Peugeot 508 review
The Peugeot 508 is great to look at, good to drive and comfortable
Still, the 508 is a good-looking alternative that is very nicely finished inside, highly efficient, and well equipped for the money. There is plenty of space inside all versions, while a huge boot and enough space in the rear for three adults means the 508 is pretty well suited to family life. It’s one of the most relaxed and comfortable cars in its class too, although it’s not as much fun to drive as the Ford.
The low running costs of the latest diesel engines should also make the 508 an interesting proposition for company car buyers, and the hybrid has the added benefit of four-wheel-drive.
The Peugeot 508 has never really been a huge seller in the UK. Nevertheless, the French manufacturer gave its Mondeo rival a rather eye-catching facelift in 2014 to help it compete against the likes of the Skoda Octavia and VW Passat.
The car was first launched in 2011 when it replaced both the 407 and Peugeot’s larger 607. The 508 shares its engineering and front-wheel-drive underpinnings with the Citroen C5 range. Both are built side-by-side at the PSA Group’s plant in Rennes, France, and are available in saloon or estate format.
Along with the more upmarket look, helped by the redesigned headlights, grille and bumpers, Peugeot also added two efficient but punchy diesel engines. Both are BlueTEC HDI motors and promise fuel economy that’s among the class leaders. As before, the diesel-electric HYbrid4 model continues to be offered, emitting only 85g/km of CO2.
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With a few notable exceptions, Peugeot has traditionally targeted customers who prefer a safer and comfortable drive rather than the thrill-seekers. That means the 508 is engineered for a ride that is supple and rarely unsettled by bumps in the road. Top spec GT models get a more sophisticated suspension setup, which improves the ride even further
Peugeot also offers the 508 SW badged estate car version, and the 508 RXH which is a jacked-up version of the SW load-carrier that’s designed to attract drivers interested in the crossover market.
There are four trim levels available, starting with the Active which comes with Emergency Brake Assist, ESP, cruise and climate control and a touchscreen satnav with Bluetooth and DAB radio. The Allure adds electric seat adjustment, parking sensors and reversing camera, blind spot monitoring, keyless entry and a panoramic sunroof on SW models. GT Line adds half leather upholstery, LED headlamps and sportier 18 inch alloys, while the top spec GT has a head-up display, full leather and even racier 19 inch wheels.
Engines, performance and drive
If you want a sporty family car, you’ll be better off with a Ford Mondeo. That said, the Peugeot 508 still offers a good drive, comfortable ride and good sound insulation.
The steering is quite direct and has a surprising amount of feel, which helps to make the 508 feel reasonably nimble in spite of its size. The suspension is supple, but doesn't allow too much body roll in spite of its comfort-biased set-up. Only if you really want to drive spiritedly through corners will you miss the extra engagement of a sportier handling car like the Mondeo.
The 508 is also nicely refined, with little road noise or engine noise evident while cruising.
You can no longer get the 508 with a petrol engine, but the HYbrid4 model is still available which combines an electric motor with a diesel engine to offer four-wheel-drive and a total of 198bhp. It does 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds making it the fastest 508 model on offer, as well as the most efficient.
Otherwise, the choices are all efficient BlueHDi engines, which use special exhaust cleaning technology to reduce emissions and almost eliminate particulates. Peugeot reckons the system makes their diesel engines as clean as is currently possible, and all meet latest Euro 6 regulations.
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The best all-round option is probably the 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel, which offers a surprising mix of performance and economy. It gets a six-speed automatic gearbox as standard, and does 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds.
Many drivers will be well satisfied by the entry level 1.6 litre with 119bhp. It offers 0-62mph in 11 seconds dead, but has sufficient grunt for overtaking.
The middle-of-the-road option is a 148bhp 2.0 variant that will do 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds. It’s pretty good, but it lacks the extra punch of the 2.0-litre on the road.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
Most Peugeot 508 models will be bought by business drivers, and if allowances permit they will most likely pick the road tax-exempt HYbrid4 - which emits just 95g/km and returns 70.6mpg – or the 148bhp 2.0-litre BlueTEC HDi which emits just 109g/km of CO2. Economy is also good with over 67mpg claimed.
The 119bhp 1.6-litre engine produces 103g/km of CO2 but can also muster 70.6mpg on the official combined fuel consumption test, which matches exactly the fuel consumption quoted for the hybrid model – although you don’t get anything like the same performance.
