HAVING spent the week walking 115 miles to Cardiff to protest against plans to put pylons in the countryside, I didn’t get the chance to spend as much time behind the wheel of the Peugeot 508 as I would have liked.

I say that because the short time I did spend driving the new 508 - which replaces both the 607 and the 407 - left me mighty impressed.

Actually, I have been impressed with every Peugeot I have driven recently- the RCZ of course still being my favourite.

The 508 I had on test this week was the top-end GT version.

It comes with a new 204bhp engine, does 0-62mph in an impressive 8.4 seconds and despite weighing 1,780kg it still manages 47.8mpg on the combined cycle, with CO2 emissions of 154g/km.

But the element that impressed me more than anything about the 508 SW GT is its six-speed automatic gearbox. The box inside the GT has been re-engineered from top to bottom to significantly reduce CO2 emissions while still favouring dynamism and driveability due to the rapidity of gear changes.

The result? Ultra smooth and responsive gear changes that make overtaking effortless.

What more could a driver ask for in a cruiser this size?

The 508 also comes up trumps if it’s practicality you are after, because with 660 litres of boot space and the ability to put the rear seats flat in the click of a button (creating a load area of 1,865 litres) you get 224 litres more than the VW Passat Estate and 132 litres over the Ford Mondeo Estate.

There is more than enough space for passengers too, with the three six-foot-plus adults I had in the back on a 20 mile trip all remarking on the comfort of the seats, the smoothness of the ride and the airy cabin.

The huge panoramic sunroof, which comes as standard on this model, also helps create an illusion of even more space for people sitting in both the front and rear seats.

And the glass roof isn’t the only clever touch.

The 508 GT features a seven inch 3D Sat Nav, a JBL hi-fi system with 10 speakers for discerning music lovers, a parallel parking guide that measures available space and lets the driver know the possibility of parking in a free space and numerous storage spaces, including a neat hidden compartment underneath the boot floor.

On the road the good looking Peugeot is more than capable.

It feels agile and the steering is direct and responsive. It really is a pleasure to drive.

But, be warned, quality comes at a price - the top-spec GT models cost £29,975.