Peugeot 508 SW 1.6 THP 225 GT
Put the GTi connotations out of your mind. This is no raucous hot hatch, but a GT car. It stands for ‘Grand Tourer’ and the 508 SW is great at eating up miles. Sleek design on the outside meets a wonderfully-designed cabin with high-quality materials. Space is generous in the rear, and the SW has a decent-sized boot. The biggest drawback is perceived value: add a couple of optional extras and you’re north of £40,000.
When it comes to family estate cars, and executive ones at that, there are a fair few to choose from. As a result, this is a hard segment to stand out in.
With that in mind, it’s hats off to Peugeot for the latest 508 SW, because it is a stunning piece of design. So much so, that it gets plenty of second looks as you drive through town. It’s not hard to see why; especially finished in rather sophisticated Amazonite Grey, which has a greeny-brown tint to it.
At the front, slim headlight units are a stark contrast to the enormous LED daytime running lights which stretch right down to the bottom of the bumper, and double up as indicators. The grille is almost concave in shape, giving the 508 SW a snarly and poised look.
At the side you get 19-inch alloy wheels, and our test car had the optional two-tone version. This blended well with the gloss black door mirrors, window surrounds and roof rails. Frameless doors are stylish, and the extra-dark privacy glass gives a premium feel.
At the rear, the focal point is the black bar running the full width of the tailgate. Incorporated into this are the taillights which, when illuminated red on black, are reminiscent of Knight Rider. They even do the sweeping left to right and back when you unlock the car.
Being the GT model you get two exhaust pipes – one at either side – and a subtle roof spoiler. A final premium touch is the word “Peugeot” imprinted under the rear window. It’s a refreshing alternative to the traditional badge.
Climb on board, and it’s plain to see that Peugeot has put significant effort into giving the 508 SW GT a cabin as stylish as its exterior.
There are sculpted nappa leather seats featuring a geometric quilted design and contrast stitching. The same contrast stitching is featured on the centre console, armrests, steering wheel and even the dashboard.
One thing that’s become a Peugeot staple is the i-Cockpit. It wraps around the driver to give an immersive experience. There’s a 12.3-inch ‘head-up’ instrument cluster which sits higher than usual so as to be visible above the tiny steering wheel. The 508 SW has a two-spoke steering wheel with flat top and bottom.
Continuing the cockpit feel is a new gear selector – which resembles a joystick – and the toggle-style switches for the infotainment system. It’s also great how the 10-inch touchscreen is somewhat-integrated into, but also protrudes from, the dashboard.
The dashboard itself is almost split into two levels. The upper level is slim, and incorporates the air vents and instrument cluster. The lower level is finished in a carbon-effect, soft-touch material and is shelf-like in its design.
On the whole, the cabin materials are of high quality. And everything is screwed together properly. Look harder though, and you’ll find some plastics that leave a little to be desired. Thankfully they are mostly out of sight, but the steering wheel centre could have been finished in leather to really elevate the i-Cockpit.
The engine in our 508 SW GT was a somewhat unusual choice. There are three engines available in the GT; petrol, diesel and hybrid. Ours was the petrol, which is probably the one you will see the least on UK roads: expect the diesel to be the most popular choice.
So our petrol engine then? It’s a 1.6-litre, turbocharged unit pushing out 225PS and 300Nm of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via an 8-speed Efficient Automatic Transmission (EAT). Performance figures make for an interesting read: 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 155mph.
But those figures only tell half the story. The 508 SW GT is quick, but in its own way. There’s no real urgency about it. Yes, it will happily be taken to the highest heights of its rev band. But it will sort of meander there at a seemingly leisurely pace; taking longer to reach the next gear than you’d expect of a car with eight ratios to choose from.
You may be thinking that 1.6-litres is not a particularly large engine in a car this size, but it never feels inadequate from behind the wheel. There’s more than enough grunt to overtake on the motorway, and with the EAT8 gearbox it’s a quiet and civilised place.
