Estates surprisingly aren’t the rage in this country that has its fair share of MPVs and SUVs piling council roads every day. Perhaps it has to do with the punitive automotive policy and general kiasu-ness of Malaysians in general who, when asked to part with more than 150-grand for a vehicle, would mostly opt for one size fits all Vellfires or Estimas, to name a few industry stalwarts. In the past, when SUVs and MPVs didn’t exist, there were plenty of station wagons on the road. Sadly, that ship has sailed, to be replaced by barges that fit everything but the kitchen sink that also happen to exude a certain grace and snobbery that you can’t get from low-riding sedans. Perhaps it also has to do with the monicker “station wagon” that doesn’t exactly sound cool or exciting today, as even uncles and aunties dye their hair to look cool in selfies these days. And nobody I know wants to be called an Uncle or Auntie regardless of the number of wrinkles on their faces.
Which brings us to this unique proposition by Nasim (Peugeot Malaysia), the recently restyled Peugeot 508SW THP. For the uninitiated, THP stands for Turbo High Pressure and I’m guessing SW stands for Station Wagon. Yep, it’s a good ol’ wagon I tell ya. And quite a looker, though I’m a little on the fence regarding the rear styling, but more on that later. Initially released at the start of 2012, the 508SW THP sits in the middle of the 508 lineup, sandwiched between the 508 THP sedan below it and the sprightly 508 GT oil-burning sedan topping off the range. In pre-facelift guise there were a total of 5 variants with 2 range-topping 2.2 HDi FAP turbodiesel GT models, but 2015 saw a consolidation of just 3 models to take the fight to the other D segments in the market, which is quite standard across other marques that have no more than 3 variants in that particular segment. So now there are 2 THP models (sedan and wagon) and a single turbodiesel GT sedan.
The new THP models have undergone a slight performance makeover, receiving a slight bump in overall horsepower by way of an updated engine putting out 165PS and 240Nm as opposed to 156PS and 240Nm in the pre-facelift models. The turbodiesel lump in the GT remains unchanged, putting out a healthy 206PS and dollops of pulling power thanks to 450Nm of twist available from 2,000rpm. For outright performance and thrills, you will have to go with the GT. And with Euro 5 diesel available almost anywhere in the country, you won’t go far wrong with this potent combination.
Peugeot 508SW THP: Horses for Courses
I have got to be honest here. The 508SW is kind of a mixed bag in the styling department, though I’m pretty sure they spent many hours coming up with the end result which isn’t all too shabby, but not good looking enough to sway a hardcore sedan and hatch lover like me. But would I take this over an Estima and its ilk? In a heartbeat. Combining both typical European design flair and practicality, the 508SW does come out looking quite alright, but not nearly as handsome as its more affordable sibling the 508 THP sedan.
The front styling is gorgeous by any standards and really raises the profile of the car from pedestrian to breathtaking, whereas in the past the old car’s frontal design didn’t go down too well with me. Gone are the slightly beady eyes of the headlamps, and gone is that bulbous nose that makes the car look more shark-like than cat-like. The angular and muscular headlamps (replete with Full LED Technology illumination) are now more prominently featured, in tandem with a sharpening up of that lovely bonnet line that is taut and business like. The front grille has also undergone a tremendous makeover that gels very well with the rest of the frontal design elements, giving the 508 lineup a much needed aesthetic revamp in line with its aspirations as an upmarket executive D segmenter.
It is along the side profile that the sedan and wagon part ways, with the wagon getting a more feminine character along its hind quarter profile to stress upon its more utilitarian duties as a cargo carrier. It is here also that the wagon begins to lose some of that manliness from up front, subdued by the rounded off tailgate. Granted, the 508SW is one of the more beautiful renditions of the classic estate body shape, but there’s only so much you can do without sacrificing the key tenets of what makes an estate, an estate, such as a low boot line for easy access and a slightly bulbous rear door to maximize interior cargo space.
Having said that, the feline character of the wagon is hard to ignore with its facelifted rear light cluster that is unmistakably Peugeot and isn’t too far detached from its more streamlined sedan sibling. A welcome addition to the visual appeal of the 508SW though, is the large panoramic roof which promises loads of fun and adventure for the rear occupants to keep them busy. I would recommend a good window tint though as it could get rather toasty in our weather. Overall, the front and rear styling are somewhat incoherent if I may say so, but when appreciated independently of each other, you either love it or hate it. It’s hard to find a middle ground no matter which way you slice it.
