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.
The better news is that Peugeot makes a better fist of providing a practical loadbay here. The 508 SW has a low loading sill and a flat floor with no lip to lift stuff over, an underfloor cubby in which to store the sliding loadbay cover when you need to remove it and second-row seats that split 60:40 as you look at them from the boot opening – the more useful way around for through-loading as far as right-hand-drive markets are concerned.
The boot is long. Lashing points in each corner are standard; if you want boot rails with adjustable tethering hooks or a restraint net to prevent stuff from sliding forwards into the passenger compartment, you’ll need an upper-spec GT or First Edition model to get them as standard, or to pay extra to get them as an option lower down the range.
How does the 508 SW perform on the road?
PSA’s 1.5-litre turbodiesel doesn’t sound like a particularly enticing engine for a car of this size and type, but it does a respectable job here – combined, as it is, with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s certainly not the noisy, ever-straining act you might expect it to be. Torque of 221lb ft turns out to be enough to keep the car mooching along in give-and-take traffic just fine when it’s juggled by the slick, smart-shifting transmission.
The engine stays fairly quiet and smooth for a four-pot diesel – until, that is, you’re asking for everything it can give. At that point, when overtaking and generally hurrying only, the 508 SW does begin to feel a bit slow, and with a family and baggage aboard, it would feel slower still. But performance doesn’t really seem limited on part-throttle or indeed most of the time.
Judge that performance in combination with the fuel economy this car can achieve, in fact, and you might be well satisfied with it. You have to drive hard not to average 50mpg on the road. On a longer route and under a moderate style, an indicated 60mpg is easily possible.