ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: PEUGEOT 508 SW
On French leave, motoring writer KEITH WARD takes Peugeot’s 508 SW Estate back to its homeland and is impressed with its versatility.
IT was on a 200-mile homeward dash across northern France from the Loire to the Channel that the 508 SW estate came into its own as a lithe, long distance tourer. Massive holiday weekend traffic for miles around Le Mans blocked what was to have been a leisurely motorway stroll.
By the time we had eventually crawled to the next exit, queued again to fork out the toll charge (what – for standing in a jam?) and made our blessed escape on to normal roads, we were up against the clock to make Brittany Ferries’ last crossing of the day, overnight from Caen to Portsmouth.
Now committed to mostly cross-country, single carriageways with a fair mixture of twist, drop and climb across what were the terrible battlefields of Normandy, the 508 seemed to take on the challenge with puppyish glee.
Smooth and sprightly through its six-speed, dual mode, automatic gearbox, the 163 bhp diesel could be further coaxed with a switch to sport setting, or into manual operation via the gearstick or a tweak of the racing-style paddles at fingertip, behind the nicely weighted steering wheel.
Indeed, this steed had to be frequently kept in check to comply with France’s new commitment to a regime of speed cameras, radar and on-the-spot fines. A flash of headlights from a friendly oncoming motorist signalled a police speed trap up ahead. In towns and villages, speed humps helped slow you to an equivalent 30, 20 or even 12 mph. Locals, once defiantly gas pedal-happy, now conform.
It was recalled that a widowed friend in her 80’s, respectful of authority in her life, was recently slapped with a fine for failing to come to a complete halt at a Stop sign, at an otherwise deserted junction.
On the other hand, beware this summer: Some conurbations have revived that old bugbear for British drivers – the rule of giving priority to traffic from your right.
This allows a chattering 2CV to hurtle out of a side street, without pause, to cross your bows on the major road.
I digress. I had taken the Peugeot back to its native land to fulfil an important social engagement. My wife’s 12-year-old godson, middle child of long-time French friends, was to attend his inaugural church communion.
The so-stylish SW, gleaming in the Gallic sunshine, was deputed leading transport to the ceremony, its young occupants marvelling at the skyward view through its full-length, panoramic sunroof. Look – you could take in the whole church spire! In another role, the huge boot carried vast quantities of food, wine, catering equipment and crockery, coddled by the supple suspension, to the village hall for the long, celebratory meal afterwards.
The 508 is this year’s replacement for the 407, and confirms Peugeot as the best looking brand of the French trio made up by Renault and Citroen. Practical drawbacks to the beautiful line of the SW – estate – are its broad front and middle roof pillars, restricting the driver’s vision, especially at oblique junctions.
Sat-nav was surprisingly missing from the otherwise generous Allure trim, second top of five levels, on the test car. But it is included in the second bottom SR, aimed at business users, as well as the top GT version. Refinement is high. Much work on sound insulation has paid off.
In a range priced between £18,150 for the lowliest saloon and £29,975 for the top estate there’s a choice of two petrol and five diesel engines. Cleanest is the new 112 bhp diesel 1.6 e-HDI emitting 109 g/km. The 163 bhp, 2.0-litre diesel in our test breathes 149 g/km but returned just over 47 mpg, despite the ferry dash and the load of its catering duties.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Model: Peugeot 508 SW Allure HDi 163 Auto
Type: Four-door saloon; separate boot; drop-down rear seats
Size: Length 4,813 mm; width 2,068; kerb wt 1,710 kg; tow braked 1,300 kg
Boot: 660 expanding to 1,865 litres; deck length 1,030 ext to 1,640 mm; min width 1,100 mm; sill ht 600 mm
Engine: Diesel; 1,997 cc; 16-valve; 6-speed automatic
Power: 163 bhp @ 3,750 rpm; max torque 340 Nm @ 2,000 rpm
Pace: 138 mph; 0-62 in 9.5 secs
MPG: On test 47.1 mpg; official combined 49.5
CO2: 149 g/km; annual tax disc £130
Insurance: Group 28E