It seems the whole world now wants to drive a sports utility vehicle and estate cars are so yesterday?

While it might appear that way, Peugeot, above all car makers, knows the enduring appeal of a classy, compact estate car.

Ever since the arrival of the 304 almost half a century ago, every generation of the 300 series has included a successful estate version – and the 308 SW is living proof that there is plenty of sparkle left in a bigger and more versatile version of a hit hatchback.

Based on the award-winning 308 the sleek and slender SW, that starts at about £19,500, offers more space and flexibility without sacrificing any of the taut, sharp-handling qualities of its smaller sibling.

Estate cars are all about space and the 308 SW, despite its compact external dimensions, has interior room in bucket loads.

The boot aperture has a width of up to 106cm and a length to the rear seat backs of 107cm, with minimal wheel arch intrusion and a low load sill. All great for loads of luggage.

The boot below the tonneau cover is already seriously spacious, with another 70 litres of storage under the floor, but flip down the rear seats using levers on the sides of the boot and a van-like carrying capacity opens up.

Thanks to the automatic lowering of the rear seat cushions, the result is a flat floor and 1,660 litres (more than 58 cu ft) of luggage space.

Movable/removable dividers can be fixed in various positions to create security for loads, while an elastic strap allows smaller objects to be held in place. Storage is provided for the luggage cover and the removable lashing hooks under the boot floor.

If all this makes the car sound boringly unexciting then think again. Underpinning this versatile load carrier is a cracking lightweight chassis with a low centre of gravity that contributes to a superb driving experience.

The six-speed manual test model, in lavishly equipped GT Line specification, was fitted with a 2.0-litre, 150 horsepower, turbodiesel engine, one of a wide range of diesel and petrol options on offer.

The interior is delightfully uncluttered, thanks mainly to the 9.7-inch touchscreen that uses just seven buttons to operate air-conditioning, driving assistance systems, multimedia, navigation, telephone and vehicle settings.

To add to the feeling of spaciousness in the cabin, the test car came with a huge glass panoramic roof, complete with an electric blind.

Technology is a key selling point and as on the hatchback, a ‘driver assistance pack’ is available, using radar at the front of the car for the operation of three systems – dynamic cruise control, that can maintain and automatically adjust the speed of the car according to the speed of the vehicle ahead; emergency collision alert system: a visual and audible warning is given to the driver to brake to avoid a collision and an emergency collision braking system, that applies the brakes automatically to avoid an impact or reduce its consequences.

Blind spot monitoring, electric parking brake, reversing camera, park assist and keyless entry/start are also available.

Also on offer is a driver sport pack that provides firmer and more responsive power steering, more response from the accelerator pedal, engine and gearbox, and a sportier engine sound in the cabin.

LED technology – 31 per headlamp – is fitted as standard on the upper trim levels and at the rear the lamps flow round from the sides, as on the hatchback, using up to 48 LEDs to provide a distinctive look at night.

Peugeot says the main customers for estates are working couples, with or without children, who cover high mileages and demand versatility, without having to make any sacrifices in comfort, driving enjoyment and style. They won’t be disappointed.

Auto facts

Model: Peugeot 308 SW GT Line BlueHDi 150

Price: £25,390

Insurance group: 27E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 72.4mpg

Top speed: 130mph

Length: 458.5cm/180.5in

Width: 180.4cm/71in

Luggage capacity: 23.3 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 11.7 gallons/53 litres

CO2 emissions: 102g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 100,000 miles