Peugeot 508 SW makes a big impression


Peugeot’s new 508 SW model has made a big impression on editor DAVID HOOPER. Here, he explains why.

Peugeot’s new 508 SW is a very attractive, beautifully styled car.

I HAD heard a some good initial reports about Peugeot’s new 508 range which has superseded the 407 models, but until my test car arrived, I hadn’t seen one in the flesh.
My first impression as it arrived was that it was a very attractive looking car. Possessing a style designers manage to achieve, it looked an imposingly long car in the SW, or estate bodystyle, but despite its size, it also managed to look quite sleek.
Gone is the gaping mouth of its 407 predecessor which looked like a basking shark trawling the oceans for its prey, which I thought was too large, to be replaced with a toned-down nose which works much better, with the Peugeot name in capitals sitting just under the lip of the bonnet. This is a tremendous improvement in my book, which gives the car a far more elegant profile.

The 508 SW’s boot is enormous – and that’s before you fold down the rear seats.

Inside, the 508 is just as appealing. The dashboard is beautifully designed, the instrumentation is clear and easy to read and the subsidiary controls are intuitive to operate and everything feels to be manufactured from high quality materials and components. The dashboard mouldings are soft to the touch, there is a nice mix of colours and textures, from the gloss black finish of the centre console, to the carbon effect detailing and silver trim highlights surrounding the instrumentation – and then there’s that lovely “new car” smell I remember from years ago which is often missing in today’s new models, but the Peugeot had it and every time I opened the door and sat in the car. It felt special.
The large panoramic sunroof, standard on the SW model, is a great feature, especially for rear seat passengers. Flooding the car with light, it helps to lift the mood – even on a dull day. If it gets too bright, an electric blind can shield the interior at the twist of a dial.
The SW’s boot is impressively large, and can easily be extended by flicking a lever located on the side of the load area to fold down the rear seats.
Peugeot is aiming to boost its presence in the executive fleet market with the 508 and I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with this new model and believe that the French carmaker now has a product which can directly challenge the best in its market sector – Audi on quality and Ford in driving dynamics.

Pulling a lever on the side of the boot folds down the rear seats.

Peugeot’s are usually good cars to drive, and the new 508 is no exception. It is a comfortable car to travel in and is a real mile-eater – good news for the company car driver. Two suspension systems are offered, a McPherson strut system is employed on most of the range, but on GT models, a drop link dual wishbone front axle is used to improve stiffness and accuracy.
I did a couple of big trips in the 508 and on each occasion I arrived at my destination feeling fresh and unflustered. I will happily vouch for the support and comfort of the seats, which were electrically adjustable in the model I tested.
My only slight criticism would be directed at the steering, which provided good feedback most of the time, but on occasions I thought there was a bit too much power assistance from the electro-hydraulic system, but this was a fairly minor issue.
On a cross-country sprint, the 508 felt very composed and took everything I threw at it in its stride. Not normally a great fan of automatic gearboxes, even that didn’t cause any real issues once on the move, although I did find the selector a bit “sticky”, moving from Park to Drive through the gates. Although the more I used the car, the less I noticed it, so perhaps it’s one of those things that takes a little getting used to in an unfamiliar car.

The car’s interior is one of the classiest you will find.

Once on the move, although I had the option of changing gear using the paddles mounted behind the steering wheel, I didn’t feel the need, even when pressing on, which has to be a testament to the quality of the gearbox which was usually in the right gear at the right time – not something that can usually be said of autos. It had a “sport” mode, but again, I rarely felt the need. There is an option to change gear using the selector lever, which unusually works as it should, pushing the lever forward to change down and nudging back to change up – usually the opposite is the case in many production cars.
Buyers have a choice of five models, Access, SR, Active, Allure, and GT and a selection of petrol and diesel engines, ranging in power output from 112 to 200bhp, and starting from just 109g/km C02 in the case of the 1.6 e-HDI engine which features Stop & Start technology. These engines can be combined with five or six-speed manual gearboxes, or a six-speed automatic.
Standard equipment levels are high, but I particularly liked the Open and Go keyless entry and start system, standard on Allure and GT models. Simply touch the door handle to lock or unlock the car, press a start button on the dash, and away you go.
A Hill Assist function is standard, and some models even come with a system which measures up parking spaces for you to see if the car will easily fit into the available space. Air conditioning is standard across the range, but a first for this sector is a quad-zone system on some models which allows four occupants to control their own area of the car independently.
Peugeot has done a truly excellent job with the new 508 range – yet there is more to come. Next year (2012), Peugeot will introduce a hybrid model, featuring a HDi diesel engine at the front and an electric motor at the rear of the car. I would expect this combination to improve the fuel consumption offered by the current Japanese hybrids which use petrol engines – I await their arrival with great interest.

Smart lines – the 508 SW looks good from any angle you choose to view it from.

Rating: ★★★★★★

MODEL: Peugeot 508 SW Allure 2.0 HDi 163 Automatic
PEUGEOT 508 RANGE: From 508 Access 1.6 VTi 120 EGC 4dr (£18,150) to 508 SW GT HDi 200 (£29,975).
ENGINE: 1997cc, 163bhp four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed automatic gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 138mph. 0-62mph in 9.5 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 36.2mpg.
Country: 62.8mpg.
Combined: 49.6mpg.
Fuel tank: 72 litres.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 149g/km.
PRICE: £25,925.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.