Our Peugeot 508 SW long-termer: buying it gifts

Published: 18 August 2020

► Our Peugeot 508 SW long-term test
► We live with Pug's biggest estate car
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In the weeks leading up to the UK's lockdown I spent a lot of time in the 508 – a combination of family trips out of London most weekends and a few trips up to CAR HQ that avoided the public transport I'd usually use.

Solo work journeys saw my phone wirelessly charging in the centre console, a podcast playing clearly through the Focal hi-fi, and fuel consumption ticking above 35mpg too. The family trips, being short visits, didn't tax the boot, which can seem annoyingly small.

The countryside's combination of leaves and mud accumulating inside saw me purchase a hand-held vacuum to keep the 508 clean, a sure sign that I rather like it.

By Ben Pulman

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), 35.2mpg (tested), 124g/km CO2
Energy cost 16.4p per mile
Miles this month 680
Total miles 3195

Month 3 living with a 508 SW: it was sent to test us

508 SW interior

Time – the great healer. Take the steering wheel. Peugeot started shrinking them back in 2012 with the last-gen 208 and its 'i-Cockpit' design. It had a shrunken wheel that you looked over, rather than through, to see the dials. With your hands bunched close together like you would in a Caterham, it exacerbated the nimbleness. Perfect for a city car, then.

In the 508, though, with a tiny wheel in your hands you feel like you've been forced to buy a vehicle one size too small. And rather than the dials being raised up higher on the dash, it's more like the wheel has been artificially restricted in rake adjustment. Add in an electric seat that won't go low enough, and everything meets in the middle.

But then, the steering is quick, so you rarely need more than a quarter of turn of lock, the point at which my knuckles would bash my knees. In short, I've got used to it.

Elsewhere I've used my problem-solving skills to deactivate the incessant warning noises that bonged as you approached a speed camera, bonged as you passed it, bonged ahead of average speed cameras, and bonged again once you were through.

Given the fact that a variety of symbols pop up on the dials too – right in your eyeline, remember, now the steering wheel is so small – the audio warnings seemed unnecessary. I eventually found the crucial settings not in the menu alongside the safety systems, but within the in-built TomTom sat-nav. The infant can now sleep uninterrupted, while the Peugeot silently warns of approaching speed cameras.

So that's sorted now. We're good. Everything is how I like it. Unless you stop the car, even for a few minutes to, say, fill will fuel. At which point the 508 SW severs the Bluetooth connection with your phone – and when you restart the car your quietly-playing podcast is replaced by a blaring radio. The driving mode selector also resets itself. And yet if you killed the ignition with the heated seat on, that reactivates when you start the car. Why?

By Ben Pulman

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), 32.3mpg (tested), 124g/km CO2
Energy cost 16.4p per mile
Miles this month 659
Total miles 2515

Month 2 living with a Peugeot 508 SW: tailgate tribulations

508 SW boot

Every new car is bigger than the one it replaces, right? Not so the 508. Peugeot proudly points out the 508 SW is 2cm shorter than the previous model, and nearly 6cm lower. Great, except boot space beneath the luggage cover is 30 litres less than before – and 130 litres behind the one-class-down 308 SW.

I don't want to drive a box on wheels, but if a weekend away requires us to fit a roofbox it rather undoes the sleekness of the Peugeot's design. One detail highlights the problem: there's a little cut-back between the rear lights and rear bumper, which looks snazzy but pinches the crucial few centimetres our pram needs to fit. Spin it through 90º and it can fit, but nothing can get in alongside.

By Ben Pulman

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), 33.5mpg (tested), 124g/km CO2
Energy cost 17.1p per mile
Miles this month 707
Total miles 1856

Month 2 living with a Peugeot 508 SW: when I press this switch...

508 SW LTT Ben driving

Just what do you get for the £500 per month Peugeot’s finance system reckons our 508 SW would cost on a typical deal? To start with, a 221bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine. And it’s in GT trim, which is as high up the ladder as you can go, short of the fancy First Edition model.

Over and above the rest of the range, the key extras are active suspension (née adaptive dampers), safety systems including adaptive cruise control, lane positioning and blind-spot detection, an electric boot that opens if you wave your foot beneath the rear bumper, electric seats with massage function, an audio system from respected French brand Focal, and a choice of fragrances.

It’s a lot of kit (leaving little other than towbar, bigger wheels, night vision and a panoramic roof on the options list), but we figure it’s better to try these things and be sure they’re unnecessary, rather than spend months wondering. After all, how else will you know whether the Relax or Boost scent is best?

By Ben Pulman

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), 31.1mpg (tested), 124g/km CO2
Energy cost 18.6p per mile
Miles this month 555
Total miles 1149

Month 1 living with a Peugeot 508 SW: configure to a happy place

Peugeot 508 SW hello

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.

The best estate cars you can buy

We're living with a Peugeot 508 SW GT 1.6 225

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. 

By Ben Pulman

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

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