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The Top Gear car review:Peugeot 508 SW
For:The degree of general improvement is amazing. Nicely styled, too
Against:It's not the most spacious car for the money
1.6 HDi 112 Active 5dr
What we say:
Surprise, surprise - Peugeot deals up another car we'd actually consider buying
What is it?
Another eyebrow-raising effort from a brand we’d all but written off a few years ago, the 508 SW is the even better estate version of Peugeot’s unexpectedly good mid-sized model. Quality is impressive and so too, we all think, is the styling. And these cars drive with real ability, taking power from some of the best engines around. This is impressive stuff from Peugeot, and yours for a very decent price.
The 508 SW is not noticeably held back by the extra weight that it carries over the saloon. The same suspension set-up, with MacPherson struts at the front and an independent multi-link rear, give it good poise and stability. The car breezes over high-speed A-roads, sucking up the undulations and keeping driver and passengers free from jolts and vibrations.
The steering is nicely weighted as well. It’s not on a par with the Ford Mondeo, but is markedly better than its sister car, the Citroen C5, and allows the driver to feel like their inputs are being attended to swiftly and accurately. It strikes the right balance for a car like this, allowing for comfort and relaxation on the motorway without totally foregoing the ability to weave cross-country at a reasonable lick.
There are good petrol and diesel engines to choose from, but if you have high miles in mind then we’d always counsel finding the extra investment to get at least the 1.6-litre HDi. The 2.0-litre and 2.2-litre HDi units are even better still. The most intriguing is the diesel-hybrid RXH, blending low-speed electric running with higher-speed diesel torque. The electric motor is mounted at the back, thus giving a form of four-wheel drive, which Peugeot has enhanced with an Audi Allroad-style makeover.
On the inside
The 508’s interior is a huge leap forward for Peugeot, not just in keeping it competitive with the rest of the mid-priced saloons, but also in gaining on the pricier and mostly German end of the market. This is the most convincing effort at high quality on a more modest budget. Soft-touch plastics and nice design details abound. The front and rear are both comfortable and light, made all the more so by the option of a full-length panoramic sunroof. The SW’s boot is decent enough at 512 litres, although admittedly this can’t rival the Mondeo.
Peugeot’s reputation for reliability is something we can’t ignore but, judging by the improvements in perceived quality, it’s worth giving it the benefit of the doubt. Low running costs, particularly with the tax-dodging e-HDi, means you’ll only break the bank if you shop silly (the RXH starts at £33,695!). However, do be aware of the car’s heavy depreciation.