Top spec 508, although expensive, shows promise for the rest of the range

What is it?

Peugeot's new large saloon and estate, the 508 straddles (and replaces) Peugeot's 407 and 607 models. Peugeot claiming the 508 offers interior space to match the 607, but within smaller exterior dimensions, and that although it is 10cm longer than the 407, that it weighs an average of 35Kg less.

In addition to the two bodystyles the 508 comes with two alternative suspension configurations. Most models use a MacPherson Strut at the front, with a multi-link arrangement at the rear. However our introduction to the 508 comes by way of the range topping GT model, which not only features a new 2.2-litre 201bhp diesel (more efficient and lighter than the 2.7-litre V6 it replaces) but also double-wishbone front suspension.

See pics of the Peugeot 508 in action

What's it like?

Before any considerations on the way the 508 drives, the most obvious change over its predecessor, is a newfound sense of maturity. The exterior styling has lost some of the quirkiness of the 407, and potentially is a little more bland as a consequence, but the interior is an unqualified step forward. Comfortable spacious and noticeably more upmarket. Clearly this GT model represents the 508 in its best light, with full leather trim and full colour information screens, but in the design, arrangement and action of the main switchgear the 508 is class-leading.

As is overall refinement. Helped by a standard fit acoustic windscreen and dampers on the front axle to reduce engine vibration, the 508's cabin is remarkably hushed, in terms of wind, road and engine noise. Other engines in the range, which include two 1.6-litre petrols, and several diesels including an e-HDi version with stop-start and emissions of 109g/km, may be more vocal, but this 2.2-litre is impressively quiet.

There is however no choice of gearbox with this engine, a six-speed automatic mandatory. Although this remains a conventional torque converter auto, it is not embarrassed by rivals' dual-clutch systems. While the shifts are not quite as instantaneous they're still quick enough, and for slow speed manoeuvres a torque converter is still superior.

In drive the gearbox relies on the engine's plentiful supply of torque (332lbft from 2000rm) to minimise interruptions, in Sport it is keener to slip down a gear or two, but still less frenetic than some alternatives. And in either mode the result is encouragingly rapid progress. Peugeot claim 0-62mph in 8.2sec, fast enough to elevate the 508 GT beyond the mainstream pack.

While the 508 GT works well as a comfortable quiet cruiser, it also rewards those who want press on. Although Peugeot's engineers considered fitting the 508 with a fully electric steering system, they judged the loss of feel not worth the efficiency gains. An increasingly unusual decision, but one, as enthusiasts, we should be thankful for.

Because although the 508 is a large car (longer than both Mondeo and Passat) it is an easy car to place, its steering quick but precise and intuitive. There's also decent grip from the standard 235/45R18 tyres (19” wheels are optional) and a better balance than most front drive rivals.

And although the GT is reasonably firmly sprung, and therefore quick to react to bumps (particularly at slow speeds), intrusions do not resonate far through the cabin.

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Should I buy one?

Good though the 508 GT is, at £28,750 (and £29,975 for the estate) it is treading in dangerous territory; you can have a BMW 3-Series or Mercedes C-Class for similar money (albeit without such a generous specification). The 508 makes more sense further down the model range where prices are broadly in line with mainstream rivals. However what we don't know just yet, is to what extent the lower grade suspension and interior will affect the overall appeal. But if the talent trickle down is relatively undiluted, Peugeot will have a credible competitor on its hands.

Jamie Corstorphine

Peugeot 508 GT

Price: £28,750; 0-62mph: 8.2sec; Max speed: 145mph; Economy: 49.6mpg; Co2: 150g/km; Kerbweight: 1736kg; Engine: 4cyls in line, 2179cc, turbodiesel; Installation: Front, transverse, front-wheel drive; Power: 201bhp at 3500rpm; Torque: 332lbft at 2000rpm; Power to weight: 116bhp/tonne; Specific output: 91bhp/litre; Compression ratio: 16.0:1; Gearbox: Six-speed automatic

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Chelavy 23 January 2011

Re: Peugeot 508 HDi GT

Anybody has experience with Peugeot's head up display (3008, 5008 and now 508)? I drove my friends 5 series and I was impressed (data is projected on the windscreen). I think that something like that should be standard on all cars in the future.

steven211 22 January 2011

Re: Peugeot 508 HDi GT

I think the majority of haters of countries or marques have never owned or experienced a car from the marque or county, when I hate a brand then its for a reason ~ I have owned or experienced a product from them, but I wont hate a brand that I have no experience with. Peugeot are good cars, like I said my dads 406 TD is on 252,000 mile sand has been so reliable, original alternator went about 230,000 miles, I have experienced Peugeot so I have the right to comment, not just listening to snobby journo's like the TopGear trio.

Overdrive 22 January 2011

Re: Peugeot 508 HDi GT

VicciV wrote:

......I don't mind haters at all but what I don't like is haters giving their comments in French articles. I dislike German cars but I have never posted anything negative in German articles neither have many French car fans either....

And how do you know this?

If you'd read threads about German cars on this very forum then you would know there are plenty of posters that (rightly or wrongly) put down German cars. Chances are, some of them are "French car fans", as you call them. Our own ThwartedEfforts, who has posted here, is one example;....... though to be fair to Thwarts, he does praise some German cars on the odd occasion too.

Personally, I don't care WHERE a car comes from, as long as it's a decent car. And although these nationality based "for and against" school kid spats can be amusing every now then, for the most part I find them tiresome.