The 508 SW is available with four diesel engines. There’s a 110bhp 1.6-litre that’s up to the job, but the 138bhp 2.0-litre is usefully stronger. In fact, it’s so good that there’s no point in upgrading to the 161bhp 2.0-litre or the 201bhp 2.2. The two petrol options – a 118bhp 1.6 and a 154bhp 1.6 turbo – make no sense.
The 508’s suspension keeps body movements well controlled, while the steering is responsive, if not exactly full of feel. GT versions are sharper still, thanks to a more sophisticated front suspension setup. Unfortunately, the ride is firm and unsettled at all speeds, whichever 508 you choose.
All of the engines we’ve driven so far have been smooth when worked and unobtrusive at speed, and road noise isn’t a problem either. Unfortunately, you can hear the suspension working on poor roads, and there’s a fair bit of wind noise on the motorway.
The Peugeot 508 SW’s list prices are roughly on a par with – or slightly higher than – a comparable Mondeo estate’s. It undercuts the equivalent VW Passat estate, however, and thanks to some exceptionally efficient diesel engines, fuel- and company car tax bills will be among the lowest around. The car’s residual values aren’t the strongest, but you’ll get a decent discount from the list price, which will compensate.
The 508 is a match for the class leaders when it comes to interior quality. The blend of smart materials, solid controls and attention to detail makes it as classy as any of its rivals, although so far we’ve only come into contact with higher-spec models. The 508’s predecessor – the 407 – did badly in our latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but the 508 feels like a big step forward over that car.
Like most of its rivals, the 508 was awarded a five-star crash rating by Euro NCAP. However, Peugeot fits the no more than the essential kit; stability control and front, side and curtain airbags. An alarm and deadlocks are fitted to all models to deter thieves, and all but Access models have locking wheelnuts.
There’s a decent range of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel, and the seats themselves are supportive. However, the driving position isn’t perfect because the seat is a bit too close to the floor, even in its highest setting, forcing you to sit with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bulky pillars limit visibility, but the dash is pretty logically laid out.
There’s plenty of space for four tall adults and their luggage in the 508 SW. Headroom is generous and, although rear legroom isn’t on a par with that in a Ford Mondeo or VW Passat, no-one is likely to complain. The almost-flat floor is unusually accommodating for anyone in the middle, too. However, the 560-litre boot isn’t quite as large as a Mondeo’s, and the folding rear seats don’t go flat enough, either.
Five trim levels make up the 508 range: Access, SR, Active, Allure and GT. Entry-level Access models have the basics, including air-con, four electric windows and a USB input. You need to step up to SR to gain alloy wheels, cruise control and Bluetooth, but satellite navigation is also included. Active and Allure don’t have sat-nav, but add a range of luxury and convenience features, while GT models come with all the whistles and bells.
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