The Peugeot 508 is comfortable, cheap to run and is impressively sporty to drive, but none of its engines is particularly punchy
The Peugeot 508 is available with a choice of three diesel and two petrol engines. 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 just to make steady progress.
It’ll get from 0-62mph in a so-so 9.7 seconds but its mid-range punch – when overtaking slow A-road traffic, say – is pokier than that figure suggests. Peugeot reckons it can return fuel economy of up to 74.3mpg.
The Peugeot 508 drives like a sports car that is trapped in a five-door body
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.
We’d advise you sidestep them, though, and instead go for the 180hp 1.6-litre PureTech petrol, which returns claimed fuel economy of up to 52.3mpg on a mixture of roads – although you’ll probably see a figure in the low forties in normal driving conditions. It’s 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.
Finally, there’s the top-of-the-range 225hp 1.6-litre PureTech petrol, which is only available on high-end trim levels. That makes it prohibitively expensive, particularly because it’s only marginally faster than the 180hp model.
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 – fits the 508, allowing you to zap it in and out of tight bends without flailing your arms.
Turn off the country roads and onto the motorway and the Peugeot’s suspension does an even better 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, and you don’t have to worry about low-speed shunts because the Peugeot 508 comes as standard with automatic emergency braking.
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.