Competition in the large family car sector is as fierce as ever, but Peugeot have a strong contender in the shape of the 508, which saw a return to form for the French firm, following the disappointing 407 model.

Visually this SW (estate) variant is even more striking than the saloon, with long sweeping roofline and tapering glass area, leading to a well-judged rear that avoids the bulbousness of some rivals. Recent range revisions include the elimination of the 508 ‘SR’ with enhancements to both the specification of 508 Access, Active, Allure (including HYbrid4 Saloon) and ‘GT’ models.

508’s cabin has a classy and well made ambience. The design, layout and fit and finish of the trim and switchgear all feel very well executed. The menu-driven infotainment system is generally easy to use, with a decent-sized screen situated high up on the dash, although it isn’t as intuitive in operation as the touch-screen based system found in the 208 supermini.

This Allure trim model comes with a plethora of equipment, including LED daytime running lights, front and rear parking sensors, Brake Hill Assist, CD audio with USB/Bluetooth, climate control, panoramic glass roof, Half Leather Trim, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, keyless entry, Colour Head-up Display and 18” alloy wheels.

An increase in overall length from the old 407, to 4.8 metres translates to generous interior accommodation. A lack of transmission tunnel in the rear means legroom for the centre-seat passenger is unimpeded and the bench also reclines for extra comfort. Luggage space isn’t quite up to Mondeo levels at 512 litres seats up/1598 litres seats down and seat backs don’t fold completely flat – although they are easy to lower, thanks to remote operation.

The 508 SW shrugs off its bulk with a surefooted direct and engaging steer. The ride is pliant enough to be comfortable, yet there’s minimal roll and plentiful grip. Although far from limousine quiet, both road roar and wind noise are sufficiently well suppressed.

The 2.0 litre 163 PS diesel motor provides strong performance (0-62 mph in 9.9 seconds and 137 mph top speed), while combining a low 130 g/km CO2 rating and claimed 56.4 mpg combined fuel consumption. Refinement levels are respectable, although under hard acceleration it does become more vocal, with some resonance transmitting into the cabin - but rather than a gruff diesel rumble, there’s a pleasingly sporty tone.

508 is easily the best driving large Peugeot since the highly regarded 405. This SW estate version loses very little in dynamic precision to the saloon, so as to be virtually unnoticeable. Pretty much everything else gets the thumbs up too: it has stylish looks, a comfortable and practical cabin and decent levels of kit. Gripes are confined to weak automatic transmissions and slightly restricted visibility. Otherwise 508 SW is a highly accomplished and polished all-rounder.

Tech Spec:
Peugeot 508 SW Allure HDi 163
OTR Price: £26,005
Max power: 163 bhp @ 3750
Max torque: 340Nm @ 2000 rpm
Max speed: 137 mph 0-62 mph in 9.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 56.4 (claimed) CO2 emissions : (g/km) 130
VED band: D (First year £0, Standard rate £100