Peugeot 508 SW

  I knew it!  I said they would… Apparently, European SUV sales of are beginning to drop. It’s as a result of environmental concerns. Owners of SUVs aren’t replacing them like-for-like because of their fuel consumption, and their – the owners that is – carbon footprint. Or so I’ve heard…

 But the source of said rumours is a good one: Peugeot’s CEO, Jean-Philippe Imperato. And let’s face it, if anyone’s going to know their automotive onions…

    The irony of course is that Peugeot’s recent return to family favourite form is a result of them building a whole range of SUVs, their most recent, the 2008, being launched the very same week I’m writing this. Plus ca change, etc.

   So then, what if you want if Peugeot capable of carrying the whole family plus the dog, but you don’t a plant-threatening, carbon-belching, crowd following, SUV?

   Well, no-doubt Monsieur Imperato would suggest this: Peugeot’s new 508SW.

  Quite whether that SW suffix stands for Station Wagon, or to use the more Germanic vernacular, Sport Wagen, I’ve not been able ascertain. Nevertheless you’ve got to hand it Peugeot’s design team, they’ve made a cracking job of turning the 508 fastback - that’s saloon car to the likes of you and me - into a very handsome looking estate.

    It’s low and it’s sleek, and it certainly cuts a very stylish kind of Gallic dash. In fact at just 1.42m high and 4.78m long, the 508 SW’s proportions give it an extremely dynamic, athletic even, body shape further defined by details, including frameless doors - unique on an estate car from a mainstream carmaker, full LED headlights, and vertical opalescent LED running lights that become indicators when required. They look as if they’ve been cut into the front-bumper with something very sharp indeed. There’s even a discreet rear diffuser – on an estate car!

    For those for whom dimensions reign over design, the SW is 40mm longer than the Fastback, with which it shares its new, lighter EMP” platform, but the wheelbases of both saloon and estate are identical.

    You too, have to lower yourself, and quite significantly, in order gain access to the 508 SW’s cabin. And once aboard you’ll notice that Peugeot’s design team have been busy on the interior décor too. It’s a roomy interior, but not an overtly spacious one; an adult can happily sit behind another one, but there’s not what you’d call sprawling space. Headroom thanks to that curvaceous roof line is a tad tight too. It is comfy though and remains so for hour after hour.

    The boot incidentally packs 530 litres seats-up, or whopping 1,780 litres with rear seats (not quite) folded flat.

   The driving position is dominated by Peugeot’s I-cockpit design which, if you’ve not experienced it before takes a little getting used to. Peugeot, you see, don’t think you should look through the steering wheel in order to view their digital instruments – they’re very bright and clear – but over it instead. As a result the steering wheel is approximately saucer-sized. And make that octagonal saucer-sized.

   Initially it seems a little odd to be controlling such a large car with such a small wheel, but once acclimatised the 508SW can be made to change direction with surprising agility.  It is perhaps a little firm over rougher surfaces (blame those large alloys) but it does rides rather nicely elsewhere. It’s a shame there isn’t a little more feel and feedback though, (blame that tiny tiller’s lack of leverage and the extra electronic assistance need to compensate for it).

    There seemed little point in troubling our BlueHDi 160’s paddle-shifters. The 8 speed automatic gearbox does an admirable job of selecting the appropriate ratio most of the time, and to be honest, despite those slinky looks and in this case the GT Line badging too, the 508 SW seems better suited to soaking-up the miles rather than attacking every last one of them. Relax, and the 508 SW will thank you for it. It’s a very competent and quiet cruiser.

   A word of advice before you embark. Switch off the lane assist. Like the 508SW’s lack of any proper heater controls – you can only change settings via its touchscreen – the all-knowing system’s constant desire to correct your line on all but arrow straight roads is, not to put too fine a point on it, bloody annoying!

    And yet, that said, the 508 SW is quite an easy car to live with every day. It’s economical, it’s well-equipped, it’s far better built - and built from far better materials - than you’ve previously been led to expect from a large French executive saloon… Sorry, that’s estate. No, I mean Station Wagon… Err, well, I think I do. It also offers room enough for the majority of family duties too. And you’ve got to admit, in a world of boxy estate cars, and even boxier SUVs, it does offer something with significantly more visual appeal.

    If like me you’re old enough to remember when Peugeot claimed their cars would take your breath away, the fact is the 508SW isn’t about to do such things just yet. Nevertheless, the Lion has at least got some of its strength back: The 508SW represents another welcome return to form for Peugeot.



PEUGEOT 508 GT Line BlueHDi 160 EAT 8 S&S

Engine: 1,997 cc 4Cyl 16V turbo-diesel

Transmission: 8 Speed manual, front wheel drive.

Power:  163 bhp @ 3,750 rpm

Torque: 400 lbft @ 1,750 rpm

0-62MPH: 8.5 Sec

Max Speed: 140 mph

CO2: 110 - 115 g/km

MPG: 52.9 – 45.4 (WLT combined)

Price: £32,680 otr (As driven: £35,505).


Many thanks to Craig at Peugeot’s UK press office


Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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