AT-A-GLANCE Peugeot 508 SW Allure 2.0 HDi 163 6-speed automatic.

Price: £26,225.

Top speed: 138mph.

0-62mph: 9.5 seconds.

Fuel: 49.5mpg (combined figure).

C02 emissions (g/km): 150.

Verdict: Excels for space, style and practicality, comfortable, refined, excellent road manners and build quality.

PEUGEOT’S latest models are way ahead of the old in terms of build quality and refinement.

The improvement continues with the classy new 508 estate which is good enough to capture sales from the successful German premium marques and should help boost Peugeot’s fleet sales.

The estate market is growing with many motorists not only looking for good value but for more room for less money than the cost of a spacious SUV or an MPV.

Not that the more upmarket estates are cheap. The 508 costs from £19,475 (on the road) for the 1.6-litre VTi in Access trim to £30,275 for the 2.2 HDi automatic in GT specification which starts to look expensive.

However, when you consider the Peugeot’s improved build quality, extensive equipment, attention to detail, space and practicality, the prices do come into perspective. It is also as well to remember that nowadays estates are not just a stretched body style of the saloon but re-engineered extensively and in a number of cases are arguably better looking than their saloon counterparts.

This could be said of the fivedoor 508 which with its sleek lines, including the new corporate front detail, resembles a very eyecatching profile.

Despite its slender looks few estates can beat the 508 for space.

It not only has a large boot but with the rear seats folded the cargo space more than triples in size to a massive 1,598 litres. And with a flat sill, loading is easy.

As is usual with Peugeot there is a superb range of engines and specifications with the turbo diesel motors being the favourites. The 1.6-litre HDi diesel with 112bhp is hugely popular but so is the 2.0-litre unit with outputs of 140 and 163bhp.

The 163bhp version is a good allrounder for the family and the motor is a particularly smooth operator with first-class pulling power thanks to a torque figure of 340Nm at 2,000rpm. The engine is quiet and highly-efficient and illustrates the great strides made in the production of the modern diesel unit.

Peugeot has also been working on improving economy and this motor has a combined fuel return of 49.5mpg. CO2 emissions are 150g/km which puts the car into the £130-a-year road tax bracket.

The interior is also impressive.

The spacious and well-insulated cabin is stylish with a comprehensive and easy-to-read dash and steering wheel controls. The huge panoramic sunroof creates the illusion of a far more airy cabin for both front and rear passengers who can stretch out comfortably and enjoy a well-controlled ride.

High quality materials are used, with the upholstery in the Allure model being half leather.

Underway, the supple suspension manages to soak up all manner of road imperfections. The steering is nicely communicative with the car handling exceptionally well for an estate while body roll is kept well in check.

Enthusiastic drivers may, however, find the handling rather less sharp than the saloon counterpart.

Equipment is fairly generous on all the models. Being one of the more expensive choices, the Allure trim is extensive and includes keyless entry with stop/start button, cruise control, rear parking aid and automatic electric parking brake with hill assist. There are electric folding door mirrors, electrical adjustable and heated front seats, 18in alloy wheels and in-car entertainment and communications which include Peugeot Connect USB box with Bluetooth.

The list is as long as your arm.

The estate is also one of the safest cars on the road, boasting a leading five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.