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Road Test: Peugeot 508 SW

Martyn Collins wonders if Peugeot has placed style and desirability ahead of class-leading practicality?

SECTOR Upper Medium  PRICE TBA  FUEL 49.6-72.4mpg (WLTP)  CO2 100-125g/km (NEDC Correlated)

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There’s no doubt, compared to rivals such as the Škoda Superb, Vauxhall Insignia and Volkswagen Passat, Peugeot’s 508 is a bit of looker in the D-segment.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say the 508’s transformation from saloon to estate has been a total success, creating a better-looking load lugger than the Fastback. Highlights from the front include the same distinctive vertical daytime running lights, low coupé-like roofline and frameless rear doors, but with the added shooting brake-style rear, which has been carefully and thoughtfully grafted on.

Inside, there’s the latest version of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit interior, which fits in well with the curvy exterior, feeling high quality, futuristic and attractively styled; especially the wood trim of the GT-Line trim I drove, plus the soft-touch plastics on the dash top and the tops of the doors.

However, despite the comfortable and supportive front seats, I found the 508 SW a difficult car to get comfortable with on the test drive — the small steering wheel either too far away, or obscuring the LCD instruments. Although I have no doubt, that if I lived with a 508 SW, it wouldn’t be a problem.

Rear space is best described as average, especially for tall rear passengers, although they will appreciate a little more headroom.

The SW estate rear styling sees boot space jump from 487 litres for the saloon to 530 litres, with a usefully bigger load area. This can be increased easily to 1,780 litres by pressing the ‘Magic Flat’ rear button, which folds the rear seats. However, whilst the 508’s curvy styling might look great, it has had some impact on the minimum and/or maximum load capacity, which is down against key rivals.

On the road, it’s the generally impressive refined and composed ride that you notice first, even on 18-inch rims. Our GT-Line car was also fitted with three-mode adaptive suspension, although apart from changes to the throttle mapping, we found it hard to tell the differences between the modes. It felt most at home in Comfort.

The steering is best on the move, where it weights up nicely at speed. On the flip-side it can feel a bit over-light around town and the small rectangular wheel isn’t always easy to grab when making manoeuvres. The 508’s handling is best described as tidy, but not particularly dynamic.

Peugeot expects a 50:50 fleet split between petrol and diesel power in the 508 SW when it goes on sale next spring. We tried the HDi 160 diesel, which in our opinion is worth picking over the 130 for the extra performance and refinement. This engine is mated to an eight-speed auto, which is generally a slick performer too.

Peugeot is predicting residuals north of 50% after three years and 20,000 miles, like the Fastback, with prices expected to be just £1,600 more on average – another key attraction for the car.

The Lowdown:

Key fleet model: HDi 160 PureTech 180 GT-Line

Strengths: Styling, refinement, residuals

Weaknesses: Boot space, declining D-segment

The Verdict:

The 508 SW’s sharp styling, refined drive and impressive residuals could be enough to tempt buyers away from established rivals.

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Martyn Collins

Martyn has 18 years experience as a motoring journalist, working across a wide selection of B2B and consumer titles. A car enthusiast since his early years, Martyn has a particular interest in the latest models and technology and in his spare time enjoys driving his own Minis.