From £17,5997
Roomy, economical, decent to drive. Not bad - but volume saloons must be better than that to stand a chance in 2014

Our Verdict

Peugeot 508

The Peugeot 508 is is better all round than its predecessor, and should be a fleet favourite

Matt Saunders Autocar
10 September 2014

What is it?

The facelifted Peugeot 508: a traditional volume-brand family car of the kind we’ll do almost anything these days not to buy.

While this car’s market segment shrinks slowly towards obscurity, the niches in which its new alternatives reside – from ‘compact premium’ hatches and saloons, through crossovers and compact SUVs, to executive options like the new Jaguar XE, even down to extra-practical C-segment estates – have become the fastest-growing and most important in Europe. 

Totally surrounded and outmanoeuvred, the “Mondeo market” probably won’t exist in another decade. For the time being, though, this once-great backwater of the industry must still be worth investing in – which is good news while it continues to be populated with cars of real substance.

This year brings an all-new Ford Mondeo and an all-new VW Passat. The Vauxhall Insignia was refreshed less than a year ago – and now, three years after its introduction, we’re getting an updated Peugeot 508.

What's it like?

Exterior styling changes consist chiefly of new bumpers, new headlights (full LED clusters are now standard on upper model grades), a squarer bonnet and a stronger, classier-looking chrome grille. 

On the inside, PSA’s familiar 7-inch touchscreen multimedia system has been fitted, freeing up space on the centre console for more oddment storage. New gadgets on higher-end models include a heads-up display, blind spot monitors and a reversing camera: hardly ground-breaking stuff.

Peugeot would have better spent that gadget budget on better-quality cabin plastics at low levels and around the steering column, and on more tactile primary points of contact than the cheap-feeling gearshift paddles you get in automatic models. Still, the 508’s cabin is roomy, comfortable and – for the most part – quite well appointed and finished.

The headline additions under the bonnet consist of two new 2.0-litre ‘BlueHDi’ turbodiesel engines, the most important of which gives the 508 a competitive 148bhp and 273lb ft of torque and, in the case of the saloon, makes for sub-110g/km CO2 emissions.

We tried the new engine in a 508 SW; the estate bodystyle accounting for more 508 sales across the continent than the four-door. The engine was refined at cruising revs, if a bit booming and breathless at higher crank speeds, and it offered a decent balance of economy (low-40s-mpg on a fairly steep mountain route) and performance.

But soft throttle response, basic intractability and long gearing affected drivability at times – and the flaccid shift quality of the six-speed manual gearbox didn’t impress.

Certain versions of the 508 do a better impression of a premium product on the ride and handling front – but unfortunately, not the versions that matter.

Buy a £30k, 197bhp, 2.2-litre HDi ‘GT’-badged car and you’ll get an upgraded chassis, with double-wishbone suspension up front, that's tuned to deliver pleasingly fluent and precise steering, a closely controlled supple ride and decent, if slightly nose-lead, cornering balance. There again, that means the best 508 is BMW 320d money.

At the cheaper end of the model spectrum, cars get a MacPherson strut-type front suspension – and though they have a softer-sprung chassis, they don’t ride, handle or steer as well.

Our SW test car had stodgy initial steering response and a slightly under-damped ride that also failed to isolate the cabin from coarse surfaces and bigger lumps and bumps as well as it should have.

Should I buy one?

Traditional family saloons probably represent the best compromise of space, performance, efficiency and value for a great many customers.

And the 508 in particular remains a likeable car if for no other reason than because it’s a big, laid-back French saloon that’s comfortable in its own skin. 

But the same commitment (and budget) that saw the 308 win European Car of the Year has clearly not been lavished on its bigger brother.

In order to stand up against the encroaching band of fashionable alternatives, cars like this absolutely depend on distinguishing quality or value, or some other strong selling point.

The 508 is a decent but ultimately unremarkable car that must do more to continue to earn a place in the world.

Peugeot 508 SW Allure 2.0 BlueHDi 150

Price £27,795; 0-62mph 10.1sec; Top speed 130mph; Economy 67.3mpg; CO2 110g/km; Kerb weight 1520kg; Engine 4cyls, 1997cc, turbodiesel; Power 148bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 273lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual

10 September 2014
A quick look shows respective real world prices for a 508SW GT and 320d touring automatic of around 23k and 27k, and that's assuming you're buying the GT for the handling rather than the gadgetry.

And of course the 320d is a smaller car, the 508SW is the size of the 5 series which is a further three or four thousand on top of that.

Granted, that's the price of the non-facelifted model but given it sounds like the changes aren't large it may be a more accurate indication than the list price.

10 September 2014
I think the 508 is such a handsome car I could almost forgive it a few imperfections. It's a shame the ride isn't good like it should be. I still fondly remember our family Peugeot 406 which had ride quality and refinement I've not experienced since. It also handled extremely well. It can't just be by chance. I wonder why all cars don't do at least as well now.

