BY BRIAN BYRNE
IF there’s any car that could wean a buyer away from the current SUV trend, it’s arguably the Peugeot 508 SW estate.
Sleek. Svelte. Swish. Stylish. Sexy. Take any or all of them and they’ll still not be a truly adequate way of describing the car, the sedan of which is the Continental Tyres Irish Large Car of the Year 2020.
Peugeots are cars for the everyday, for everyone. They may well now be of similar premium quality to any of the prestige brands, but they’re for me, for you, for our children, for your parents. In whatever model or size of car is appropriate to the relevant driving needs.
For much of my driving life, estate was appropriate. Mostly in my early businesses career. Later, when I could have done with one for the growing family, there seemed to be a dearth of affordable secondhand wagons out there, so it was mostly passenger cars.
But in the three decades that I’ve been a motoring writer, the times that I’ve had a wagon out for review have always been enjoyable (except for one unlamented Lada, but that’s a long, long time ago). Not that I had the opportunity to always use them to their full capability, but bringing back memories.
Back to the 508 SW. In style terms, it’s almost as if this was the primary format chosen by the designers, it is so coherent. Makes me want to throw a bag in the boot and head off for the nicest parts of this island. For at least a weekend. Didn’t happen this time, but you get my meaning.
The interior is a new classic, as found in the sedan version when it was launched a little less than a year ago. And so much a quantum or two ahead of a very nasty 405 dashboard I still remember from the early 90s. Just shows.
The i-Cockpit design that provides completely clear views of the essential information over the small steering wheel works very well in this big car.
And the piano-style keys under the wide centre screen are quite a joy to use with minimal distraction. The overall ‘drive station’ styling is futuristic without being starship, as it should be.
Comfort in the 508 SW was always going to be very good (once I managed to get my head through the steeply raked doorway — there is a price paid by tall people for part of this beauty). Seats look and feel good, are as supportive as they appear, and there’s ample adjustment. A massage version of the driver’s seat is available, but wasn’t needed.
Back seat passengers have as much comfort as the front. And behind them, there’s an automotive acre of luggage space. In the review car, there’s a useful rubber tray so nobody minds throwing in the muddy boots after a walk on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Goes without saying that there’s a right up-to-date suite of driver assist tech, including the availability of a Night Vision infra-red camera system that ‘sees’ pedestrians or animals outside the standard headlights field, and warns on the windscreen. Even in over-illuminated Ireland (look at us from space), there are roads in my country location where I’d be glad of that.
The car was an automatic, with eight silky-changing speeds. The engine was one of Peugeot’s still-splendid diesels that you wouldn’t notice. And the ride, as always has been the case with Peugeots, is the right mix of comfort and road-handling.
Could say much more. But the sheer look of the car got me in the first place anyhow. There’s a place for SUVs and ilk. Then there’s the really well-designed estate.
What I liked: Sleek. Svelte. Swish. Stylish. Sexy.
Pricing: From €34,110.