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Every 508 comes with air-con, electric windows, sat-nav, cruise control and alloy wheels, and all models should look competitively priced in the showroom. Allure-trimmed cars have electric leather seats and rear parking sensors, while top spec GT models boast a head-up display, xenon headlights and sports suspension for sharper handling – so there’s not much you’ll be wanting to spend money on from the options list. Running costs for all models should be reasonable for the class too, although residual values are likely to be relatively poor.
Insurance groupings run from 25 to 37 for the 508 range, with the highest group rating reserved for hybrid models.
In spite of its decent family car credentials and high quality interior fit and finish, the lack of a premium badge means the 508 suffers at resale time. The worst performer is likely to be the smallest-engined car in GT Line spec, according to used valuation experts CAP. They reckon it will be hold on to just 31 per cent of its new cost after three years and 30,000 miles.
Even the hybrid models will barely perform any better under CAP’s analysis, and the best performance you can hope for will come from the mid-range 148bhp engined 508 SW estate in lowest Active trim – predicted to hold on to 34 per cent of its new cost.
Interior, design and technology
The Peugeot 508 is a good-looking car and does well to stand out from the crowd. It has a sweeping shape with a distinctive nose that incorporates its new grille and headlight combination. Peugeot appears to have tried to give the 508 the look of a four-door coupe like the Mercedes CLS, rather than a conventional saloon – and to our mind it works.
The estate SW and RXH models are quite attractive in their own right too, with the SW appealing to traditionalists and the RXH looking a bit more fashionable.
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The 508’s cabin is made of high quality materials, too, contrary to the perceptions many have about typical French build quality. Yet inside, the 508 feels much more upmarket than the Ford Mondeo, instead rivalling cars like the Volkswagen Passat and Vauxhall Insignia which some people may find surprising. However, the dash, centre console and steering wheel are very cluttered, which spoils the effect a little. There are far too many buttons, which can make it difficult to navigate your way around the cabin, and the steering wheel is very busy too.
The head-up display screen – a bit of glass sticking out of the tip of the dash – doesn’t look very well integrated either. We much prefer systems that project their output onto the windscreen itself.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
All models in the 508 line-up benefit from a high-level infotainment system, featuring a 7-inch touchscreen sat-nav that includes 5 years of free map updates. DAB radio and a CD player are also standard, as is Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, and Peugeot Connect SOS and Assistance. The colour head-up display is not available on the Active entry model, but is optional on Allure and GT Line and standard on the GT and RXH models.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Much bigger than its predecessor, the Peugeot 508 stands at over 4.8m long – about the same as a Ford Mondeo. That means there's a decent amount of space, with bags of room in the front, and the seats are comfortable for extended periods too. Visibility is good thanks to slim windscreen pillars, and a useful rear view camera is standard on all but the entry model.
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There is a shortage of cubbyholes for mobile phones and drinks though, and the 473-litre boot is slightly down on the Mondeo. The HYbrid4 has a smaller luggage area because the batteries are hidden in the boot, but the trade-off is that it’s sure-footed in the wet thanks to four-wheel-drive.
The 508 measures-up at 4,830mm long, 1,853mm wide and 1,456mm tall. This puts it right in the middle of a group that includes the 4,767mm Volkswagen Passat, the 4,842mm Vauxhall Insignia and the 4,871mm Ford Mondeo.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Roomy up front, the 508 is equally impressive in the back, where only the tallest passengers will struggle for head and leg space. There’s even room for a middle seat passenger to get reasonably comfortable. ISOFIX child seat mounting points are standard too.
While the 508’s 473-litre boot looks reasonable, it’s a bit miserly compared to the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia, which offer 540 litres and 530 litres respectively. Picking the hybrid model costs you dearly on the luggage front too, as overall luggage volume drops to just 339 litres to make room for the batteries.
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The 508 does benefit from a large boot opening and low sill height which makes loading easy, and you of course if you want more space you can always pick the 508 SW estate model.
Reliability and Safety
Peugeot has made huge leaps in terms of reliability and safety over the years, and the Peugeot 508 has earned itself a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating. All models come fitted with front, side and curtain airbags as standard, along with traction and stability control. As for reliability, due to the 508’s relative novelty we haven't heard of any problems yet. However, Peugeot models don’t tend to perform particularly well in the Auto Express Driver Power Survey.