By Wayne Gorrett
Peugeot creates a dynamic, grown-up wagon to take on the Germans.
We took a shining to…
* Impressively refined * Excellent kit * Great performance *
* Comfortable and good to drive * Top quality cabin * Smart styling *
…but noted that
* Pricey at this top-end GT spec * Thirsty diesel * Better drives in its class *
* Unimpressive residuals *
☀ ☀ ☀
In late 2010, the UK introduction of the Peugeot 508 replaced, in one fell swoop, both the successful but ageing 407 and the worthy but much-maligned 607 executive express. While it was undoubtedly a very bold and risky move, the Peugeot 508 – which shares a platform with Citroen’s tried and trusted C5 – has become an excellent and proven all-rounder, with the SW estate building on the sedan’s impressive abilities. It’s spacious, comfortable, quite handsome to look at and has a respectable and practical load bay.
The 508 SW range comes with some cracking engines, too. The top-end GT version as tested enjoys a 204bhp, 2.2-litre turbo-diesel and yields 338 lb/ft (458 Nm) of full-range, usable torque. Linked to the smooth and responsive auto ’box, it makes light work of propelling this big wagon effortlessly along the road. It contemptibly dismisses 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds and, despite weighing 1,780kg, it officially achieves 47.8mpg on the combined cycle, while depositing a reasonable 154g of emissions for each 0.621371192 mile travelled. The GT’s 6-speed auto ‘box has been re-engineered from top to bottom to significantly reduce CO2 emissions while still favouring dynamism and driveability due to the rapidity of gear changes.
The 508 SW is enjoyably dynamic to drive, thanks to suspension that keeps body movement well controlled and steering that’s responsive, if not overly generous with ‘feel’. Our GT version was sharper still, thanks to a more sophisticated wishbone front suspension system. We threw it at our challenging 42-mile standard WWA test route which covers a variety of motorway, A, B and C roads around south Hampshire – several times. While it’s agile, the extra weight of the bigger rear means the SW isn’t quite as ‘on-point’ to drive as the sedan – but it’s still up there with the best in class. The excellent driving position and firm GT suspension make it easy to cover lots of ground comfortably, quickly and effortlessly.
There’s plenty of very comfortable 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 the Mondeo or Passat, we doubt there’ll be any complaints. The near flat floor is unusually accommodating for anyone in the middle too, when required. The huge panoramic roof, which comes as standard on the GT, also helps create an illusion of even more space for people sitting in both the front and rear seats.
Load space – being the raison d’être of any estate – is paramount in the 508 SW. There are some helpful touches, such as the one-touch buttons at the rear that drop the split-folding rear seats down (not quite fully flat) and a hidden stowage compartment beneath the boot floor. The 508 GT 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 – sans fuss – as any of its rivals.
This top-end GT dash has more buttons than a packet of its Cadbury namesake, but they are of high quality and well-arranged and you can tell the 508 is a step ahead for a big Peugeot in the quality department. However, two buttons you may be forgiven for not immediately noticing are the car’s ESP switch and parking sensor deactivation units – they’re out of sight in a covered panel near the driver’s right knee because Peugeot expects owners to need only very occasional use of them, which is fair enough – particularly in a rental environment where both those safety features are best left intact.
The list of kit on the GT variant is expansive. Bear with…five-dial instrument panel with colour display matrix, 7″ colour screen (integral to Peugeot Connect Navigation), leather throughout, leather multifunction steering wheel, panoramic glass roof with electric variable-length shade screen, satin chrome roof rails, 18” alloy wheels, Xenon directional headlamps with Peugeot Smartbeam Assistance, headlamp washers and LED daytime running lights, automatic headlamps and wipers, electro-chrome rear view mirror, auto dual-zone air conditioning, Peugeot Connect SOS and Assistance, Connect Navigation (RT6) with Bluetooth, Connect USB Box, colour head-up multi-info display, automatic electric parking brake with hill assist, electric folding/heated door mirrors, cruise control and speed limiter, rear parking aid, ultrasonic alarm (T-Cat1), electric lumbar adjustment of driver seat, electrically adjustable and heated front seats.
Generally, the 508 is a big step up from previous Peugeots in terms of comfort and luxury. Targeted sound-deadening and under-bonnet tweaks mean the engines – including this diesel – are barely audible from the driver’s seat. Road and wind noise are also kept well in check. The suspension does a fantastic job of soaking up rough roads, but as the SW is heavier than the saloon, its ride isn’t quite as relaxing.
When it comes to safety, the 508 is no shrinking violet. The full range features ESP (electrical stability programme) including ASR (anti-skid regulation) EBA (emergency brake assist) and EBFD (electronic brake force distribution) and CBC (cornering brake control). The ESP also includes Hill Assist with intelligent traction control, which improves the vehicle’s ability to accelerate and be driven on slippery road surfaces. Standard safety kit also includes two front airbags, two side front airbags, two curtain front airbags and two isofix fixtures with three-point attachments at the rear. The front seats have new ‘curved’ head restraints designed to protect you against whiplash.
The 508 SW has yet to be enjoyed by the crash test dummy family over at Euro NCAP, but we’d be more than a little surprised if it didn’t match the five-star overall rating acquired by the 508 sedan in 2011. All versions come with front, side and curtain airbags and stability control. An alarm, deadlocks and locking wheel nuts are fitted to deter those of a lesser social disposition.