Peugeot 508 SW: First report

Black magic? Our menacing new 508 has impressed with its blend of style and practicality

  • Folding seats in a car should be simple, but often develops into a test of mental agility and physical strength the Krypton Factor would be proud of. But the 508 SW has a clever solution I really like and other makers would do well to copy. Pull this flap in the boot and the rear seats flop down immediately.
  • You don’t want anything to take the sheen off getting the keys to your car, so I was disappointed to find corrosion on the brake disc hub peeping through the alloys before I’d even driven the 508. Yes, it had 5,000 miles on the clock, and it’s not a deal-breaker... but it’s annoying nonetheless.

“Any colour so long as it’s black.” Henry Ford’s summary of the Model T is one of the most famous motoring phrases of all-time and over the years, I’ve followed it a little too literally when it comes to clothes, accessories, furniture... anything really. Except, surprisingly, cars.

Why? Well, to my eyes, black cars can look awfully sombre, and show up dirt too easily. However, currently standing resplendent on the Hope driveway is a Nera Black Peugeot 508 SW Allure, and I have to say I rather like it. The estate is a well proportioned, smart-looking car and the moody paintjob adds a hint of menace.

So, as first impressions go, it’s off to a good start. And it’s doing a fine job elsewhere, too. Top of my priorities for any car at present is practicality, on account of my two-year-old daughter and the wealth of gear that follows her around. A decent sized boot of 512 litres easily swallows up her buggy, but handily leaves space for other items, too – like the A1-sized poster I picked up from a framing shop the other weekend.

Wide-opening rear doors make accessing her rotating Maxi Cosi Axiss seat easy, while there’s adequate legroom and headroom in the front and back if you are carrying a car full of passengers.

Encouragingly, there is little to fault in terms of quality, either. Even Peugeot would admit this has not been one of its strong points in recent years, but the 508 is  comfortable and solid inside. It’s certainly the best-quality Peugeot I’ve ever driven.

The switches feel robust, the half-leather upholstery adds a dash of class and the chrome-rimmed dials are a neat touch. But the real showstopper is the panoramic roof.

Simply twist a dial beside the rear view mirror and a roof blind retracts in four stages to reveal the sky above you. It makes the cabin much more airy – and has also cast a spell over my daughter Isla, who simply loves watching it glide back then staring towards the heavens.

Irritations? Only minor ones. The radio control on the right-hand spoke of the steering wheel seems to be located in just the right spot for me to inadvertently change station during certain manoeuvres. And at £24,625, I’d like sat-nav to be standard.

On the road, the 140bhp 2.0-litre HDi engine provides strong performance. It’s torquey and smooth, and effortlessly takes you up to motorway speeds. But it’s the refinement that stands out; this really is a relaxing and stress-free car to drive at pace.

At lower speeds, though, the ride isn’t as accomplished as you’d want, particularly when negotiating speed bumps.

And it’s not an especially involving car to drive, although that won’t be of much concern to most buyers in this market.

Promised fuel economy is 56.5mpg, although we’re falling short of that as the car hasn’t ventured too far out of town. We’ll keep you posted on how the 508 fares as we pile on the miles. Will it be black magic or black marks? Watch this space...

Extra Info

“It’s clear Peugeot is serious about improving quality. The 508’s cabin feels as classy and robust as premium rivals, while the car is refined on the move. But only time will tell if this feeling of solidity lasts.”

James Disdale, Deputy road test editor

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