"The Peugeot 508 SW is a very comfortable estate car, boasting huge amounts of boot space and practicality, but it's outdone by its rivals."
When the Peugeot 508 SW was launched, it was meant to elevate the large family car's image to compete with the Volkswagen Passat and even attempt to steal some sales from executive cars such as the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class.
The 508 is undoubtedly a good-looking car and its styling combines with the chrome and big wheels on the high-specification models to make for a car that looks much classier than the Peugeot 407 it replaced.
Much work was also put into the cabin, which is a nice place to sit with much better plastics than Peugeots of old, there's quite a lot of space, too, and plenty of equipment in the more expensive models.
The Peugeot also has a good reputation for striking a decent balance between comfortable suspension, a good ride and a fun driving experience.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
If running costs are a priority then the petrol engines are probably best avoided because they can’t do better than 46mpg – and that's in the entry-level car, which is also quite slow. Both petrols cost £140 to tax annually. While the basic diesel's performance may appear slower on paper than the cheapest petrol, it will have more mid-range power for overtaking at speed. It can also return 64mpg and, with CO2 emissions of 109g/km, will cost just £20 to tax. The 2.0-litre diesel is capable of 58mpg, while the GT at the top of the range can get 49mpg. Their C02 emissions mean that annual road tax costs £105 and £140 respectively. The 508SW is also available as a diesel-electric hybrid that can return nearly 70mpg, but at £30,325 it costs nearly £10,000 more than the 2.0-litre diesel, making it a very expensive choice.
Interior & comfort
The 508 signalled a move upmarket for Peugeot and because of this it has one of the best cabins in the manufacturer's range, although it is still not quite up to the standards of the VW Passat, it arguably has more flair and a sportier appeal. Peugeot has spent a lot of time ensuring road, wind and engine noise are well suppressed thanks to plenty of sound deadening and some tweaks under the bonnet. All models ride well, although the GT's bigger wheels and stiffer suspension mean that it is firmer than the rest of the range.
Practicality & boot space
The 508 SW is much bigger than the 407 it replaced and it puts this size to good use. Space up front is excellent and there are also plenty of storage spaces for hiding away family life clutter and you’ll find a pair of cup holders up front, too. Rear space is good, with plenty of legroom and headroom, but where the Peugeot excels is in boot space. Not only is space generous with the rear seats up – at 660 litres – but it's positively massive with them down. Operating one-touch controls in the boot drops the rear seats to reveal a load bay of 1,865 litres. That's 132 litres more than you’ll get in a Volkswagen Passat estate and 224 litres more than a Ford Mondeo estate can offer.
Reliability & safety
While the Peugeot 508 SW initially appears to be well built, our 2013 Driver Power survey does not back this up, and Peugeot finished second from last in our list of manufacturers. Electrical niggles have been known to affect the Peugeot's sat-nav system and also cause problems when plugged into to a phone via the USB capable. On the upside, the 508 achieved a five-star Euro NCAP rating so it should be very safe thanks to side and curtain airbags.
Engines, drive & performance
When Peugeot built the 508, it chose to offer it with more sophisticated front suspension on the top-of-the-range GT model. In this specification, the 508 has excellent handling and, although the suspension might be too firm for some tastes, it's by no means uncomfortable. The GT comes fitted with a 2.2-litre diesel engine and an automatic gearbox. It's quick and can get from 0-60mph in 8.2 seconds while still returning good mpg figures. The simpler suspension fitted to the other cars in the range means they are not quite as fun to drive as the GT, but they are available with an excellent selection of engines ranging from an economical 1.6-litre diesel, plus a pair of quieter and faster petrols. The engine that strikes the best balance, however, is the 2.0-litre diesel that can manage 58mpg and 0-60mph in 9.6 seconds.
Price, value for money & options
The basic 508 SW Access gets daytime running lights, air-conditioning and all-round electric windows. SR adds to that list with sat-nav, cruise control and 16-inch alloy wheels. The penultimate Allure models gets half-leather seats, which are heated and electrically adjusted, rear parking sensors, keyless go and a full-length panoramic sunroof, which brings light to the cabin and makes it seem even more spacious. Opt for the GT model and you get sports suspension, a leather interior and a colour head-up display that projects information, such as speed, into the driver's line of sight. You also get bright xenon headlights that are directional – for better lighting during cornering.