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Peugeot 508 SW road test report

SW

Peugeot has a long history of building superb estate cars and the new 508 SW does nothing but continue this tradition. It’s bigger than its predecessor, the 407, and offers a much improved drive too, so the 508 is a good deal more appealing overall. Is this enough to tempt private and business drivers away from the likes of the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat wagons is another matter.

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Peugeot 508

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Performance Performance - 4 stars

Two petrol engines come in 120- and 156bhp 1.6-litre forms for the 508 SW, but the real interest for this wagon will come from the range of diesel engines. There’s a simple 1.6-litre turbodiesel with five-speed manual gearbox that is the cheapest way into SW custodianship, performance is more adequate than brisk. This is even more the case with the same engine attached to Peugeot’s EGC (electronic gearbox control) automated manual. Yes, this gearbox helps lower emissions for cost-conscious company car drivers, but it blunts performance to the point of dullness. It also requires considerable concentration to drive the 508 smoothly with this gearbox, the driver having to anticipate gear changes or use the paddle shifters to make the best of it. There is also standard start-stop with this gearbox that comes into effect when the car drops below 5mph and the driver’s foot is not in the throttle. There’s nothing wrong with the speed with which the engine restarts, but the system sometimes switches off the engine too keenly when all you want to do is creep up to a junction and move off if the road is clear. Much better for the SW estate is the 2.0-litre 140bhp turbodiesel with its standard six-speed manual gearbox. This is reckoned by Peugeot to be the company driver’s pick and it’s easy to see why with its blend of strong low- and mid-range acceleration and relaxed cruising. The 163- and 200bhp 2.0-litre diesels come with a six-speed automatic gearbox and are good if not outstanding.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

For a big wagon, the Peugeot 508 SW estate handles well and keeps itself under control in all situations. The ride is supple in most models and the SW makes a strong case for it being the more desirable model over its saloon sister. It deals with corners in a composed fashion, though the steering has none of the feel of a Ford Mondeo’s. However, the 508 deals with bumps in a more considerate way than the Ford and is also a lot more refined on most road surfaces than the Mondeo. There is one very large ‘but’ there, though, and it’s reserved for the GT trim models that come with double wishbone front suspension. This is supposed to endow the 508 with greater handling finesse and comfort, but the opposite appears to be the result, especially as the GT comes with larger alloy wheels that pick up on minor surface irritants more readily than the normally suspended models.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 4 stars

There’s plenty to like about the way the 508 SW is put together and it feels much more substantial than its predecessor, the 407. It’s easily up with the best in class for quality of materials and construction. Our only reservation concerns the new EGC automated manual gearbox simply because it’s a component that is yet to prove its durability, which the rest of the mechanical package has.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

The 508 SW matches its saloon sister for safety gear, so comes with six airbags, anti-whiplash headrests, ESP traction and stability control all as standard. There is also the option of Peugeot’s Connect SOS, which is standard on pricier models, that automatically connects to the emergency services should the car be in an accident where the airbags are deployed. The driver can also use the SOS system to contact the emergency services in the event of a problem. There is also a head-up display as standard on more expensive 508 SW models that means the driver can see vital information without taking his or her eyes from the road for as long as it would take to look at the main dash. Another option is a tyre pressure monitoring system. Security is taken care of by an alarm, immobiliser and deadlocks.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

Peugeot may have made the 508 bigger than the car it replaces, the 407, but it’s still not quite as commodious as the class leaders in the family estate sector. Still, 560-litres of load space with the rear seats in place is generous and the 60/40 split and tip rear seats are easy to operate and free up to 1598-litres of cargo space with a completely flat floor. A wide-opening rear tailgate is welcome, but the optional powered tailgate is a pointless addition in our view as it takes longer to work than simply opening the hatch by yourself. Rear seat space is excellent for head, legs and shoulders, and it’s the same story in the front of the 508, though we found the driver’s seat would not adjust quite low enough for our taste. This left is feeling sat on the car rather than in it. However, the dash is clear and logical, with Peugeot drastically cutting down on the clutter and profusion of buttons seen in the 407.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

If you don’t care much for performance, the 1.6 e-HDi version of the 508 SW offers superb 110g/km carbon dioxide emissions and 67.2mpg average economy. This makes this 508 one of the very cleanest and most economical cars in its class, which will appeal to many business users. The 2.0-litre HDi 140 turbodiesel offers 56.5mpg and 130g/km, so is on a par with most of its key rivals. Five trims are offered with the 508 SW, comprising Access, SR, Active, Allure and GT. Entry-level Access gets you the basics, but is hardly opulent, so the SR is a better bet with its alloy wheels, cruise control and Connect SOS system. The Active gains automatic headlights and wipers, larger alloys and a panoramic glass roof, while the Allure has rear parking sensors, keyless entry, half leather upholstery and electrically adjusted front seats. The GT has the double wishbone front suspension, which would put us off this model, as well as full leather upholstery, Xenon headlights and a head-up display as standard. Insurance and servicing for the 508 should prove very affordable. Peugeot is also claiming residual values will be second only to the Volkswagen Passat’s, but only time will tell here.

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