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In-depth reviews

Peugeot 508 review - Engines, performance and drive

The Peugeot 508 is an entertaining drive, yet it’s also comfortable and refined

As befits its sporting looks, the 508 offers a surprisingly involving drive. Perhaps not to the extent that it’s going to trouble a BMW 3 Series, but it’s certainly at the more dynamic end of the spectrum when it comes to the way it drives. 

The 508 is based on the same platform as that of the 3008 SUV, and given that car’s impressive ride you might expect the same to be true of the 508. For the most part, it obliges, but it’s not quite so adept at soaking up lumps and bumps as the SUV. Peugeot has set up the 508’s suspension to be somewhat firmer than the family-orientated SUV, and as a result, some imperfections are transmitted through to the cabin, especially on models fitted with the largest 19-inch alloy wheels. However, it’s by no means uncomfortable and while there’s some low-speed fidget, at motorway speeds the firmer ride comes into its own, soaking up undulations in a well-controlled manner. 

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The flipside of the coin is that the firmer set up on the 508 gives far less body roll when cornering. It feels dialled-in to the tarmac, with impressive grip levels. Initially the small steering wheel feels a little odd, but it makes the steering very responsive and gives the 508 an agile nature when compared to the majority of its rivals. The steering is well weighted too and allows you to place the car with precision when driving on flowing back roads.

All the engines feel up to the job, although naturally enough the entry-level 1.5-litre diesel doesn’t feel quite as lively as the rest of the range. The 1.5-litre diesel is also the only engine that can be had with a manual gearbox: all the other models come with Peugeot’s EAT 8 automatic, which can also be added to the 1.5-litre engine as an option.

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The automatic does work well, shifting between the ratios pretty seamlessly and when changing gears manually with the steering wheel-mounted paddles. The paddles themselves are slightly small, though – you can lose them when cornering enthusiastically – and the gearbox itself can be a little jerky when coming to a stop. 

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

When it comes to the engine line-up for the Peugeot 508, the company has most bases covered from fugal and efficient diesels to higher-powered petrol models. However, it’s worth noting that not all engine variants can be ordered in all trim levels, with the most powerful petrol and diesel engines reserved for the top of the range GT models.

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At entry-level, Active spec is only available with the 129bhp 1.5 BlueHDi 130 diesel. This is also the only engine in the 508 line-up that can be had with a manual gearbox. With the manual transmission, it can accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds, the eight-speed auto takes a further 0.3 seconds to cover the same increment. Top speed for both versions is 129mph.

Two further diesels are offered, both 2.0-litre units badged as BlueHDi 160 (with 161bhp) and the BlueHDi 180 (175bhp), and both engines have an identical torque output of 400Nm. They will accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.4 and 8.3 seconds respectively and both have top speeds in excess of 140mph. The BlueHDi 160 is likely to be the bigger seller and it offers plenty of punch, even when fully laden when the 1.5-litre unit can feel a little strained.

Two 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engines are also available, the PureTech 180 and PureTech 225, and if you’re after the ultimate in performance to go with the sporty style of your 508, these would be the models to go for. The 179bhp PureTech 180 has 250Nm of torque and will accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds on its way to a 143mph top speed. The PureTech 225 has an additional 50Nm of torque, a 7.3-second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 155mph. However, while the 225 is a strong performer, it’s only available in the limited run First Edition or the GT model which starts from around £36,000, so it’s likely to be a rare sight on the road.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.5 BlueHDi Active 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £26,370

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 Hybrid Allure 5dr e-EAT8
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £34,175

Fastest

  • Name
    1.6 PureTech 225 GT 5dr EAT8
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £37,325
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