Peugeot 508 review
The Peugeot 508 has its alternatives licked on looks both inside and out, plus is comfy to drive, but it’s not as spacious or practical as other family cars.
What's not so good
Find out more about the Peugeot 508
If you need a large family car, but don’t want to be too sensible just yet, the Peugeot 508 could be the model for you. If a Volkswagen Passat is a smart shirt-and-chinos combo, the 508 is more of a sharp Givenchy suit, probably worn by a model smoking Gauloise outside a Left Bank cafe. It’s tres cool.
But while its stylish five-door coupe body looks great, the back seats are noticeably more cramped than in alternatives such as the Skoda Superb.
Okay, so you might have to put up with a few complaints from tall passengers in the back, but you certainly can’t accuse the Peugeot 508’s interior of being boring. Its dashboard design is far more interesting than most alternatives and all models come with two large infotainment screens that make the cabin look bang-up-to-date.
If you’re more interested in old-fashioned, solid build quality, however, the Peugeot 508 might not be the car for you. It’s certainly not terrible, but the Peugeot’s materials don’t feel as consistently brilliant as those in a Skoda Superb. But driving the Peugeot 508 feels much sportier than pottering about in the Skoda thanks to the 508’s low-set driving position. Not everyone will be a fan of its small steering wheel, though.
If you’re a tall person sitting in the back, you’ll feel more crushed than cocooned. The Peugeot 508’s rear seat isn’t great for headroom and isn’t overly generous with knee room either.
The Peugeot 508 feels like a sports car that was born in the wrong body
The boot isn’t the biggest – look to a Superb if that what matters most to you – but the 508’s large hatchback door makes loading bulky items relatively easy, even if you do have to lift them over a slight boot lip.
So, the Peugeot 508’s practicality might not be particularly impressive, but if you’re considering a sporty-looking saloon car, you’ll likely have more than a passing interest in how it drives – and you won’t be too disappointed. The Peugeot 508 is fun to drive down a twisty road, but also manages to smooth out bumps quite effectively too.
The Peugeot 508 isn’t quite so clever when it comes to autonomous driving tech, however. It’s available with active cruise control and lane assist, but these systems aren’t as sophisticated as those you’ll find in a Volvo V60.
The Peugeot 508’s 1.6-litre petrol engines will soon take your mind off that. With either 180 or 225hp, both sound sporty, can accelerate past slower-moving traffic easily and maintain a decent lick on twisting B roads.
If you regularly drive long distances, however, you’ll want a diesel car and the 130hp 1.5-litre model is your best option. Quick would be the wrong word, but it has plenty of punch for motorway driving and should manage more than 60mpg at a cruise.
For ultimate fuel economy, there’s a plug-in hybrid version. You can drive around 30 miles on electricity alone and combined with the higher-powered petrol, it has a claimed 217mpg. Although you’ll have to drive like a saint to actually achieve that figure.
Other family cars are better built and more spacious, but if that all sounds a bit too ‘pipe and slippers’ for you, then the 508’s stylish design and fun drive make it worthy of a place on your shortlist. Check out how much you could save in the Peugeot 508 deals section.
The Peugeot 508 has roomy front seats and a fairly big boot with a large opening but the car’s sloping roofline means rear-seat space is badly compromised.
The Peugeot 508 comes with a decent amount of seat adjustment to help you get comfortable. Electric lumbar support comes as standard to help reduce back ache on long drives and all models come with heated front seats.
Unfortunately, the Peugeot 508’s small steering wheel presents a few problems. It’s mounted lower down than in most saloons and doesn’t have a great deal of adjustment so it can obscure some of the digital driver’s display – especially if you prefer a low seating position.
GT cars and above come as standard with massage seats, but the pulsing airbags are so feeble you can’t help but think an arthritic pensioner would do a better job of easing an aching back.
Back-seat passengers have more pressing things to worry about than the intensity of their massage, however. For them, simply fitting beneath the Peugeot 508’s sloping roof may prove a challenge. Any passengers over six-feet tall will find their head brushing on the ceiling and the small rear windows make the back seats feel unnecessarily claustrophobic.
The tight rear knee room doesn’t help, either. There isn’t enough room for a six-foot passenger to sit comfortably behind an equally tall driver and there’s barely any space for their feet under the front seats. On the plus side, all models get a rear centre armrest as standard.
The Peugeot 508’s curved roofline means there’s slightly more headroom in the central rear seat, but the harder seat padding and lack of shoulder room mean three adults will feel very hemmed-in on long journeys.
Even fitting a child seat is affected by the low roofline. You’ll have to stoop down some distance to strap in a child if you’re very tall. The standard Isofix anchor points aren’t particularly easy to locate, either – they’re hidden behind zipped pockets in the back-seat padding.
The Peugeot 508 comes with a number of well-sized storage spaces that should make it easy to keep clutter to a minimum. The front doors have room for a 1.0-litre bottle of water each, there’s a tray in front of the gearstick with a couple of USB ports for charging your phone and you can get an optional wireless charging pad tucked under the centre console.
