Peugeot 508 SW: Put through its paces

  • Motorway jaunt and country B-roads prove a good test
  • Can its performance match its practicality prowess?
  • Comfortable cruiser with a strong diesel engine

While my trip to the Lake District was an excellent test for the Peugeot 508 SW’s practicality, it also provided an insight into the car's performance too.

The route we take from Peterborough to Langdale, the same one we’ve done for some years now, takes little more than five hours. This may seem long, but that’s because we like to chuck in a mid-way lunch stop at Bedale and go across country for the final leg.

The first three hours are spent on the A1, however. This is where the big estate shows why it’s likely to be so popular among company car drivers, as well as private users.

Producing 140bhp, the 2.0-litre diesel engine will reach the 62mph mark in 10.1 seconds. This is pretty good when you consider the car is almost five metres long and weighs 1,681kg. Get it up to motorway speeds and it will cruise along with ease.

The diesel engine can sound a little gruff at lower speeds or when you put your foot down, but at 70mph engine noise is almost non-existent. The same applies to road and wind noise, making a long journey calm and quiet – apart from the Kate Bush mix my passenger insisted on.

As well as the engine and refinement impressing, the gearbox is also very good. It’s taken the company some time, but it seems it has finally got close to perfecting the manual gearbox – don’t remind me of the 207 SW. It’s fairly smooth and precise, though it’s not quite up there with the best yet – Mazda and Ford, in particular, have some of the best.

All of this meant that the first leg of our trip went pretty well. As we pulled up to the usual lunch stop, I got out of the car after three hours feeling fresh. The seats were incredibly comfortable and it didn’t feel as though I had been driving for that long at all.

After a quick bit of lunch and cup of tea, we were soon setting off for the second part of the journey. This is where it turned into narrow country roads filled with tight corners, plenty of steep hills and rather hazardous-looking dry stone walls.

This is where I thought the Peugeot might get caught out. The long body works against it here, with a bit of body lean in corners and not much in way of engagement but, on reflection, it handled it well enough and felt no worse than other big estates would in the same environment.

As well as the 140bhp, the 508 SW also produces a substantial 320Nm of pull. This was a big advantage when you’re suddenly faced with a hill with a 16% incline. Only on the rare occasions, on some of the biggest hills, did I need to change down gears. Our convoy also included a Volkswagen Tiguan 138bhp 2.0-litre BlueMotion and even the driver of that commented on how well the Peugeot coped with the steep terrain.

The dry-stone walls that border these smaller roads are rather intimidating but the Peugeot never felt too big and there were no worries of catching the sharp rocks flicking by on the passenger’s side.

After a couple of hours of this we made it to our annual meeting point, the Britannia Inn pub at Ambleside. This is where the first problem arrived. The small country pub isn’t exactly blessed with a big car park and I found myself attempting to back into a tight space with a heavy duty fence behind and not wanting to block anywhere with the front of the car. The absence of parking sensors was truly highlighted here. While I know this shows how some of us have become far too dependent on these kinds of things – I had no problems parking my dad’s old Astra estate when I passed my test – it also made me realise how not specifying them on this car was a big mistake.

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Current mileage: 3876 miles

Average mpg: 48.7