What's the used Peugeot 508 SW estate like?
Peugeot, a firm once known for instilling in its products more than its fair share of Gallic flair, has cut quite a dash with its latest 508. Once a rather uninspiring executive saloon, the latest version adopts the styling of a fastback five-door coupe. However, for many, the added practicality of an estate rear end is an opportunity not to be missed, and as sure as day follows night it wasn’t long before this handsome 508 SW appeared to supplement the regular car. Extending the 508’s roofline and bulking out the rear end makes for a useful increase in rear head room and luggage space, and there are many who prefer the extra style of an estate car.
To keep things simple, the engine line-up is the same as the fastback 508. Petrols start with a 179bhp 1.6-litre unit, run up to a 221bhp 1.6 and peak with 222bhp and 296bhp petrol-electric hybrids, both of which are claimed to run up to 39 miles on electric power alone and the latter of which offers four-wheel drive. Diesels offer a 128bhp 1.5-litre and two versions, 161bhp and 174bhp, of a 2.0-litre engine. All engines come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
Trim levels initially started with Active, which offers 17in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and an 8.0in infotainment touchscreen. Step up to Allure trim and you’ll get a 10.0in touchscreen, heated front seats and half-leather upholstery. Next, GT Line offers 18in alloy wheels, LED headlights, tinted windows and sports seats. Top-spec GT adds 19in alloys, active suspension, full leather upholstery and an electric tailgate.
On the road, the 508 SW is a bit of a mixed bag. The 1.5-litre 130 diesel is smooth and refined but feels a little underpowered. The 161bhp version of the 2.0 BlueHDi diesel engine is smooth and swift and the 174bhp unit has plenty of oomph and, like the others, is reasonably refined. On the petrol side, the 179bhp 1.6 Puretech is smooth, responsive and a more spirited performer than the diesels, with the only disappointment being that it doesn't pull quite so well from low revs.
The 221bhp petrol brings a noticeable amount of extra shove and is the quickest option in the line-up, albeit the most costly to run. The hybrid unit combines a petrol engine with an electric motor and offers an electric-only range of around 39 miles, putting it in direct competition with Volkswagen's impressive Passat Estate GTE as well as the Skoda Superb Estate iV. When running on electric power alone, progress in the 508 SW hybrid is brisk, quiet and relaxing. However, when the petrol engine kicks in – once the battery is depleted, or if you are particularly enthusiastic with the accelerator pedal – the transition isn’t completely seamless. There is a slight jolt as it awakens, but only in sudden, hard acceleration is it noticeable to the point of being frustrating. In normal driving it shuffles between the power sources smoothly.
In corners, there’s plenty of grip, and the handling is safe and predictable, if largely uninspiring. The steering is actually slightly lower geared than other modern Peugeot models, but it has enough response and tenacity to instill confidence during faster cornering. There’s little in the way of body lean, which also helps with placing the car accurately, although the pay-off for this is a slightly firm ride that, although pleasant enough most of the time, can be a bit fidgety.
The 508 SW features Peugeot’s i-Cockpit layout, where a small steering wheel sits below your eyeline to the instrument panel, and analogue dials are replaced by a 12.3in customisable digital display. While the set-up works well for taller drivers who push the seat well back, it leaves shorter drivers unable to see all of the instrument pod. The seats are pseudo-sporty in style and the driving position is adjusted electrically in Allure-spec cars and above. However, the seat is set quite high, even on its lowest setting. Fit and finish are generally impressive, with the dashboard and surrounding areas featuring plenty of soft-touch materials and neat inserts, while top-spec GT models making good use of high-quality stitched leather. Only some cheaper-feeling plastic on the doors let the side down a bit.
Rearward visibility is quite restricted due to the car's extravagant exterior lines, so you'll be glad that reversing sensors and a rear-view camera are standard from Allure trim. Up front there’s good space for a tall driver and front passenger, despite the 508's sleek roofline. However, the news isn't as good in the rear. Yes, there’s just enough space for a six-footer to fold their legs in behind a lanky driver, but head room, although better than the fastback, is still rather limited. The 508 SW is 4cm longer at the rear than the regular car, and while that doesn’t sound like much, it has transformed the cargo space. True, like everything else in the class, it still trails the gigantic Skoda Superb Estate and Volkswagen Passat Estate, (plus the cheaper Skoda Octavia Estate), but it has more space its rear seats up or down than the Ford Mondeo Estate, Mazda 6 Tourer and BMW 3 Series Touring. The 508 SW also has a wide opening with virtually no loading lip, plus the boot itself is a usefully boxy shape.
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