10 September 2014
"Buy a £30k, 197bhp, 2.2-litre HDI ‘GT’-badged car and you’ll get an upgraded chassis, with double-wishbone suspension up front, that's tuned to deliver pleasingly fluent and precise steering, a closely controlled supple ride and decent, if slightly nose-lead, cornering balance. There again, that means the best 508 is BMW 320d money."

Well, Matt, that's exactly the kind of comparison that's relevant here; top-spec non-premium, vs poverty-spec premium. How about it?

10 September 2014
michael knight wrote:

Well, Matt, that's exactly the kind of comparison that's relevant here; top-spec non-premium, vs poverty-spec premium. How about it?

If I remember rightly they did that when the current Mondeo first arrived, and it wiped the floor with the 3 series, and I don't think they have bothered doing one again.

10 September 2014
I'm a happy owner of a 508 SW (that's how the estate is badged here in Italy) with the 163Hp Diesel.
A BMW 320 d is for sure a better driver car, but didn't have any chance to enter in my short list when I purchased the 508, because it's simply TOO SMALL for my family.
A 520 or an E Class Merc have similar (not better) interior and boot space, but have a street price that's almost the double of 508 (at least here in Italy).
I totally disagree on comparing 508 (or Mondeo, Passat, Superb, etc) to smaller size premium saloons.

10 September 2014
If it was down to Autocar I think everyone would drive a BMW or similar driver orientated car. Some people are interested in their cars ability to carry children with their dog and all their clobber on holiday and a BMW 320d tourer is incapable of holding more than an overnight bag in the boot....

Unfortunately if it hasn't got the right badge and doesn't handle like a sports car then it automatically religates the car to the 'no thanks' pile.

10 September 2014
Safari wrote:

If it was down to Autocar I think everyone would drive a BMW or similar driver orientated car. Some people are interested in their cars ability to carry children with their dog and all their clobber on holiday and a BMW 320d tourer is incapable of holding more than an overnight bag in the boot....

Unfortunately if it hasn't got the right badge and doesn't handle like a sports car then it automatically religates the car to the 'no thanks' pile.

A lot of comments on here from people who've clearly not been in the latest 3 series touring.

I used to have a C5 estate which has exactly the same chassis as this 508, including the double wishbone front suspension. The latest F31 3 series has at least as much interior space as the c5 and the boot is only around 30 litres smaller. It's taken my family on holiday no problem and I can fit a rather large laboradoodle in the boot which is substantially larger than an overnight bag...

11 September 2014
Lee23404 wrote:

A lot of comments on here from people who've clearly not been in the latest 3 series touring.

A lot of comments on here, in virtually all threads, from people who know nothing about the thing they profess to hate most - German cars. The same tired stereotyped arguments get trotted out time and again (just a tarted up Golf, uncomfortable, unreliable, boring etc.) by people who have obviously never been near one but they just know that they hate them. I drive an A6 and a Focus and I love driving both of them but for different reasons.

Back to the Peugeot, I think the 508SW is a really handsome car. You can tell there are some enthusiastic engineers at Peugeot just bursting to show what they can do and I hope they can carry the progress over to when the new 508 comes out in a few years.


11 September 2014
bomb wrote:
Lee23404 wrote:

A lot of comments on here from people who've clearly not been in the latest 3 series touring.

A lot of comments on here, in virtually all threads, from people who know nothing about the thing they profess to hate most - German cars. The same tired stereotyped arguments get trotted out time and again (just a tarted up Golf, uncomfortable, unreliable, boring etc.) by people who have obviously never been near one but they just know that they hate them. I drive an A6 and a Focus and I love driving both of them but for different reasons.

Back to the Peugeot, I think the 508SW is a really handsome car. You can tell there are some enthusiastic engineers at Peugeot just bursting to show what they can do and I hope they can carry the progress over to when the new 508 comes out in a few years.

Fully agree with both points. The 3-series USED TO be pretty tight space wise, but the latest model, while perhaps not quite as roomy as the 5-series sized 508, has plenty of space for most people. And yet the people who moan about the 3-series not having enough space, also moan about it getting too big. Can't have it both ways.

I also like the look of the 508. It looks quite handsome and has a nice, comfortable interior with refined manners. The only problem for the 508 in a market like the Uk's is its sheer size and the diminishing sales of the mid-large sized saloons sector.

10 September 2014
2 different front suspension systems? Why not just use the better one. But, if you want the one that drives a bit better, you have to have an auto. Want some performance. Sorry. Want petrol, sorry...... Its a nice car but it could be so much more. Only making versions that appeal to the non aspiratioal end of the fleet market will never work unless you are going for a bargain basement approach.....its all such a shame as it looks good, and seems well made but that isnt enough to make me want one.

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