2015 Peugeot 508 SW – real world review

The 508 is Peugeot’s family saloon and, like all serious attempts to get some market share, comes with a spacious estate version to appeal to the more active family. It takes the fight directly to the Ford Mondeo and the Volkswagen Passat.

Dubbed the SW – the jury’s out on whether that’s Sport or Station Wagon – it’s the biggest non-crossover (or van) that Peugeot makes. With a restyle giving it a new look and new talents, we’ve been putting it through the rigmarole of family life for a week.

Peugeot 508 SW styling

The most dramatic styling changes come at the front – gone are the big triangular light units that characterised the brand through the Noughties, replaced with more trapezoidal units that incorporate a cut out to mimic the new 308’s look.

The grille has seen a significant change too, again dropping the last-generation’s sloping jawline for a new thinner and flatter affair. The Peugeot Lion has moved off the nose and into this grille too, making the bonnet lines cleaner. There’s a restyling of the lower part of the nose, with some large, angled indicators replacing the old units – we wish these had the sliding function like the new 308 GT’s blinkers.

Head around the sides and you’ll spot no change. The estate keeps the same look as before and you’ll quickly notice that, unlike most estates that keep a flat top for as long as possible, the roofline starts to plunge back to Earth before the front doors have even finished. It gives a nice overall shape to the car, but the top of the windowline falls at a slightly quicker rate which makes the rearmost roof pillar a little inconsistently thick. We’re not too sure about that kink at the back of the window either – it’s approaching the point where it looks like it came from a BMW.

You’ll struggle to spot anything different about the back end too, which is good news because there was nothing to dislike about it in the first place. The general picture now is one of effortless class, especially with the whole car clad in a classy dark brown shade that’s so black we didn’t even notice it was brown until the sun came out after we had washed it.

Peugeot 508 SW interior

The main difference inside is the change in infotainment controller from a centrally-mounted dial to a touchscreen – with the space the dial formerly sat in replaced by a small change pocket. Little else has changed that we can tell.

It’s still a pretty suave setting, but there are a couple of weird touches that cause a bit of head-scratching. The first is a pair of growths three quarters of the way up each A-pillar that seem to house sensors for the interior alarm. To say they stick out like sore thumbs would be underplaying it and they’ll annoy you once pointed out. Also odd is the decision to retain the dash-mounted pop-out cupholders, which are not only the wrong size for any drink we tried but obstruct the touchscreen too.

There’s plenty of room all around the cabin and it’s well isolated from the external environment. The boot is better than adequate and comes with excellent one-touch folding rear seats and a cargo net – our model was also equipped with an electric tailgate that provides effortless operation. As a £480 option, this is one worthy of consideration.

You won’t have to think about the panoramic glass roof though. It’s standard on Allure models like this one and above, which is nice to see given that such big panes of glass really do add something to the ambience of just about every estate car we’ve tried.

Peugeot 508 SW engine

Pulling this car about is the 2.0 diesel “BlueHDi”, with a six-speed manual gearbox fitted. This engine produces 148hp and 273lb ft of torque, posting an impressive 67.3mpg combined rating, while dispatching the 0-60mph dash in 10 seconds.

The 508 was pressed into an urban-heavy routine in our custody, with more than a little bias towards the twin horrors of the school run and rush hour, and still managed to better 50mpg – according to the trip computer. The occasional blast on an open road revealed it to be adequately powerful.

Peugeot 508 SW driving

It used to be the case that, if you wanted to blend handling and ride quality in the same car, you went for Peugeot – but this reputation has waned and, in the case of the 508 SW, you’re certainly getting one rather than the other.

We certainly can’t complain about the ride. It’s perhaps not as silken as true luxury vehicles nor quite as attuned for softness as the Peugeot’s siblings at Citroen, but it puts the majority of other mainstream brands utterly to shame. There’s perhaps a little more of a rattle from the back of the SW than the saloon when you’re the lone occupant, but get some passengers in and it’s pretty hushed.

Instead, it’s the handling that causes a furrowed brow. The electric power steering system used here is, while consistently weighted, just about absent of feel. Combined with the noticeable body roll, it can make the 508 a bit tricky to place down a set of sweeping bends.

Not one for keen drivers then, but it does fit the bill as an excellent and stressless mile muncher – and the light steering makes for an easily manouevrable car when you hit the shops.

Peugeot 508 SW value for money

This Allure model hits the market at that £27k sweet spot where just about everyone has a family estate to offer and that means it needs a lot of kit to compete.

It hits out straight away with a standard panoramic roof – something that’ll set you back a grand on some competitors – and just about everything else you’ll see in our pictures is also standard. That includes every ounce of the safety suite including collision mitigation braking and Peugeot SOS – a system which calls the emergency services automatically in the event of a crash – the navigation, DAB radio, keyless entry and starting, half leather throughout and electric everything.

With most bases covered, it’s tough to see what you’d even need the options list for – though our car added the power tailgate (£480) and some natty LED headlights (£1,000). We’d probably not bother with either though and stick with the £27,195 standard car which seems pretty sharp value indeed.

Peugeot 508 SW verdict

The 508 SW doesn’t quite hit an everyman remit thanks to the slightly floppy handling, but then that’s hardly the world’s biggest weak spot – it’s a comfortable family estate car and the only people who’d want it to drive like a hot hatch are thirtysomething motoring writers. Their passengers and pets would much rather a smooth ride than an engaging experience.

The facelift keeps what was good and adds a distinctly suave finish to round it off. It might not be the choice of the driving enthusiast, but it’s one for the connoisseurs – with a mainstream badge and pricing.

What next?

Check out our reviews of the Peugeot 508 SW, Ford Mondeo estate and the Volkswagen Passat estate. Then head over to our car configurator to see how much you could save on your next car.

Peugeot 508 SW

Stylish, practical estate car with class-leading refinement
£24,905 - £33,305
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