Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Wide range of petrol and diesel engines available
  • Automatic gearboxes for all but one of them
  • Strong performance from majority of the line-up

The range of engines available for the 508 SW is extensive, sharing the entire line-up with the Fastback. That means a selection of petrol and diesel engines, as well as a plug-in hybrid that will likely appeal to company car drivers.

PureTech petrol engines

Two petrols are available for the SW – both of which are 1.6 litres in size and turbocharged. There’s the PureTech 180 offering 180hp and 250Nm, which is capable of getting from 0-62mph in 8.0 seconds. It comes exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and is a bit of a sweet spot in the range.

It won’t blow you away with rapid performance, but it’s a great all-round fit in the 508 and mixes adequate performance with impressive refinement, which is more a priority in an estate car than outright speed. If you do need an extra turn of speed, there’s a noticeable pick-up when you put the car in Sport mode. For most though, it’s more than enough and a nice alternative to diesel.

If you want more power from your petrol 508, there’s the PureTech 225, with 225hp and 300Nm of torque, but only available in top-spec GT models, meaning there’s quite a hike in price over the PureTech 180. And while it’ll get to 62mph from a standstill marginally quicker at 7.4 seconds, most of the time you won’t notice this when you’re just bumbling about town. It requires a little less effort when you do need some extra oomph, but we’re not sure it’s worth the extra outlay.

Again, this engine comes with the EAT8 automatic gearbox as standard with no manual alternative.

BlueHDi diesel engines

Kicking off the diesel range is a BlueHDi 130, with 130hp and 221Nm of torque. It’s the only engine available with a six-speed manual gearbox (although you can also specify the automatic). For the manual, 0-62mph takes 9.9 seconds, while the automatic completes the sprint in 10.1 seconds.

Alternatively, there’s a 2.0-litre BlueHDi in 163hp and 180hp outputs. The top-spec model comes exclusively in GT trim, and produces 177hp and 295Nm of torque, making this the strongest engine in the line-up for pulling power. As such, it completes the 0-62mph sprint in 8.4 seconds, but still manages to return decent fuel economy.

It’s a great fit in the 508, pulling strongly from low revs while remaining quiet and civilised – rarely becoming vocal even when you’re pushing it. But you don’t really feel the need to do that in this car. What’s more impressive is the strong pull at motorway speeds, making it a great long-distance option.

Plug-in hybrid version joins the range in 2020

There's a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) 508 SW for those looking for a tax-friendly version – and although we've yet to drive it in estate form, we've tested the Fastback PHEV. Maximum power is 225hp, although in petrol-mode only it will still deliver 180hp, while the same figure for battery-mode only is 110hp.

The big news for company car drivers is that it puts out 27g/km in the five-door Fastback form and is good for a 39-mile range on purely electric power. As well as being tax- and (potentially) fuel-friendly, it's quick too. In Sport driving mode, the 0-62mph time is 5.9 seconds and it's good for a maximum speed of 155mph. In Electric mode, it will behave like a 110hp EV, and in Hybrid drives like a standard hybrid car such as a Toyota Prius.

You also get a Comfort mode, but if our experience in the Fastback 508 is anything to go by, this car is best in Sport. It combines both the petrol engine and electric motors and proves highly useful around town, where the electric motors make the most difference from low speeds. You also get a B mode for the transmission system which activates the car’s regenerative braking system, allowing the driver to slow down effectively by backing off the accelerator.

Eight-speed auto transmission for all

With eight smoothly-shifting ratios in the automatic transmission to choose from (a standard fit on all models barring the BlueHDi 130), none of the engines is ever left gasping outside its sweet spot. We liked the steering column-mounted gearshift paddles too – they’re easier to use on the move than ones attached to a constantly moving ‘wheel, although they do feel a little cheap.

Go for the manual gearbox and it’s a more effective manual gearbox than we’ve found in previous Peugeots. It can still feel a little vague, but it doesn’t feel flimsy and the positioning of the lever itself on the centre console is nicely high and falls naturally to hand.

There are drive modes on offer here too, though we’d suggest Sport is probably best left alone – sit back and enjoy the supportive seats instead, because if you go too quickly around a corner you’ll find their lateral support leaves a little to be desired. In all other aspects, however, on the high-spec cars we tried, the seats impressed with their adjustability and suppleness – more so than in more expensive executive rivals. 

Comfort seems to suit the 508’s character far better by softening the control weights, while Normal is the default setting and sits in the middle. Manual simply allows the driver to change gears themselves with the paddleshifters.

Handling

  • Shares similar characteristics with the 508 Fastback
  • Which means it’s surprisingly agile for a large car
  • Quick steering makes it feel sharper than it is

The 508 SW is a big car, but it doesn’t feel too huge on the move. That’s – in large part – due to the i-Cockpit setup which features a far smaller steering wheel than you’d find in any of its rivals. The steering is quick too, so you find yourself getting around a corner with very little turning of the wheel. In turn this makes the 508 feel more agile than many of its rivals, but there’s little in the way of feedback through the steering wheel and it’s very light in Comfort and Normal modes.

We found that the small i-Cockpit wheel takes some getting used to. It can be difficult to adjust to the inputs required - again, a product of having relatively light steering and such a small wheel. However, once you're entrenched, the system works well, and it's not so twitchy on faster roads to be annoying.

The drive mode selector also allows you to switch to a Sport mode which firms up the adaptive suspension (available on all barring BlueHDi 130 models) and weights up the steering. This makes it feel like you need to put a bit of extra effort into getting the car around a corner, but it’s not quite on BMW levels of responsiveness. It does feel quite similar to how the Volvo V60 drives. It’s all very well controlled and easy to judge, just not very involving.

That’s not the end of the world in a car like this, as an estate car isn’t for throwing around on a twisty B-road. Take it easy and it remains composed and nicely balanced, with good body control for such a large car, and impressive grip.