The Peugeot 508 saloon has now been on UK roads for long enough to feel like a familiar sight. That’s normally about when a car maker changes up the model range by adding an estate bodystyle – and, right on cue, along comes the 508 SW.
The 508 plays somewhat fast and loose with the automotive stereotype of the big French family car. It certainly cuts a dash and, as our reviews of higher-end GT versions have confirmed, it can handle pretty well by front-wheel-drive saloon-class standards. But it’s not particularly big or accommodating and doesn’t quite have the laidback, loping ride that some might expect of it.
Extending the 508's roofline and bulking out the boot makes for 530 litres of luggage space behind the back seats and under the loadbay cover, which rises to 1780 litres up to the roof and with the second row of seats folded. Competitive figures both that you’ll need the very biggest wagons in the class to beat.
Meanwhile, all the engines and trim levels you can get on the 508 hatchback are available on an SW also, which means the line-up starts at just under £27,000 with a 129bhp 1.5-litre diesel manual in Active trim and winds its way up to a 221bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol auto First Edition priced at a whisker under £41,000. Our first UK taste of the 508 SW came in a mid-range GT Line car with a 1.5-litre diesel engine and an auto 'box.
How does the 508 SW compare to the saloon?
The 508 is somewhat less visually appealing, to these eyes at least, as a wagon than it is as a hatchback. That, we suppose, is a compliment for the job Gilles Vidal’s team did earlier, although it bucks the emerging trend by which the estate or ‘shooting brake’ version of any new executive option has become the default pick for design aficionados (think Porsche Panamera, Mercedes-Benz CLA and Kia Proceed). It’s not that the 508 makes a bad-looking estate, just that the extended roofline and rear overhang fairly obviously don’t improve its proportions.
On the inside, the car retains the ability to pleasantly surprise you with its quietly lavish trim materials, its widescreen infotainment system and digital instruments. The leather seats look more comfortable than they feel, however, being a bit short in the squab, uneven in the cushion and given to poking you in the shoulder blades rather than enveloping you with comfortable support.
The estate conversion hasn’t done anything to increase occupant space up front, which should surprise precisely no-one. The 508 SW will therefore seem tighter than the average mid-sized saloon to drivers of above-average height, with a seat that seems to perch you a little higher than you’d like and a roofline that plunges a little too close to your scalp for comfort. In the second row, the squeeze gets tighter still; the 508’s back seats offer pretty mean accommodation for adults, although there’s enough for kids, and while the SW bodystyle eases the head room limitation, it shares the same wheelbase as the hatchback, so leg room’s no better. There are Isofix child seat points on the front passenger seat and the outer back ones, though, and all come as standard.