EVERY year I make a pilgrimage to Prestbury Park – a field of dreams situated in the heart of the Cotswolds.
There I watch and admire the skill and bravery of horses and jockeys taking part at the Cheltenham Festival.
I’ve witnessed and enjoyed many top-class performances – but the car I drive there rarely impinges on my consciousness.
This year was different. I took my dad to Cheltenham for his 70th birthday and promised to chauffeur him around. He knows what he likes in a car so its performance over the week was bound to come under the same scrutiny as the various entrants for the Champion Hurdle.
Fortunately the Peugeot 508 SW I was driving came up to scratch and a Lion became as much a star of the show as the horses in the equine olympics.
The king of the jungle sits proudly on the bonnet of the Peugeot 508 SW and this estate is as good looking and powerful as the big cat on the company’s badge.
It carried me across the country proving as adept on motorways as it was exciting on the many country lanes that link the quaint villages and hamlets that make the Cotswolds the tourist magnet it is today.
The 508 model is as important to Peugeot’s future as a Gold Cup winner is to its owner. The replacement for the 407 has a lot riding on it and features an excellent saloon model – but I think the SW, or Sport Wagon, version is better.
That’s because you lose nothing in the looks department – it’s gorgeous – and you still gain from the extra versatility and practicality of a bigger car.
A starting price of £19,175 means it should be one of the favourites – in an extremely competitive sector – to atttract buyers to its doors.
They will immediately notice the sexy sweep of the 508 SW’s lines with a front end featuring a stylish ‘floating’ grille while the car’s rear offers light clusters designed to give the impression of a big cat’s claws.
Step inside and there’s an elegance to the cabin normally found in much more expensive cars. Quality materials are used and the finish is meticulous giving the impression of refinement while the levels of equipment included are excellent.
There are five diferent levels of trim which beginwith Access before moving up through SR, Active, Allure and GT.
The Allure model I drove doesn’t come cheap at £25,000-plus but does offer value for money as a who’s who of equipment is thrown in including a radio/CD player plus Peugeot Connect USB Box with Bluetooth, four-zone air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, electrically adjustable and heated front seats plus 18-inch alloy wheels.
The feature which most impressed though was the enormous panoramic glass roof which lets a tremendous amount of light into the cabin giving it an airy atmosphere.
Exterior noise is treated as an unwelcome visitor with the 508 designed to repel all borders making it a relaxing place to spend a long journey.
There’s loads of room for five adults and while the sleek design of the estate means the boot isn’t as big as some, you still get 660-litres of space - more than enough for the average family’s needs.
The rear seats can be folded in one easy movement creating a cavern of 1,865 litres when required.
The 508 SW is powered by a beauty of a 2.0-litre diesel engine linked to a slick 6-speed manual gearbox. Fuel is sipped rather than slurped ensuring visits to fill up are kept to a minimum and there’s plenty of pulling power for those wishing to tow a caravan.
It all adds up to an impressive package that is stylish, comfortable and won’t break the bank to run.
Peugeot 508 SW Allure HDi 163
Mechanical: 163bhp, 1997cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 137mph
Combined mpg: 56.4
Insurance group: 28
CO2 emissions: 130g/km
BiK rating: 19%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles