Gareth Butterfield tests the handsome new Peugeot 508SW
IF you think about it, it’s been a long time since there’s been a genuinely desirable estate car in the mainstream.
Ever since the SUV boom investment in saloon cars and their estate stablemates has been on the wane and the sorts of manufacturers who would usually produce the loveliest of load-luggers have had their attentions turned elsewhere.
However Peugeot quietly launched one of the most handsome saloons on the market recently with its new 508 and now there’s an estate version, badged the 508SW. And I think it’s one of the most stylish cars on the market at the moment.
SW stands for Station Wagon and it follows the arrival of the saloon, or “fastback” as Peugeot would rather we call it. I’ve tested the saloon, sorry, fastback, and it really did live up to its looks. It was a great car. The first Peugeot in a long time I’ve genuinely desired, in fact.
The obvious difference between the two, other than a rather lusciously styled rear light setup in the estate, is the bigger boot. The electrically operated tailgate lifts to reveal a 530-litre boot in the newcomer, which is only a bit bigger than the fastback’s 487 litres. However, with the SW you can fold the seats flat to open up a rather gargantuan 1,780 litres. Tell me again, why does one need an SUV?
There’s two diesel engines and two petrol engines to choose from with this new line-up. Most of them are automatic and all offer just front-wheel-drive.
The top diesel is a 178bhp turbo lump, which is really rather nice, or there’s a more tax-friendly, smaller diesel with 127bhp in case you need that sort of thing.
The pick of the petrol engines is a 222bhp turbo unit, which will spirit you along nicely but don’t expect any histrionics. The 508 is a car more suited to driving sedately in comfort, than driving like a nutter through the B roads.
As a cruising machine, then, you’ll be getting the best out of the 508’s setup. Top models even come with massage seats, so there’s little reason to press on anyway. Just enjoy the ride and the wonderful comfort of the plush, elegant interior.
Minimalism is Peugeot’s new “thing” and it’s made a few of its other cars a bit tricky to use. The lack of physical buttons is less evident here, but there’s still a few too many controls bundled into the infotainment system, and that will annoy some people.
That’s if you’ve not already had your stress levels raised by the idiotically small steering wheel. I’m getting used to these now, as every new Peugeot, large or small, has one, but some people might find it a bit daft, or even annoying. But some people don’t seem to mind at all, so perhaps it’s academic.
Everything else though, from the low roof-line to the pillarless doors and the chunky seats, makes you feel a bit special. It’s such a classy car, it honestly puts some of its pricier rivals to shame. It’s bigger inside, too.
Said touch of class could set you back up to £40,000 for the top models, but SW ownership starts at under £28,000 so it’s not as if it’ll break the bank. Most people will be paying monthly, anyway, and Peugeot has a habit of lining up some clever finance deals.
I like the SW because it offers something different. Not everyone will like the weird and, in some ways, wonderful interior but many people will.
More than anything it’s great to see something stylish in a world that seems to have otherwise settled on the mundane. It’s always a pleasure to see one out on the road because it reminds me that the saloon and estate sector hasn’t simply given up.
It’s different in a good way, and I urge you to try one out.