There are four drive modes: normal, comfort, eco and sport. In our time with the car we mostly swapped between comfort – on longer drives – and sport.
In sport mode, the throttle response is sharpened, the dials glow red, and the engine sound is amplified through the speakers. It’s nice for a fun A or B-road, but there are more thrilling cars out there for those who want that: a Skoda Octavia vRS for example.
The different drive modes are especially useful when it comes to the ride characteristics. The 508 SW GT comes with active suspension as standard, which means that the damping adjusts based on the road conditions; and also depending which more you’re in.
In sport mode, everything is firmer and more composed. That’s great for when you’re on an undulating B-road and wish to avoid wallowing over every bump.
In contrast, however, comfort mode is soft and relaxing. On a long motorway drive, the forgiving suspension is a luxury. Even on 19-inch alloys the 508 SW GT rides well.
Steering feel is lacking, but the Peugeot makes up for it with that dinky steering wheel. Small inputs are exaggerated, giving an enhanced sense of directness. In sport mode it has a nice weight too.
Gearshift paddles are fixed to the steering column, but to be honest there’s no real benefit to using them. They never seem to connect you to the gearbox in the way that they would with a DSG.
There is also no dedicated manual mode. Which means that even when you’re using the paddles the gearbox will change up of its own accord if you so much as venture near the redline. And given that you’ve probably pulled the ‘up’ paddle at the same time, you end up going up another gear. And that soon becomes tiresome.
So whilst the 508 SW GT doesn’t will you to get involved and drive like you’re on a rally stage, it does something much better. It manages to be brisk without breaking a sweat. It’s relaxing to drive and, like any good GT car should do, eats up mile after mile.
The major plus point of a smaller, 1.6-litre engine is the economy benefits over bigger, thirstier engines. And despite being a large family estate car the 508 SW GT is very economical indeed.
Fuel consumption, on the combined WLTP cycle, is a very respectable 37.4mpg. As is generally the case with WLTP figures, this is more than achievable day-to-day. In fact, on a longer motorway drive we saw figures north of 40mpg, and that’s extremely impressive.
That being said, it’s still short of the combined 45.7mpg offered by the BlueHDi 180 diesel engine also available in the GT. And in truth, that will most likely be the best-selling engine in this trim.
CO2 emissions are converted back to NEDC-equivalent figures for VED and BIK purposes. The THP 225 emits 124g/km of CO2, and that will be good news to both private and company car users alike.
For private individuals, that equates to a first year VED of £170, and subsequent years of £145. If you can avoid the options list then you can avoid the VED surcharge too!
As far as company car users are concerned, the fact that this particular model is doubly beneficial. Firstly, the BIK % is lower on petrol engines than it is diesel. At the time of writing, 124g/km CO2 on the petrol is 28%. The 110g/km CO2 on the diesel means BIK of 30%.
Secondly, it’s actually cheaper than the diesel, albeit not by much. So it’s a lower percentage of a (slightly) lower price.
Auto start/stop technology features on all models, and the eco drive mode helps to save fuel by reducing throttle response and being in the optimal gear for efficiency.
If you want your family car to be a practical, then you will not be disappointed with a Peugeot 508 SW. The styling may be sleek, almost coupe-like in fact, but that doesn’t translate to the interior.
Space is generous throughout the cabin, but especially so when it comes to rear leg room. Tall adults – and we mean properly tall, 6-foot plus – will be extremely comfortable back there. The outer rear seats themselves have long leg cushions to provide good support, and feature the same geometric quilting as the front seats.
The middle seat is not quite as well-suited to adults; the transmission tunnel requires you to put your legs either side of it. Nonetheless, three adults can fit in the back, which is useful.
Front seat passengers will be even more comfortable, thanks to those contoured nappa leather seats. They even come with a lumbar massage feature with various intensity levels and massage patterns. On a long journey this keeps you relaxed, such that you will arrive at your destination feeling fresh.
