It’s time for the estate car to stand up and deliver. For far too long, I’ve been extolling the virtues of the wagon, championing its cause in the wake of the wider public’s obsession with the SUV. Having spent six months in the company of the thoroughly excellent SEAT Tarraco SUV, the Peugeot 508 SW therefore has a tough act to follow. It also has the reputation of the estate car to uphold. No pressure then, Peugeot.
First impressions are excellent. James Fossdyke – who ran a 508 Fastback for Diesel Car – called the car “pretty”. I’d go as far to say it’s beautiful, with the 508 SW having an almost ‘shooting brake’ feel to it. The Ultimate Red paint certainly helps, although quite why the other nine colours available on the 508 SW are so muted is anyone’s guess. In common with Mr Fossdyke’s 508, ‘my’ test car is a GT Line model, which is effectively the third highest of four trim levels. There’s a now sold out lavish, limited run First Edition trim to confuse matters, but my point remains. The 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels fill the arches, while the LED headlights, LED ‘Claw Effect’ rear lights and chequered grille give the car real presence. BMW, Maserati and Jaguar are just three of the names mentioned by friends and family members when they first set eyes on the 508. If Peugeot was chasing a premium market, the styling certainly ticks the right boxes. It’s also proving to be quite a star on my Instagram account – or maybe that’s because I’m too used to posting photos of the kind of cars nobody else is usually interested in.
The previous Diesel Car long-termer was powered by a 2.0-litre engine, while this one has a smaller 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130 unit. With 129bhp and 221lb ft of torque on tap, it will be interesting to see how the load-lugger copes with the reduced power. These figures compare with 161bhp and 295lb ft offered by the 2.0-litre BlueHDi unit, so I’m keen to find out if the 508 struggles to get going with a full quota of passengers and luggage. CO2 emissions of 94g/km looks impressive on paper, but the figures of 52.4mpg to 62.0mpg will be hard to achieve if the engine has to be worked hard – especially on the hills of Devon. That will come with the fullness of time, because I’ve only had a chance to cover around 600 miles since the Peugeot arrived a week before Christmas. Having rescued a well-preserved Renault Safrane from Clapham (don’t ask) and done my best impression of a party host over the festive period, I’ve been unable to get the best from the new arrival.
However, I’ve been bowled over by the styling and interior. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to high-sided vehicles, because I was taken aback by the low roofline when filling up with fuel last week. This, combined with the frameless doors, delivers a sense of occasion and elegance that’s sadly missing from the majority of new cars. The good vibes continue on the inside, with a dashboard dominated by a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, 10-inch infotainment screen, piano-like touch-sensitive buttons and a steering wheel the size of a button. This thing has showroom glamour in spades. Having said all of that, it’s important to remember that it needs to deliver as a humble estate car. While the 508 Fastback makes do with 487 litres of boot space and 1,537 litres with the seats folded down, the 508 SW gets 530 litres and an even bigger area when tumbled down. As a result, there’s a total of 1,780 litres on offer. If I had any money left after Christmas – and the Safrane purchase – I could fill that loadbay in the New Year sales.
On paper, then, the Peugeot 508 SW is my kind of car, so it will be interesting to see how the coming months play out.
Date arrived 28th November 2019
Fuel economy 52.4-62.0 (WLTP combined) 48.1mpg (on test)
Heated seats! Just in time for the coldest winter months.
Is a 1.5-litre engine a little on the small side?