What is the Peugeot 508?
The time when a large four-door saloon was a statement of accomplishment has long gone. Now, unless it has a posh badge on the front, such a car looks pointlessly overspecified, profligate to run and, above all, unfashionable. The result is that cars such as the 508 are a depreciation nightmare, as customers desert them in favour of equally overblown and even thirstier cod off-roaders.
On top of that, Peugeot may be renowned for many things, but building big saloons is not one of them. All in all, hopes for the 508 may not look high. However, if you can get past its slightly dull yet rather odd looks, here is a car of considerable merit. It is available as a saloon or an estate, but while the wagon is the better-looking of the two, the Ford Mondeo and VW Passat in estate form will both carry far more clobber.
Though petrol engines are available, as is a diesel-electric hybrid, almost all sales will be distributed among three conventional diesel versions. And, expensive though it is, the 201bhp 2.2-litre GT model is the one that stands out, offering effortless and ultra-refined performance through its standard automatic gearbox while apparently using no more fuel than the comparatively gutless 2-litre with automatic gears. The 140bhp 2.0 HDI is a more realistically-priced real-world alternative, nonetheless, with the six-speed manual gearbox to move it along.
Perhaps more encouraging still for those of us old enough to remember a time when Peugeot produced the finest-riding and best-handling mass-produced cars on the planet, the 508’s chassis does much to restore Peugeot’s latterly somewhat shaky reputation in this field. Not only does the 508 ride extremely well, with that long-legged, supple gait that was once the hallmark of French cars, but it’s also a pleasure to guide down the open road.
Massive strides have been taken inside the car, as anyone who has owned this car’s predecessor, the 407, will see. It’s all soft-touch materials, little slivers of chrome and, at last, sensibly arranged controls — a cabin that, to look at, is worthy of a VW or, at a stretch, even an Audi. A shame, then, that on cars equipped with sat nav, the control systems remain complex and often illogical.
There’s lots of room in the 508: the driving position is quite high but entirely comfortable, while, in the back, three normal-sized adults can travel in complete comfort over long distances. However, the boot is only average in size by the standards of the class.
The one to buy
Peugeot 508 2.0 HDi Active
- 1997cc, 4 cylinders
- 140bhp @ 4000rpm
- 240 lb ft @ 2000rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 9.8sec
- Top speed:
- 61.4mpg (combined)
- Road tax band:
- L 4792mm, W 1920mm, H 1456mm
Peugeot 508 rivals
Ford Mondeo (click here for used prices on driving.co.uk)
Skoda Superb (click here for used prices on driving.co.uk)
Volkswagen Passat (click here for used prices on driving.co.uk)