Peugeot 508SW THP: Familiar Territory Within
As with the updated sedan models, the 508SW received a minor update within as well. What used to be a multi-function controller console between the front seats is now a storage bin to somewhat address one of the peeves we had with the original car, which is the lack of compartments to store our stuff. Although not too large, it is adequate to contain often needed items such as house keys and other minor trinkets. Behind it is another albeit larger storage bin to store larger items like Smart TAGs etc.
The screen has also been updated in terms of resolution which is now HD unlike in the past, making for better viewing and sharper renditions overall. Just beneath the touch screen panel sits a control panel that allows quick access between Navigation, Telephony and other oft used parameters. And underneath that panel sits the tactile buttons for climate control. All in all, a lot of useful features are right there at your fingertips, much unlike (in a positive way) the “i Cockpit” featured in the new 308 THP that hides everything away within the touch screen. And yes, the car is equipped with a JBL 10-speaker surround sound system with built-in subwoofer for those days when you feel like blasting down the highway with EDM to pump your heart in excess of 120bpm.
The plush leather appointed seats have been carried over from the previous model and continue to offer good support and comfort for long journeys, aside from looking plush, luxurious and able to withstand many years of use and abuse, especially important in a people (read: screaming kids) and cargo carrier such as this one. Being a D segment offering, Peugeot was able to stretch out the seats to accommodate 4 full sized adults in great comfort while offering enough shoulder room to take 5 adults with just a bit of shoulder rubbing. The seat squabs are full sized so your legs and back won’t fatigue as much as compared to being cramped in a B or C segment model.
Peugeot 508SW THP: Looks Can Deceive
In spite of its estate underpinnings, the Peugeot 508SW THP is anything but boring in the performance and handling departments. The robust Prince engine pulls strongly in each gear, and thanks to the slightly uprated horsepower the bulkier wagon did not feel fatigued and seldom ran out of breath even with 4 occupants on board. The Aisin derived 6AT goes about its job seamlessly, save for some slight clunkiness at low speeds which is prevalent in other Pug models that we’ve tested. Having said that, the slight imperfection in gearchange is heard rather than felt, since the chassis and suspension bits in the 508 are typical of a large French vehicle; solid and stable.
Sharing the same MacPherson struts up front and multilinks in the rear with the 508 THP, there’s not much else to write home about with regards to its handling prowess. It’s safe to say though that the car is well setup to absorb most road imperfections with panache, which is par for the course in this segment. The GT on the other hand, gets double wishbones up front and larger front brake discs due to the higher output. We didn’t get to try the older 508SW GT with the more robust suspension so it’s hard to compare just which one handles better, but I’m willing to take a bet that the target audience for this model will be more than happy with the current setup.
There is moderate body roll when cornering hard, but the car never steps out of line. After all, this car was sprung for a balance of comfort and performance which I can’t complain about. The grippy Michelin Primacy HP tires specced at 235/45 R18 see to it that you and your family arrive safely at your destination without any theatrics. Tire rumble is negligible for a wide tire like this.
Being a large station wagon, the 163THP engine in the 508SW has to work a lot harder than say in a smaller and lighter 408, but 240Nm from 1,450-4,250rpm ensures that the car rarely runs out of breath; just don’t expect it to burn rubber at traffic stops. It is a punchy engine with a raunchy exhaust note when punted hard, but it does take a while for the speedo to climb from naught to a hundred. Official figures quoted a century dash of around 9.2s but in reality it does feel a little slower than that. Perhaps a tank of RON97 on a cool morning with nothing in the trunk is what’s needed to match official stats.
At around the RM185,000 mark before rebates, the Peugeot 508SW THP isn’t for the faint hearted. There are plenty of parallel imports floating in the market to take your money, with numerous body styles to choose from. If you’re a penny pinching type of person, then a Peugeot is not for you. It is a known fact that residual values and Conti makes don’t go along very well. However, if you’re a type of person who loves swimming against the tide and dare to be different, then you will be rewarded with a car that gets the job done in style and a level of comfort and convenience only a Peugeot can offer. The Peugeot 508SW THP is a car that you can drive to impress clients on weekdays while having enough room in the trunk for a quick weekend getaway with the family and family pet.
Images and Text: Greg Yang