Peugeot's stylish medium range estate model now offers a much more appealing proposition. Jonathan Crouch reports.
A significant number of Peugeot 508 customers choose the SW estate version - and you can see why. It's sensibly practical, yet very good looking. And of course it also benefits from all the technology that's revitalised the four-door second generation 508 model's proposition in the ever more competitive medium range market.
The humble station wagon. No longer quite so humble these days. In fact, estates have become something of a fashion statement in recent years. You'd choose one over the ordinary saloon model even if you didn't necessarily need the extra carrying space. Most Peugeot 508 buyers do. Here's the 508 SW model, in this case rejuvenated to take on a raft of tough rivals including estate versions of models like the Ford Mondeo, the Vauxhall Insignia and the Volkswagen Passat. So today, what does a potential 508 SW buyer now really want? Experience in the market suggests three things: style, class and technology. In response, Peugeot has put a lot more thought into this car. It looks more up-market - and we're promised that it will feel that way when you take a seat behind the wheel. There's extra hi-tech equipment too, with things you'd have to pay extra for on some rivals. So, has the French brand got this recipe right? Let's find out..
As you'd expect, this SW variant drives just as its saloon stablemate does. The hardware certainly looks promising here. There's a proper multi-link rear suspension set-up and a strong crop of engines from which buyers can choose. The previous generation 508 SW was launched with an all-diesel line-up, but a lot's changed since then and today, a car in this class needs strong petrol provision too - which it gets in this case courtesy of a couple of 1.6-litre turbo petrol units, developing either 180hp or 225hp. There's also a 130hp 1.5-litre diesel and 160hp and 180hp 2.0 diesels. Only the 1.5 diesel gets a six-speed manual gearbox; the others must be ordered with an eight-speed automatic. Peugeot can also offer you a plug-in hybrid version which uses a 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine mated to an 80kW electric motor, the resulting package offering a combined total output of 225hp. At the wheel, you're positioned in front of an improved version of Peugeot's i-Cockpit dashboard layout, which as usual, sees you looking over the rim of the steering wheel at the instrument dials, rather than conventionally through it. And as usual, the leather-stitched tiller in question is a small, grippy thing which gives you the illusion of greater interaction with the car. Or maybe it won't be an illusion. Higher-spec models are fitted out with adaptive damping. And all variants get the usual drive modes system, which adapts steering, throttle and gear change timings to the way you want to drive.
The idea with this estate model was to bring the radical styling traits of the 508 saloon to station wagon customers. At just 1.42m in height and 4.78m long, the 508 SW's proportions give it quite a dynamic body shape, stylised by smooth, flowing lines and a sleek, low roof. The look is further enhanced further by exterior details, including frameless doors - a unique estate car feature for a mainstream carmaker. Plus there are full-LED headlights and opalescent LED daytime running lights with a vertical visual signature. The unusual exterior looks are mirrored by an original interior, highlighted, as mentioned in our drive section, by the usual Peugeot i-Cockpit dashboard design, plus there's a large 10-inch capacitive touchscreen angled towards the driver and a 12.3-inch head-up digital instrument panel. The cabin also features i-Cockpit Amplify, which enables the driver to choose between two levels of ambience - 'Boost' and 'Relax'. As for practicality, there's a hands-free, powered tailgate, a 530-litre boot and a 'Magic Flat' function for the rear bench seat which retracts to reveal a total load space capacity of 1780-litres.
Prices sit in the £28,000 to £41,000 bracket and there's a choice of 'Active', 'Allure', 'GT Line' and 'GT' variants. All are well equipped. Even base 'Active'-spec gives you 17-inch alloy wheels, auto headlamps and wipers and Connected 3D Navigation with voice recognition. You'll need to stretch at least as far as mid-range 'Allure'-spec though, to get the 'Peugeot i-Cockpit' digital instrument binnacle screen. At the top of the range on plush variants, equipment runs to just about everything Peugeot could think of, including a superb 'FOCAL' surround sound Hi-Fi system, night vision, fully automated parking assistance and of course full navigation on the 10-inch central-dash HD touchscreen. There's also a 360-degree colour camera system and a wireless smartphone charging plate to keep your mobile's battery topped up during long drives. The wrap-around seats offer five multi-point massage programmes, there's a range of premium and sophisticated trim and upholstery materials and you can have a panoramic opening glass roof.
Peugeot usually specialises in extremely efficient running cost returns and this 508 SW is no different in that regard. The base 1.5 BlueHDi 130 variant in manual form manages up to 63.6mpg on the WLTP combined cycle and puts out just 94g/km of NEDC-rated CO2. For the 2.0 BlueHDi diesel 160 EAT8 variant, the figures are up to 52.9mpg and up to 110g/km. And for the top 2.0 BlueHDi diesel 180 EAT8 version, you're looking at are up to 50.3mpg and up to 109g/km. Want petrol power? Well for the 1.6 PureTech 225 petrol unit with its EAT8 auto transmission, the figures are up to 44.0mpg on the combined cycle and 114g/km of CO2. For the perkier 225hp version of this engine, it's 42.2mpg and 119g/km. For really frugal running cost returns though, you'll need the clever hybrid plug-in variant. This uses an 11.8kWh battery which can be fully charged in under two hours using a standard 7kW Wallbox. Once that's done, an all-electric WLTP-rated driving range of between 30-39 miles is possible. Even better news is the 39g/km CO2 reading applied to this model, which means that it attracts a Benefit-in-Kind rate for company car drivers of just 10%. Of course running costs are about a lot more than just fuel economy and CO2 readings, so what else are you going to need to know? Well, there's the usual unremarkable three year/60,000-mile warranty. And if you are paying for maintenance work, you can budget ahead for it by taking up Peugeot's 'Service Plan' that for a fixed monthly fee, can cover you for up to 50,000 miles of motoring over either three or five years.
This second generation 508 SW is smarter, cleverer and better equipped. In other words, we're talking about a very complete package. Would you really want the kind of stripped-out, basic BMW 3 Series Touring or Audi A4 Avant you'd have to pay more for in preference to one of these? More pertinently perhaps, would you rather have a more ordinary-feeling Vauxhall Insignia Sport Tourer or Ford Mondeo estate? These are key questions if you're in the market for a conventional spacious station wagon of this sort. Try a 508 SW and you might well find that answering them is a little easier.
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