Selecting Sport via the 508’s centre console-mounted switch elicits a handful of changes to its character. In addition to a moderately more responsive throttle and meatier steering, the synthesised engine note sounds like it’s being broadcast in the cabin in stereo, or at least as though it has been double-tracked.
Were it a particularly euphonious soundtrack, this would be a welcome change; however, given the grumbly, diesely timbre of the 508’s BlueHDi motor, the increase in volume isn’t a particularly welcome one, and it ends up coming across as a flawed attempt at making the engine sound bigger and richer than it is. At maximum revs in fourth gear, our sound gear recorded cabin noise at 74dB; by comparison, the Volvo V60’s D4 engine – which we criticised for being overly vocal – measured 73dB.
Still, straight-line performance is agreeable for a car in this class. A timed 0-60mph run of 8.8sec – compromised, perhaps, by a scrabble for traction off the line – is roughly par for the course, if a little behind Peugeot’s 8.3sec 0-62mph claim. The 187bhp Audi A4 TDI tested in 2015 did the same run in 8.4sec, while the 2012 BMW 320d managed 7.6sec.
However, with similar torque (295lb ft for the Audi and 280lb ft for the BMW), the Germans bettered the 508 from 30mph to 70mph – a more representative benchmark for real-world accelerative potency – by considerable margins. While the Peugeot took 8.5sec, the A4 managed 7.2sec and the 320d needed 7.4sec.