► Our Peugeot 508 SW long-term test
► We live with Pug's biggest estate car
► Regular updates and real-life test
Delve into the world of Bentley or Rolls-Royce and you won’t find anything quite so crass as an actual price on their websites. Peugeot is quite the opposite. Not only does its online configurator tell you what your chosen paint colour or interior option costs, but it outlines exactly what that would represent on your monthly lease too. This is the way many of us now buy our wheels, and it really does turn the whole experience into an utterly transactional one.
Our selected model is a 508 SW, which starts at £27,630 – or £299 per month based around the Peugeot website’s chosen representative deal. But I want a petrol engine, because I live in London, which immediately rules out the entry-level Active model, so we’re onto at least the Allure spec, and a monthly outlay of £367.11 (or just over £32k in old money).
Next, you’re into the nitty gritty, either choosing options or picking a higher trim level. The options approach is a lesson in separating out what you want versus what you actually need. For instance, £120 for a smartphone charging plate seems like a lot when you could just plug in your mobile – but when it’s presented as £2.80 per month it seems very palatable. And why wouldn’t I want a better hi-fi for £13.79? Panoramic roof for a few pence over 20 quid? Sure. You tell yourself it’s only a drink after work, or a Friday night curry, until you’ve chosen every option. (Except the boot load restraint net. At £4.67, I think not.)
In the end I backed out of the options approach, scared by the mounting costs, and went for the GT spec. It’s the only way into the perkiest petrol engine, a 221bhp 1.6-litre turbo. Paint is either no-cost for grey, £13.44 for most of the rest, or £16.95 if you’re feeling particularly flush and want to stretch to Ultimate Red or Pearlescent White. I should have thrown caution to the wind, because an extra four quid a month would mean I could actually find the damn thing in our road. Twilight Blue, it turns out, is invisible between the hours of 5pm and 7am in winter. A neighbour has a red Peugeot 3008 which sits resplendent – and obvious.
I dodged the extra £7.01 to turn the standard black nappa leather into red, ignored the tow bar, bigger wheels, night vision and panoramic roof options, but spent the equivalent of a burger and chips in London for the 360º bird’s-eye parking cameras. Prices have gone up by around £600 since we ordered, so now you’d be looking at £39,780 all in, or £493.70.
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Which seems like a lot for a Peugeot. When I first became conscious of car prices, Ford Fiestas were £8k, Focuses £10k, Mondeos £15k, and big spenders splash out 20 grand on a BMW 320d. Of course that world doesn’t exist, Fiestas start at £16k and in any case it’s all finance and monthly payments until the cycle begins again when your contract’s up.
Although I’d never lay down close to £40,000 on a Peugeot, it sounds much more appealing as a smartly attractive big French estate on a lease deal. With quilted leather seats, a gorgeous-to-behold interior, all the gadgets, and then the ability to just give it back after a few years and get whatever takes my fancy at the time – that sounds good. And so does the idea of being the person to pick it up secondhand.
We’ll get to the car itself and what it’s like to drive next month, because when you’re buying this way it’s first and foremost about what’s on the spec sheet.
Logbook: Peugeot 508 SW GT 1.6 225
Price £38,605 (£39,780 as tested)
Performance 1598cc turbo four-cyl, 221bhp, 7.3sec 0-62mph, 155mph
Efficiency 39.2mpg (official), 25.5mpg (tested), 124g/km CO2
Energy cost 23.2p per mile
Miles this month 213
Total miles 594
More long-term tests by the CAR magazine team