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.