You get two cup holders up front and two more in the rear centre armrest, plus a smaller storage space with butterfly doors between the two front seats. The rear door bins aren’t quite as generous as those in the front though, and the nets fitted to the backs of the front seats feel quite cheap.
The Peugeot 508 has a 487-litre boot that’s slightly smaller than you get in a Mazda 6, and noticeably down on what a Volkswagen Passat offers.
That said, the 508’s boot is easier to load than the Passat’s thanks to its large hatchback-style boot opening. There isn’t a particularly large boot lip to lift heavy luggage over, either, but you can’t get it with an adjustable boot floor to help you slide large items into place easily.
That being said, the boot is large enough to carry two large and two suitcases at once. There’s also enough space to carry a large baby stroller on its side and a set of golf clubs, with enough room left over for a couple of soft bags. The Peugeot 508’s sloping rear windscreen means there isn’t quite enough space to carry a large box, though – even if you remove the tiny parcel shelf.
Fold all the back seats down and you get a completely flat floor and 1,537 litres of space – enough to fit a bike in with both of its wheels attached and around 5% bigger than the boot in a Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport.
In terms of features, the boot has floor-mounted tethers so you can secure your luggage, hooks for keeping your shopping bags upright and a 12V power socket, so you have somewhere to plug in a portable vacuum if you need to give the boot a clean. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough space to store the parcel shelf under the boot floor if you need to remove it to carry tall items.
The Peugeot 508 is easy to drive and cheap to run, but some of the higher-powered engines are expensive to buy.
The Peugeot 508 feels more agile than most saloons, but a five-door sportscar it ain't…
The Peugeot 508 is available with a choice of three diesel and two petrol engines and there is the option of a plug-in hybrid version too. Most models come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
In fact, it’s only the 130hp 1.5-litre diesel – the cheapest car in the range – that comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. That shouldn’t put you off, though, because the basic diesel has enough power in reserve to make sure you don’t need to be changing gear like your life depends on it. It should get around 60mpg in real-word driving too.
If you want more performance, you can also choose from 2.0-litre diesel models with 160 and 180hp, but they’re expensive to buy and still not that fast.
If you’re not schlepping hundreds of miles up and down the motorway every day the petrol engines are a better bet. The 180hp 1.6-litre PureTech petrol is not only smoother than the diesels, it also feels sportier to drive and noticeably quicker – getting from 0-62mph in a respectable 7.9 seconds and manages about 40mpg in real-world conditions.
The 225hp 1.6-litre PureTech petrol is only available on high-end trim levels, which makes the 508 starts to look a bit expensive.
If low running costs are your top priority, then the 217mpg average fuel economy of the 508 Plug-in Hybrid will certainly catch the eye. It combines the 225hp petrol engine with an 80kw electric motor making the 508 quick, quiet and economical to run, but even more expensive to buy. Officially averages 217mpg. Still, it can travel around 30 miles on electric power alone. Charging at home with a 7kw wall charger should take no longer than two hours and should cost less than £2 ‘fill-up’.
Old Peugeot cars used to be famed for their ability to smooth out bumpy roads while also being agile in bends – a reputation that’s set to return with this new Peugeot 508.
The 508 can gobble up country roads at an impressive lick, absorbing bumpy surfaces with ease and gripping the road with confidence – leaving you to deal with the important job of pointing it safely around corners.
You’ll find the i-Cockpit steering wheel – that feels oddly small in other Peugeots – kindo of fits the 508, allowing you to zap it in and out of tight bends without flailing your arms. It’s reasonably nimble for a mid-sized saloon, but the 508 isn’t as much fun to drive as a Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport – even in Sport mode when the steering feels heavier, the suspension firmer and the accelerator more responsive.
Turn off the country roads and onto the motorway and the Peugeot 508 feels more at home. Its suspension does a good job of smoothing out bumps and the relatively quiet cabin helps long trips fly by. Wind noise is well muted, but you’ll hear more noise from the tyres rumbling on the road surface than in the Skoda Superb and VW Passat.
Sadly, you can’t get the Peugeot 508 with quite as much advanced self-driving tech as the Volvo V60. You’ll have to be content with the adaptive cruise control, which can brake and accelerate for you, and the gentle steering of lane assist that’s fitted to GT models and above.
On the upside, you do get an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard on all but the entry-level diesel model. It changes gear smoothly, taking the stress out of stop-start town traffic but it doesn’t respond particularly quickly if you use the steering-wheel-mounted paddles to choose when to change gear.
The plug-in hybrid has a ‘B’ mode which means you can drive the car a bit like the Nissan Leaf electric car, so when you lift off the accelerator, the car starts to slow down, so effectively you drive using just a single pedal.
It also has an e-save mode which charges up the car’s batteries while you’re on the motorway, so you have a full charge when you reach town and want to drive on electricity only.
Rear parking sensors are fitted to all models so you can park easily without worrying about the rather restricted view through the Peugeot 508’s small back windows. Move up to an Allure version and you’ll also get front parking sensors and a rear camera. You don’t have to worry about low-speed shunts because the Peugeot 508 comes as standard with automatic emergency braking.
The Peugeot 508 has a smart design, but alternatives feel more solid.
Peugeot 508 colours
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.