Peugeot 508 SW long-term test review
Peugeot's 508 SW aims to mix the svelte looks of the 508 executive car with the practicality of an estate, but is the result as appealing as it sounds? Our chief photographer is finding out...
The car Peugeot 508 SW Puretech 180 Allure Run by John Bradshaw, chief photographer
Why it’s here I still believe an estate is the best way of fulfilling my requirements as a photographer
Needs to Offer plenty of space for all my photography gear, provide a comfortable ride on long journeys and have a raft of equipment and modern safety tech
Mileage 10,450 List price £32,280 Target Price £31,129 Price as tested £34,655 Test economy 40.3mpg Official economy 44.8mpg (combined) Dealer price now £23,453 Private price now £20,847 Trade-in price now £20,196 Running costs (excluding depreciation) Fuel £1269
14 August 2020 – A glamorous goodbye
At What Car?, we pride ourselves on not comparing style and looks in our in-depth reviews. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But in the real world, and away from fuel economy and rear boot space, a car’s appearance is a huge deciding factor in picking your next car. You can weigh up all the pros and cons between two cars, but in the end, most will decide on the one they think is more attractive.
That’s one area that Peugeot has taken into consideration with the 508 SW – but perhaps a little too much. As you can see, there’s no denying that its sleek lines, low roof and modern interior give it a stylish edge over some of the boxier estates on the market. But during my time running it, I’ve found that it might have erred a bit too much in the direction of style over substance; it’s definitely more of a looker than it is a worker.
While a sloping roof might work well on a small coupé, for something designed to be a load-lugging estate it cuts into the boot space and makes carrying bulky items impractical. As I’ve already mentioned in my previous reports, I regularly have to haul my collection of camera equipment to photo shoots, so space and practicality are my main priorities when choosing cars. As such, while the boot space on offer would be enough for regular families on their weekly shop, for anything bigger and bulkier, it doesn’t really fulfil its duties as an estate. It’s a million miles away from our class leader, the gigantic Skoda Superb Estate.
The same goes for the design aesthetic in the interior, which is completely unlike any other estate I’ve been in. I’ve spoken before about Peugeot’s ‘i-Cockpit’ layout, which features a small steering wheel and raised instrument cluster and aims to make information such as your speed easier to read. Fortunately, my height and driving position meant this layout just about worked, but my colleagues who have borrowed the car have complained that they’re too tall, or sit too far away from the steering wheel, for the set-up to really suit them. It also took a long time for me to become accustomed to the tiny wheel; it felt more like something designed for a Formula 1 car than a family estate.
Then there’s the futuristic design of the centre console, featuring Peugeot’s ‘piano key’ layout. Even now, I still struggle to use those shortcut keys, because it’s so hard to decipher which one is labelled as what, but thankfully I have learned the right key for radio and navigation purely through muscle memory.
The infotainment has also been tricky to get used to. I’ve always preferred physical dials for things such as adjusting the climate control, whereas having to go through the touchscreen for most basic tasks is fiddly and takes unnecessary time and effort.
It sounds like I’m being negative, but as a machine to drive, the 508 SW actually performed very well. I always felt comfortable and had no problems when pounding motorway miles, while the petrol engine is more than powerful enough to take on longer journeys. I even managed to achieve an average fuel economy of 40mpg, which isn’t too bad for a large petrol estate mostly full of heavy gear. The lower centre of gravity also means the car stays composed around twisting country roads and doesn’t feel as cumbersome as boxier rivals such as the Superb Estate.
Despite recent events, I’ve still managed to put the 508 SW through my usual array of outings, such as photo shoots, city driving and a pre-lockdown holiday, but to me, it just doesn’t fulfil its description as an estate well enough for it to be my choice. Sure, it’s great to see a change to the market from the suburban estate styling of old, but when that comes at the detriment of practicality, it does seem like a bit too much beauty instead of brains.
Now, I seem to have mentioned the Superb Estate a few times here, so maybe I should get myself a Skoda brochure for my next decision.
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