Ah, the D-segment. Once, when it was normal for a car maker’s range to consist of five models and having five channels on your television seemed quite the extravagance, the D-segment – large family cars such as the Peugeot 508 – was the dominant force in UK car ownership.
Model ranges and their respective levels of sophistication were glaringly obvious in this company car-focused market. The badge on the back might even have included an ‘i’, standing “for ‘important’”, as a driver on a TV documentary said at the time. There were big players – Ford and Vauxhall, predominantly – and a British Touring Car Championship focused entirely around big family saloons (and one Volvo estate). And, absolutely, Peugeot was part of it.
These cars are still around but when manufacturers including Renault, Nissan and Toyota have decided that the segment is not really for them, you can see where we are: in a space into which Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have muscled and where mainstream makers are trying to push upwards in terms of price, style and quality to remain relevant and profitable.
Which brings us to the latest Peugeot 508, styled in a department headed by 2019 Autocar design award winner Gilles Vidal. It is a rakish, attractive car that has to do two things: be a competitive everyday estate car and yet take on vehicles with seemingly more alluring badges. Can it do it?
The 508 line-up at a glance