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

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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

Add a comment…
gazza5 11 September 2014

pug

I think peugeot are stepping in the right direction. My wife has her first ever peugeot (2008) and is getting 42 mpg out of the 1.2 petrol. In her fiesta she was getting 34 doing the same sort of driving.

I quite like this car - but would not buy new - although I wouldn't buy any car new. WIth my family growing in 6 months to two children it will be time to say good buy to my astra and hello to a insignia or pug 508 - although I did like the 308 SW the other day with the 178bhp diesel engine.

Wanos 11 September 2014

Not much of an improvement...

I've got the current 508SW with the 110 engine and I'm very happy with it.
I'm yet to get less than 800 miles on a tank and the range counter has read 1150 miles before. I'm sure over 1000 miles on a tank on a long run would be achieved quite easily.
The build quality over the Insignia I looked at was massive and it was generally a nicer place to sit.
The new one doesnt seem like a massve improvemnet and the interior looks the same.
I got mine at 2 years old with 16k on the clock for less than half of the retail price.
The ride can be a bit hard at times but when you buy a big estate car who takes it to the ring? A BMW/Audi/Merc is not twice as good.
artill 10 September 2014

2 different front suspension

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.