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