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Peugeot 508 road test report

Peugeot 508

Peugeot is modest about its sales claims for the 508 as it hopes to avoid direct comparisons with the likes of the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat. The French firm mentions Audi and Mercedes in the same breath as the 508, but the reality is this family saloon must do battle with the mainstream of the family car class if it is to establish itself more solidly than its predecessor, the 407. To this end, the 508 is larger in every direction and a much classier car, so the signs are good for Peugeot.

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Peugeot 508

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Performance Performance - 3 stars

There are two petrol engines on offer in the 508 saloon, both 1.6-litres in size but with 120- and 156bhp on tap. The less potent is the cheapest way into 508 ownership, but few will choose this route as performance is only just on the acceptable side with 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds. Take the 156bhp 1.6 and 0-62mph drops to a much zingier 8.6 seconds and the more powerful engine also comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard instead of the 120bhp version’s six-speed EGC (electronic gearbox control) automated manual. This gearbox is the Achilles Heel of the 508 range, but is used to help keep carbon dioxide emissions low. It’s why the same gearbox makes an appearance in the 1.6 e-HDi turbodiesel model to offer emissions of 109g/km. The standard five-speed manual with the same diesel engine only provides 124g/km emissions, though its 0-62mph is 11.3 seconds to the e-HDi EGC’s 11.9. More importantly than outright pace is the way the automated manual lunges from gear to gear. It requires to the driver to still drive as if there’s a clutch pedal present and lift his or her right foot from the throttle as the ’box changes gear to smooth out shifts. This seems to us to defeat the purpose of this type of gearbox, though there are paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel to restore some control to the driver. Even so, this gearbox is often slow and dull-witted when it comes to reacting to the driver’s inputs. The more potent 2.0-litre 140bhp diesel has a standard six-speed manual, though its shift action has the same slight notchiness that has hampered Peugeot cars for years. For the 163- and 200bhp turbodiesel 2.0-litres, a normal six-speed automatic takes care of business and these engines offer brisk performance.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

Peugeot offers two front suspension set-ups with the 508, though the double wishbone arrangement is only used on top spec GT models. Just as well as it ruins an otherwise perfectly well balanced mix of comfort and control. The larger alloy wheels of the GT models only serve to accentuate the exceeding firmness and bump-averse nature of this suspension, which Peugeot says it has developed specifically for comfort and sporting control. On the sporting side, we didn’t notice any cornering benefit and, if anything, the GT model has steering with even less feel and sensitivity than the standard suspension used on every other 508. Stick with the lesser spec models of 508 and the ride is supple, controlled and refuses to let noise and kicks from the outside world intrude into the cabin. The 508 is a very refined car in general and we found the e-HDi’s 1.6-litre turbodiesel to be the quietest of the bunch.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 4 stars

There’s no arguing with the way Peugeot puts together the 508. It feels far more solid and of a piece than the 407. The mix of materials and fabrics works well and the cabin is more than up to the rigours of family or business life. Peugeot’s new EGC six-speed automated manual gearbox is uncharted territory when it comes to reliability, so we’ll reserve judgement here. However, the rest of the mechanical package should be trouble-free as it’s proven its worth before.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

Peugeot has not spared the rod when it comes to equipping the 508 with safety equipment. Every model comes with six airbags as standard, as well as anti-whiplash headrests, ESP stability and traction control. More expensive 508 models also come with Peugeot’s Connect SOS system that automatically calls the emergency services in the event of an accident where the airbags are triggered. The driver can also press the SOS button if there is an emergency. There’s also the option of a head-up display so the driver can read vital information without taking his or her eyes from the road ahead for as long a time. Security is taken care of by deadlocks, an alarm and immobiliser.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

The driver is well looked after in the 508 for steering wheel and seat adjustment, but we found in every model that we could not lower the driver’s seat that extra fraction for complete comfort. It wasn’t a major issue, but left us feeling more perched on the car than sat in it. Still, this did help with superb forward vision, but the view over the driver’s shoulder is not so clear due to the sweep of the rear pillars. The dash is a much clearer design than the previous 407’s and Peugeot now offers a simple rotary control to operate functions on the display screen, which is easy to read. In the back seats, there’s a whole lot of head, leg and shoulder room, while the boot is a very generous 515-litres and the rear seats split and tip to free up more luggage space.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

The two key models in the 508 line-up are the 2.0-litre turbodiesel with 140bhp, which is set to be the fleet-friendly model for the time being, and the 1.6 e-HDi with its EGC automated manual gearbox. Peugeot hopes the 1.6 e-HDi will take over as the fleet choice thanks to its 109g/km carbon dioxide emissions and 67.2mpg combined economy, which are very impressive for this size of car. The 2.0 HDi 140’s 58.9mpg and 125g/km emissions are still very reasonable but not as tax efficient for business users. Peugeot has come up with five trim levels for the 508, starting with the Access entry models. They come with electric windows, air conditioning, CD stereo, all of the safety kit and daytime running lights, but steel wheels seem a mean inclusion for the price. Go for the SR and you gain alloy wheels, Peugeot’s Connect SOS system, cruise control and Bluetooth connection, so this is the fleet buyer’s choice. The Active model has larger alloys, fancier stereo and automatic headlights and wipers, while the Allure gains rear parking sensors, keyless entry, half leather upholstery and electrically adjusted front seats. Top spec GT models have double wishbone front suspension, head-up display as standard, full leather trim and Xenon headlights.

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