THE once rather unfashionable estate car has made quite the comeback in recent years and offers a very attractive and viable alternative to the SUVs that are flooding the scene right now.
That's because estate cars, despite being lower than high-sided SUVs, have all the practicality bases covered, but have the X factor of delivering great driving dynamics along the way.
They also look more refined with streamlined styling and the perfect example of this is the latest Peugeot 508 SW.
It's a car that's guaranteed to turn heads with dynamic looks. Eye-catching features include the instantly-recognisable chequered front grille, twin exhaust pipes, frameless doors, full LED headlights with cornering function, stainless steel door sill scuff plates, 3D rear lights with the claw-effect LEDs, Nero black door mirror caps and 19-inch diamond cut Augusta alloy wheels that are excusive to the range-topping GT model.
Move inside and the 508 SW is pure class with all the creature comforts and on-board technology you could dream of. The Nappa leather quilted seats offer plenty of support and can be fully adjusted to find the ideal driving position behind the compact steering wheel.
The car features Peugeot's i-Cockpit dashboard design which centres around the steering wheel with its flat top and bottom. This makes it easier to see the information displayed on the digital readouts and all the controls are ideally positioned for ease of use.
The 10-inch touchscreen is simple to operate on the fly and there are quick keys for shortcuts to many systems. Features include MirrorLink with Apple CarPlay, a Focal premium sound system, Bluetooth, 3D navigation and plenty more besides.
It is case of hunt-the-USB-ports when you first get into the car though as they are tucked away from view beneath the central stack next to a wireless charging pad. These would easily be spotted by a front seat passenger or on left-hand drive cars as there is a label showing where to plug in your devices - shame that's not the case on our right-hand drive model.
Our high-end 508 SW in GT trim level was priced at £38,830 (£42,235 with options fitted) and was powered by a 2.0-litre, 177hp diesel engine matched to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It could complete the 0-62mph dash in a very respectable 8.4 seconds and maxed out at 144mph while delivering a combined 45.0-50.6mpg with carbon emissions of 124-125g/km.
Despite measuring almost 4.8 metres in length the latest model is 5.6cm lower than its predecessor and that makes for a more balanced all-round performance. The 508 SW proved deceptively agile and coped well when faced with busy city centre traffic where the light steering and 10.8 metre turning locks proved a real bonus.
Then, out on the faster country lanes, the road holding impressed and there was no sign of any body sway into tight bends. There are drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Manual that alter the manner in which the car responds and steering wheel-mounted paddles offer extra driver engagement too as the car fires its way along the quieter B roads.
But this is a car that really excels on long motorway journeys where it cruises effortlessly at the national speed limit. The comfort levels are excellent and barely a sound from the engine or road surface filters into the cabin. And, unlike most SUVs, the streamlined nature of the estate car means wind noise is non-existent.
The five-door 508 SW also has the practicality bases covered with a powered tailgate and a boot capacity ranging from 530 to 1,780 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. And there are plenty of handy compartments throughout the cabin to store bits and pieces, including an illuminated central cubby box, wide door pockets, a glovebox, front and rear cup holders, deep trays and a wireless charging pad.