was sky high, the Toyota Prius was the 10th-best-selling car in America, and Hummer was on its way out. Back then, the idea that anyone wanted a big SUV was faintly ridiculous.
Then the price of gas went down, and then there was Obama-era CAFE fuel economy standards, which incentivized trucks with bigger footprints because that meant lower fuel economy requirements. That was the only permission automakers needed, and we have been descending ever since.
Which brings me back to the Peugeot 308 SW, which Peugeot says has nice driver’s seat setup.
Top of the range and technological, the new PEUGEOT 308 SW, just like the new PEUGEOT 308, comes with a new and improved PEUGEOT i-Cockpit®. A totally new experience with more ergonomics, design, driving pleasure, quality and connectivity:
A new compact steering wheel equipped with integrated controls and which can be heated,
A 3-dimensional digital headset at eye level with a 10-inch digital display,
An innovative 10-inch high-definition central touchscreen with the new PEUGEOT i-Connect® Advanced, an intuitive and connected infotainment system, identical to a smartphone environment.
The new i-toggles replace the physical climate control panel. Each i-toggle button is fully configurable, and is a shortcut to a specific function on the central screen.
Connectivity with four USB C sockets, wireless mirroring and the ability to connect two phones via Bluetooth at the same time.
And also semi-autonomous features and various powertrains:
The new PEUGEOT 308 SW has the latest generation of semi-autonomous driving aids, for even greater safety, with the Drive Assist 2.0 pack (available at the end of the year). It consists of adaptive cruise control with Stop and Go function (EAT8 automatic gearbox) and lane departure warning, and adds three new features available on dual carriageways: semi-automatic lane change, early speed recommendation and curve speed adaptation.
The new PEUGEOT 308 SW comes in several types of engine, rechargeable hybrids (HYBRID 225 e-EAT8, HYBRID 180 e-EAT8), petrol versions (PureTech 110 S&S BVM6, PureTech 130 S&S BVM6 and PureTech 130 S&S EAT8) and diesel versions (BlueHdi 130 S&S BVM6 and BlueHdi 130 S&S EAT8).
As I said: Almost completely unremarkable, but very practical, two things we don’t have nearly enough of in the American car market. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. Imagine, for example, if Ford today nonchalantly announced that it had a new Focus wagon. Imagine if regulations incentivized small cars. If we know anything about automakers, we know they would adapt pretty quickly.