A significant number of Peugeot 508 customers choose the SW estate version - and you can see why. It's sensibly practical, yet very good looking. And of course it also benefits from all the technology that's revitalised the improved version of the four-door second generation 508 model's proposition in the ever more competitive medium range market.
The humble station wagon. No longer quite so humble these days. In fact, estates have become something of a fashion statement in recent years. You'd choose one over the ordinary saloon model even if you didn't necessarily need the extra carrying space. Most Peugeot 508 buyers do. Here's the 508 SW model, in this case rejuvenated to take on a raft of tough rivals including estate versions of models like the Skoda Superb and the Volkswagen Passat. So today, what does a potential 508 SW buyer now really want? Experience in the market suggests three things: style, class and technology. In response, Peugeot has put a lot more thought into this car. It looks more up-market - and we're promised that it will feel that way when you take a seat behind the wheel. There's extra hi-tech equipment too, with things you'd have to pay extra for on some rivals. So, has the French brand got this recipe right? Let's find out.
As you'd expect, this SW variant drives just as its saloon stablemate does. The hardware certainly looks promising here and there are no significant mechanical updates. Which is surprising because on the base PureTech 130 petrol model, we'd expected to see the mild hybrid 48V tech lately introduced into this engine in the 3008 and 5008 SUVs; doubtless that'll be along shortly. As before, that 1.2-litre three cylinder engine putting out 130hp can only be had with EAT8 8-speed auto transmission. This time round though, there's no accompanying alternative 1.5-litre four cylinder BlueHDi diesel. To replace diesel drive, Peugeot can offer you a Plug-in Hybrid powertrain based around a 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine, mated to a 110hp electric motor powered by a 12.4kWh battery. There's a mainstream Hybrid 225 variant with this poweryrain which manages to WLTP-rated EV driving range figure of 42.3 miles. If you want to go faster in a 508 Hybrid SW, you'll need the pricey Peugeot Sport Engineered 360hp 4WD version, which trims the 0-62mph time to just 5.2s. What's a mainstream 508 SW like on the road? Well Peugeot's bold claim at the original launch of this car was that "if you drive it, you'll buy it". That's a slight exaggeration but you might be surprised by just how crisply this 508 responds - and of course it's a consummate high speed cruiser, aided by a well-judged supple multi-link rear suspension set-up. At the wheel of any 508, you're positioned in front of Peugeot's distinctive 'i-Cockpit' dashboard layout, which as usual, sees you looking over the rim of the steering wheel at the instrument dials, rather than conventionally through it. And as usual, the leather-stitched tiller in question is a small, grippy thing which gives you the illusion of greater interaction with the car. Or maybe it won't be an illusion. Higher-spec models are fitted out with adaptive damping. And all variants get the usual drive modes system, which adapts steering, throttle and gear change timings to the way you want to drive.
If you were familiar with the original version of this second generation 508 SW, you'll immediately notice that the front end of this updated model has a considerably sleeker look. There are now three lighting 'fangs' and a redesigned grille, similar to that which features on the smaller 408, has gloss and textured black features, as well as the latest Peugeot emblem. Plus the narrow beady LED headlights now have standard-fit matrix tech. As before, the idea with this estate model is to bring the radical styling traits of the 508 saloon to station wagon customers. At just 1.42m in height and 4.79m long, the 508 SW's proportions give it quite a dynamic body shape, stylised by smooth, flowing lines and a sleek, low roof. The look is further enhanced further by exterior details, including frameless doors - a unique estate car feature for a mainstream carmaker. As before, the unusual style-led exterior looks are mirrored by an original interior, with a redesigned dashboard and centre console. The fascia's still highlighted, as mentioned in our 'Driving' section, by the usual Peugeot i-Cockpit dashboard design, plus there's a large 10-inch capacitive infotainment touchscreen angled towards the driver and you can have a 12.3-inch head-up digital instrument display. The centre screen benefits from updated media tech, allowing for wider customisation options. The auto gear shifter's different too, switching from the previous old-school 'trigger' to the more discreet finger-pull selector that now features on other Stellantis Group models. The rear seat space is reasonable, but three adults will need to be on friendly terms. As for practicality, there's a hands-free, powered tailgate, a 530-litre boot and a 'Magic Flat' function for the rear bench seat which retracts to reveal a total load space capacity of 1780-litres (both those figures for conventionally-engined models).
You'll need to think in terms of 508 SW pricing starting from around £35,000. With this updated range, there are only two mainstream trim options - 'Allure' and 'GT', plus the top high performance PHEV 'Peugeot Sport Engineered' model, for which you'll need around £55,000. All 508 SWs have EAT8 auto transmission and this estate commands a £1,200 premium over the equivalent Fastback hatch body shape. Even base 'Allure'-spec gives you Connected 3D Navigation with voice recognition, automatic dual zone climate control and the 'Peugeot i-Cockpit' digital instrument binnacle screen. At the top of the range on plush variants, you can specify equipment like a superb 'FOCAL' surround sound Hi-Fi system, night vision and adaptive damping. There's also a 360-degree colour camera system and you can add a wireless smartphone charging plate to keep your mobile's battery topped up during long drives. The wrap-around seats can be had with five multi-point massage programmes, there's a range of premium and sophisticated trim and upholstery materials and you can have a panoramic opening glass roof. All the usual drive assistance elements are included - and you can have level two semi-autonomous capability. Expect to find features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane assist, rear parking sensors, a rear reversing camera and an automatic high beam.
Peugeot usually specialises in extremely efficient running cost returns and this 508 SW is no different in that regard. Let's get to the WLP-rated figures. For the 1.2 PureTech 130 petrol SW version with its EAT8 auto transmission, the figures are up to 50.0mpg on the combined cycle and up to 127g/km of CO2. For really frugal running cost returns though, you'll need the clever Hybrid 225 plug-in SW variant, which returns up to 274.8mpg on the combined cycle. This uses an 12.4kWh battery which can be fully charged in under two hours using a standard 7.4kW Wallbox. Once that's done, an all-electric WLTP-rated driving range of up to 42.3 miles is possible. Even better news is the CO2 reading applied to this model, up to 23g/km, which means that it attracts a Benefit-in-Kind rate for company car drivers of just 10%. The faster PSE Hybrid4 SW model manages 158.5mpg and 40g/km. Of course running costs are about a lot more than just fuel economy and CO2 readings, so what else are you going to need to know? Well, there's the usual unremarkable three year/60,000-mile warranty. And if you are paying for maintenance work, you can budget ahead for it by taking up Peugeot's 'Service Plan' that for a fixed monthly fee, can cover you for up to 50,000 miles of motoring over either three or five years.
This improved version of the second generation 508 SW is smarter, cleverer and better equipped. In other words, we're talking about a very complete package. Would you really want the kind of stripped-out, basic BMW 3 Series Touring or Audi A4 Avant you'd have to pay more for in preference to one of these? More pertinently perhaps, would you rather have a more ordinary-feeling Volkswagen Passat or Skoda Superb estate? These are key questions if you're in the market for a conventional spacious station wagon of this sort. Try a 508 SW and you might well find that answering them is a little easier.