BUSINESS drivers clocking up the motorway miles in the thousands whilst lugging all their goods and wares were once fairly limited when it came to choosing a car.
Thankfully those days are long gone and while the old-school estate car resembled a chunky box on wheels, it was at least practical.
Then we got the multi-purpose SUVs that not only looked more stylish, but were perfect for active families.
But more recently the estate car has become a fashionable ‘go-to' option once again and the latest Peugeot 508 SW is a fine example of just why the sector is gaining momentum.
While the SUV market is still the fastest growing in the UK, the estate car has certainly cemented its future and the latest Peugeot model seems to have it all.
It's very easy on the eye with beautiful streamlining and styling features include an instantly-recognisable grille with chequered chrome detailing, twin chrome tail pipes, LED daytime running lights and 3D rear lights with the signature ‘Claw' effect, Nero black door mirrors, gloss black pillars, aluminium roof bars and smart alloy wheels.
And just like the 508 Fastback that was recently launched, the estate car boasts frameless doors that help accentuate its coupe styling.
Customers can choose from generously equipped trim levels called Active, Allure, GT Line and GT. There is also a First Edition launch model that is limited to just 75 models in the UK and prices for the 508 SW range from £26,845 to £40,944.
A number of efficient powertrains are available. There are four diesel units based on the BlueHDi 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre engines with power outputs ranging from 130hp to 180hp.
Two new petrol units based on the PureTech 1.6-litre engine deliver 180hp and 225hp.
All cars come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox although the entry-level diesel model is also on offer with a six-speed manual transmission.
The interior of the 508 is very premium in its design and layout with lots of soft-touch surfaces, piano black finishes, chrome trim plus leather upholstery.
Peugeot believes the GT Line models will be the most popular so we put a petrol and diesel-driven car in that trim through its paces and both had their own individual charm.
First up was the PureTech 180 turbocharged petrol model in GT Line delivering 180hp and 250NM of torque.
This car, priced at £33,245 (£33,970 with Pearlescent paint) could complete the 0-62mph dash in 8.0 seconds topping out at 140mph. It delivers combined fuel economy of 41.8-38.0mpg (WLTP) with carbon emissions of 127g/km.
Comfort levels within the car are very high and there's a wealth of onboard techno treats to explore via Peugeot's innovative i-Cockpit set-up. There is a configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, either a ten-inch or eight-inch touchscreen and a compact multi-function steering wheel with flat top and bottom as standard. MirrorLink with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also included as standard across the range.
Other technology included a 3D navigation system, a FOCAL premium sound system, full climate control, Bluetooth handsfree and media streaming system, heated seats and lots more besides.
Out on the open road, the 508 SW performs beautifully. It's not quite so aggressive as some rivals from the German manufacturers, but there is a constant stream of power on tap. The acceleration is rapid and the ride quality is cushioned even over rougher surfaces.
There are different drive modes to choose from called Eco, Comfort, Normal and Sport. These alter the car's responses, but even in Eco mode the reactions are still instant. Steering wheel mounted paddles mean you can control the gear changes manually.
The latest model is 5.6cms lower than its predecessor so looks more dynamically styled, and it has also shed 70kgs in weight which is beneficial to both the handling and running costs.
Despite its larger-than-life dimensions measuring 4.77 metres in length, the 508 SW is easy to manoeuvre and proved quite agile with a turning circle of just 10.8 metres.
The driver has plenty of seat adjustment so getting comfy is a simple process and while the visibility is great looking ahead or sideways the narrow back screen and wide door pillars rather limit the rear and over-the-shoulder vision.
All controls, buttons and readouts are perfectly positioned for driver usability and the infotainment system is ultra modern with quick keys to access certain functions such as the climate control.
There's bundles of room in the back of the car for two, or even three adults to travel in style and the boot can swallow between 530 and 1,780 litres of kit with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats folded flat, making the 508 SW a very practical option.
It can also tow a braked trailer weighing up to 1,600kgs, so is ideal for family breaks. A tow bar complete with Trailer Sway Mitigation adds £800 to the asking price.
Next up was the BlueHDi 130hp diesel model costing £31,495. This car had a raft of extra options and packs fitted that saw the price climb to £37,860. They including night vision detection, a drive assist pack, a smart electric tailgate, upgraded sound system and Nappa leather upholstery.
Once again the car was a pleasure to drive and the diesel engine, despite being a little raspy at times, was quite refined and had plenty of power. The road holding was assured and the all-round handling difficult to find fault with.
While the acceleration times and top speed were slightly lower than the petrol version, the mpg was more impressive at a combined 58.6-51.4mpg with CO2 of just 101g/km, making it a more attractive buy for business users.
All in all, the 508 SW is a beautifully styled, highly specced estate car that is competitively priced. Factor in a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and it seems to ticks all the right boxes.