For as long as there’s been a family car, Peugeot has had some sort of offering, and where some were good, more recent models really failed to match up to the best in class like the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat and even the Skoda Superb. Even rivals from Korea have attracted buyers, but that could be about to chance with this the 508, a car that promises improved driving dynamics, state of the art technology and of course a more stylish design.
Let’s start with the design; the 508 certainly looks sportier and eye-catching than previous offerings. This sweeping coupe-like profile really sets the tone for the car, and the frameless doors really give it a more premium look, and these headlamps with daytime running lights that pop out like fangs really give it character that we’ve not seen before from Peugeot in this class.
The driver sits quite low behind the wheel and that echoes the sporty nature of the 508. There’s a good range of steering and seat adjustment so getting comfortable is straightforward. One slight frustration is the steering wheel, which is quite small, and for some might be a bit off-putting. It’s been flatted at the top and bottom, at the top to see the instrument binnacle, at the bottom to give it a sportier feel. Overall the quality of the materials is a real step up too.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Peugeots i-Cockpit system, but this is the latest evolution of it which means a 12.3 inch digital display in front of the driver and much like Audi’s virtual cockpit it’s fully configurable. All models from Allure and above get a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system which controls all the standard features like Bluetooth, DAB radio, sat nav and car settings.
What’s also impressive is that no matter which spec you go for, you won’t be short of equipment, with all models equipped with climate control, parking sensors, auto lights and wipers and part electric seat adjustment.
While the Peugeot is impressive on kit and looks, it can’t match the best in class for space. Legroom is good all round and while headroom is ok in the front, taller passengers will struggle in the back because of that sloping roofline. The seats fold 60:40 to extend the boot space from 487 litres to 1537 litres. If you want more space though, then an estate version is on the way.
One area the Peugeot needed to improve was the driving manners, and let’s be honest with a car that looks as sporty as this, it needs to be backed up by an engaging drive. Things are definitely a step in the right direction, the small steering wheel gives it more of a go-kart like feel, and the ride, which can be a little on the firm side at times, is lesswishy-washyy than its predecessor. That means it’s far more capable of tackling corners at pace.
As you’d expect, there’s a mix of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, the diesels are capable rather than sparkling performance wise with the most powerful 177bhp 2.0litre diesel doing the 0-60 dash in around 8 seconds.
If you are after a more spirited drive, then one of the two 1.6 litre petrol’s, with either 177 or 222bhp, will be the ones to go for. Both are able to hit 60 from standstill in under eight seconds, as well as a higher top speed. Drive them carefully and they should return a more than respectable 50mpg too. Unsurprisingly the diesels are more frugal ranging between 60 and 76mpg, but the most notable engine to talk about is the BlueHDi which emits under 100g/km of CO2, good news for company car drivers.
One of the areas that Peugeot has improved things is the technology that’s available, with options including a fully autonomous parking system which means it will park the car for you without you having to touch the steering wheel or brake, an adaptive cruise control system that will slow the car down to a stop in traffic and pull away without you needed to touch any of the pedals, and you can even spec it with night vision, which was something that was previously only reserved for high end luxury cars.
Overall the 508 is an attractive proposition, especially for company car drivers. It certainly looks more exciting than Peugeot family cars of old, it’s available with impressively high levels of equipment and it’s the sort of car you can actually enjoy driving. Downsides? Well headroom is limited for taller passengers in the back, and overall space isn’t as impressive as rivals like the Mondeo or Superb, plus the ride can be a little firm at times.