Boot space is very much as you would expect from a large estate car. With the rear seats up, load space is 530 litres up to the rear window. Fold the rear seats down, and load to the roof, and this rises to a whopping 1,780 litres. More than enough for a haul at Ikea that’s for sure!
It is expected that a family car will have to deal with child seats. To do just that, the 508 SW GT has three – yes, three – ISOFIX mounting points. The outer rear seats, and the front passenger seat, can all take ISOFIX car seats. And that’s great for those with multiple children, or those who like their mini-me to ride shotgun.
Thanks to manufacturers like Kia and Hyundai, we have come to expect more gadgets and goodies in even the most basic cars. When you get a heated steering wheel as standard in a Kia Picanto, it only makes you want more from an executive family estate such as the Peugeot 508 SW GT.
Thankfully the Peugeot obliges, with a standard specification that gives the Koreans a run for their money. The GT sits at the top of the range, benefiting from the most comprehensive specification. There was a First Edition model at launch, but these are now only available as stock dictates.
All 508 SW models have plenty of equipment to shout about. Frankly the list goes on and on, so we’ll focus on the most impressive.
The aforementioned i-Cockpit is standard across the range, as are heated power folding door mirrors. There’s a push-button start, one-touch electric windows, “magic wash” front wipers (which have washer nozzles incorporated into the blade), LED daytime running lights and rear LED lights.
On the safety front you get Emergency Brake Assist, speed limit recognition, electronic stability programme, eco-coaching, electric child locks and a driver attention alert system.
As you climb up the range you get a safety pack; advanced autonomous emergency braking, distance alert and lane keep assist. Atomatic dual-zone climate control creeps in, as does a navigation system, full phone integration (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink), keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera and wireless charging pad.
GT models feature active suspension, adaptive cruise control with lane positioning assist, FOCAL premium hi-fi system, nappa leather, electric front seats with massage function and driver memory and a foot-operated smart electric tailgate.
Value For Money
Finally we come to the notion of price. It’s surprisingly easy to spend £40,000 on a car nowadays. The rise of PCP and leasing as a method of car ownership somewhat negates the importance of list price. But it is relevant since the introduction of the VED surcharge, which adds £320 for five years.
The 508 SW range starts from a reasonable £27,630, for the 1.5-litre BlueHDi Active. By the time you get to the top-spec GT model –the 1.6-litre THP 225 petrol we tested here – the starting price is £38,605.
Yes, that may seem like a lot, but you have to consider the level of specification, and how that stacks up to rivals. You may not think of the Peugeot 508 in the same ilk as the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class but it has the style, the quality and – in GT specification especially – the technology to compete with these cars. And if you compared a similar spec 3 Series or C-Class you will find that it costs more than £40,000.
Naturally, list price is only half the story. It is not yet known what your £38,000 Peugeot will be worth in three, five or even seven years’ time. That would be a worry, because I suspect residuals would be less than they would for the German alternatives.
The final consideration is the options list. Thankfully the 508 SW GT is so well-equipped that you would be fine with a standard one. But there are some extras available, and costly ones at that. A panoramic roof is £870. Night vision is £1,300. Metallic and special paints are £575 and £725 respectively.
You could soon tip the 508 SW GT over £40,000 – our test car was – but you’d have to consider whether that’s worth the extra VED costs.
Facts and Figures
|Engine||1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Max power||225PS at 5,500rpm|
|Max torque||300Nm at 2,750rpm|
|Drivetrain||8-speed Efficient Automatic Transmission (EAT), front-wheel drive|
|Fuel tank size||62 litres|
|Fuel consumption||37.4 mpg combined, WLTP|
|CO2 emissions||124 g/km NEDC equivalent|
|Towing capacity||1,600kg braked / 745kg unbraked|
|Luggage capacity||530 litres|
|NCAP rating||5 stars|
|Price as tested||£41,650|