Peugeot has created its most striking-looking 508 SW yet to attract image-conscious buyers who may otherwise look to SUVs.
Speaking at Peugeot’s design centre in Vélizy, France, 508 product manager Bernard Hesse said the design of the estate, which is predicted to account for 60-65% of 508 sales, was given as much precedence as its practicability.
“We saw competitors like Mercedes with the CLA and the CLS Shooting Brakes, which are very interesting [in terms of design],” he said. “So we designed a more dynamic look for the SW right from the start of development of the 508’s EMP2 platform.”
The new car’s more taut proportions mean it is actually 6cm shorter in height and 5cm shorter in length than its predecessor. It offers 530 litres of boot space (30 litres less than the previous car) with the interior boot cover closed, while maximum load space with the seats folded provides 1780 litres – that’s identical to the Volkswagen Passat and 115 litres more than that of the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer.
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To reduce wear and tear and aid with loading, there’s a stainless steel boot sill, while the tailgate is powered and the floor inside is almost completely flat when the rear seats are folded down.
Rear head room is 40cm better than in the saloon variant, thanks to the 508 SW’s slightly raised roof section. But the use of frameless rear doors helps the estate retain a swooping roofline. Peugeot product design director Pierre-Paul Mattei said this was important to ensure “balance without style overload”.
The 508 SW’s tail-lights have been taken straight from the 508 fastback, as has the design of the rear bumper and chrome-tipped tailpipes. The front end is also identical, with the same LED headlights that flank a curving grille, which sits beneath a protruding bonnet.
Inside, the car gets Peugeot’s latest iCockpit dashboard, which brings a digital instrument cluster and a 10.0in central touchscreen featuring 3D satellite navigation and Apple Carplay/Android Auto smartphone technology. There are four USB sockets in the car; two in the front and two for rear passengers.
The ergonomics of the new cabin architecture have placed the steering wheel lower down from the instrument cluster to improve visibility (an issue for some users of the previous-generation iCockpit), while the dashboard’s wrap-around layout brings the seven main centre console buttons (which take influence from the keys of a piano) and infotainment screen within easy reach.
All cars will get a full-grain leather steering wheel, with top-spec GT-Line and GT models featuring perforated leather. There’s also a greater use of flocked fabric to enhance the cabin’s premium feel – something that Hesse said is part of Peugeot’s push to take on its German rivals. Optional Alcantara and nappa leather can be specified to create the most luxurious 508 SW.
As part of an extensive driver assist technology suite, the 508 SW gets a night-vision system that uses an infrared camera to project the view ahead onto the infotainment screen. There’s adaptive cruise control that can stop and start the car in traffic, lane-keep assist and park assist, which can automatically park and drive a car out of a space. Peugeot said the car’s active safety brake system can detect pedestrians and cyclists day and night, from 3mph to 87mph.
The new EMP2 structure makes greater use of structural adhesives and uses a new body welding technique, enhancing structural rigidity and helping to reduce weight by around 70kg. It features a multi-link rear suspension set-up for improved ride comfort and it is maximised when optional (or standard on GT variants) variable controlled damping is fitted.
The 508 SW’s different body encouraged the use of bespoke suspension settings.
Yann Bonny, the car’s vehicle dynamics director, said that adjustments were made to “compensate for the differences” that the slightly heavier estate body brings.
When sales kick off in early 2019, power will come from a choice of three engines, each certified to Euro 6.2 standards (which come into force in 2020).
Peugeot claims the 508 SW’s CO2 outputs are the lowest in its class.
The entry-level engine will be a 1.6 Puretech petrol, available in 178bhp and 222bhp forms. There will also be BlueHDi diesels in 1.5 and 2.0 forms, offering between 128bhp and 178bhp. The 1.5 diesel gets a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but the rest of the powertrains come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that enables a freewheeling mode to save fuel. Peugeot said it can reduce fuel consumption by around 3%.
Autocar understands prices for the launch range will remain close to the outgoing model, which opens from £26,710. Following the regular SW’s arrival in mid-2019 will be a more fuel-efficient version – a petrol plug-in hybrid. It’s due with a pure electric range of 31 miles, according to the latest WLTP findings.