Can Lion’s new family car maul the Mondeo? We get behind wheel to reveal all...
It looks as though Peugeot has cracked it with the 508. While there are more comfortable and exciting drivers’ cars in this class, the newcomer strikes a decent balance between the two and is a talented all-rounder. It would be interesting to try a more sensibly priced version, without the uprated suspension of our GT, to see whether the new model’s abilities run right the way through the range.
Two is better than one for the latest Peugeot! The 508 family car replaces the 407 and 607 in the range, and is set to take the fight to the Ford Mondeo.
Engineers have concentrated on replicating the nimble handling of the 407 and the space of the 607 in one package. And it looks as if they’ve been successful.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Peugeot 508
Thanks to better packaging, Peugeot bosses claim interior space is on a par with the larger model, while the 508 is 35kg lighter than the 407 – despite being 10cm longer – to retain the agility of the latter.
But how does the newcomer fare on the road? We took the wheel of a top-spec GT model, which comes fitted with a dual wishbone set-up on the front axle, rather than the MacPherson strut system on lesser models.
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On a challenging route full of hairpins, off-camber bends and rough tarmac, the 508 was never unsettled. It’s still comfortable, though. Even on the bumpiest of roads, the suspension does a good job of insulating the cabin. And while progress may not be as smooth as in a VW Passat, or as involving as in a Mondeo, the Peugeot arguably offers the best blend of the two.
What’s more, it’s one of the most interestingly designed cars in this class. Styling inspiration has been taken from the stunning SR1 concept, and the 508 wears Peugeot’s new family face, with a sculpted bonnet and gaping grille.
Inside, things are equally impressive. The layout is modern and stylish, and has an upmarket feel. All the buttons and switches are solid, and there are plenty of soft-touch materials throughout.
In addition, legroom in the back has increased by 5cm, to ensure there’s more than enough space for occupants standing six foot tall to stretch out in.
The 508 comes with a range of big-car features to match, including a colour head-up display, four-zone automatic air-con and heated massage seats for the driver and front passenger. An acoustic screen and targeted sound deadening guarantee excellent refinement, while the 2.2-litre diesel engine – available only in GT trim – was smooth and quiet. It’s mated as standard to a quick-shifting six-speed automatic gearbox, and is a strong performer, too, with 0-62mph in only 8.2 seconds.
Buyers are also given the option of naturally aspirated and turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol units, plus 1.6 and 2.0-litre HDi diesels. Most efficient is the 1.6 e-HDi; this claims 64.2mpg economy and CO2 emissions of 109g/km. There are efficiency improvements across the board, though, with our 2.2-litre diesel offering the same performance as the 407’s oil-burning V6, but putting out 73g/km less CO2, at 150g/km.
A diesel-electric HYbrid4 model will arrive by the end of the year, with 200bhp and a tax-free CO2 output of 99g/km. Prices start at £18,150 – that’s £725 less than the Passat – but rise to £28,750 for GT models. In this guise, the 508 is more expensive than top-spec versions of the Ford and VW, although it has an amazing spec – sat-nav and full leather trim are included, both of which are expensive extras on the competition.