Peugeot's 508 enters a very competitive segment that is going to get even more crowded. Has it enough to compete at the top level?
Inside & Out: 8/10
Is the Peugeot 508 the best-looking car in its class? Some would say yes. Based heavily on the gorgeous SR1 concept car of 2010, much of the styling of that car has transferred into the new 508 and it is hugely different from the Peugeot 407 it replaces. At first glance there isn't really anything to tell you that it is a Peugeot. But then again we have come to expect the rulebook being ripped up by the French company of late. The chrome strip at the rear of the car doesn't really work for us, but aside from that this is a handsome and generously proportioned car. It needed to be bigger, as the 407 was criticised for its lack of rear space and the luggage space wasn't exactly class leading either.
Inside, the quality of the materials used in the new 508 is genuinely first class, with a really impressive interior. There are quite a lot of buttons on show, especially in and around the steering wheel, but our test car was the top spec Allure model with all the bells and whistles. It even had a head-up display and a really high-end JBL audio system fitted (for an extra €1,500). At this grade the car feels closer to an executive car than a family saloon so could genuinely be considered as a rival to the Volkswagen Passat, Opel Insignia and Ford Mondeo at the more premium end of the family saloon segment.
Engine & Transmission: 7/10
The choice of engines is confined to diesel power and while it is likely that most will choose the 112hp 1.6-litre HDi engine, this is where we would like to lean on you with our opinion. The car to buy is the 2.0-litre 140hp HDi, if possible.
While the starting point of the 508 range is the €24,850 112hp 1.6 HDi Access, you pay €27,300 to jump up a grade to the Active Grade with the same engine. Pay €29,100 and you can have the 140hp 2.0-litre HDi Access, which is such a good, quiet, refined and potent engine that it is surprising that it only adds 1g/km of CO2 to the 1.6 HDi's figure. If you are buying this car and the budget permits, make the jump to the 2.0-litre, because there is no tax penalty for doing so.
The third alternative is the e-HDi 1.6-litre that comes with stop-start and an electronically controlled Ecomatique transmission that reduces the emissions to Band A. You will probably buy this one if you want an automatic at this grade, not because it saves you money or fuel. It isn't the best transmission, so will be bought out of necessity first and foremost.
Ride & Handling: 8/10
This is a really strong area for the new Peugeot 508. The steering and handling are amongst the best in class. Over the course of our Irish road test we were really pleasantly surprised by how composed it was and by what a good chassis it has. Even shod with larger alloys, as our Allure model was, it coped well with poor road surfaces and on the motorway commute, which is somewhere where a lot of 508s will spend their time.
Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 9/10
We drove the top spec Allure model, which gains keyless entry, full leather upholstery, front parking sensors, electric parking brake, electric and heated front seats, front and rear carpet mats and 18-inch alloys. The cars are pretty well sorted out of the box, but the basic grade car is best avoided really unless you are okay with steel wheels. You do at least get manual air conditioning and ESP on all versions.
It makes way more sense to jump up to the Active grade, which adds rear parking sensors, cruise control, climate control, 17-inch alloys and more speakers. The core engines have emissions that place it in motor tax Band B, so that means €156 per year in road tax which a fuel consumption figure of 4.8 litres/100km is impressive in the 2.0-litre HDi model we drove. It's the pick of the line-up.
Peugeot's 508 enters a very crowded and competitive segment, but it must be considered at the premium end of the market because it feels, looks and drives at a very high standard.
Peugeot 508 2.0 HDi 140 Allure
- Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
- Maximum power: 140hp at 4,000rpm
- Maximum torque: 320Nm at 2,000rpm
- Acceleration (0-100km/h): 9.8 seconds
- Maximum speed: 210km/h
- Fuel economy (combined cycle): 4.8 litres/100km (58.8mpg)
- CO2 emissions: 125g/km
- Motor tax band: B
- Annual road tax: €156
- Retail price: Official price of test car without options is €32,550