As stylish as the 508 looks, and it looks really stylish, there is just something familiar about it. Think 407 Coupe and the 607 large saloon combined. Clearly, Peugeot has taken inspiration from their 1990s and early 2000s design heritage. The second generation 508 throws away the frumpy looks of the first generation and it now sports a new philosophy… cool.
The first thing you notice is how low it sits. As you open the door you step down into the cabin lower than expected. It’s almost like a supercar experience. Then you are met with a moderately plush interior. For this segment at least.
It’s got the i-Cockpit digital instrument binnacle, soft-touch materials abound. But admittedly not where it mostly goes unnoticed. Nevertheless, the quality feels better than a VW Passat interior. Even though the Passat has the ever so slightly better build quality.
Peugeot’s latest interior design language really sets a tone and offers a unique identity. It’s minimalism with flair, organised and discoverable for the millennial touchscreen/sat/nav generation.
The 508 carries over the first generation’s trim levels, Active, Allure, GT Line, GT and adds a top spec First Edition. Prices start from £25k and range up to £37k for top spec model trims. Standard equipment is fairly generous. Highlights include emergency brake assist, cruise control, electric heated and power fold door mirrors, that 12.3-inch digital instrument binnacle, 8.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, USB ports, LED daytime running lights, climate control, DAB etc.
Option highlights include Active suspension, a premium audio system and even night vision.
Standard driving technology includes distance alert and Lane Keeping assistant. In terms of powertrain options, the new 508 will have petrol engine options, both 1.6-litre PureTech turbocharged engines, with power outputs ranging from 181bhp and 227bhp. The three turbodiesel options are offered in two states 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre with power ranging from 131bhp to 163 and 177 respectively. The automatic transmission has been updated to an eight-speed Aisin EAT8 unit, replacing the older EAT6 units. A plug-in hybrid version is in development.
Obviously the higher the trim level the more equipment you get. And of course, that’s before you feast on the options list. For example, LED headlights are standard from GT Line onwards.
One of the signature features of the second generation 508 is the frameless doors. And yes it does add a touch of class to the whole experience. More Monaco than Morcombe Bay.
The interior space up-front is perfectly accommodating. However, the rear is not so. Yes, the doors open wide but the rear wheel arches arc into the way making access slightly undignified. Once seated in the rear the coupe style sloping rear roof doesn’t sit well with passengers over 6ft tall.
A sporty new look demands a sporty drive. And for the most part, the new 508 does a pretty good job with ride and handling. Whereas the first generation 508 was more about comfort the second generation feels stiffer and more alert. Grip levels are high at low to mid speeds. A stiffer suspension and antiroll-bar and a well-balanced chassis setup allow for excellent handling characteristics.
However, there is a trade-off. The ride isn’t as supple as the previous generation. And you know what? That’s a good thing. You can really hustle the 508 into corners, and it just grips no end. OK, so the electronic steering isn’t informative but I can live with that. In terms of handling, The 508 reminds me a little of the VW Golf R. It seems there is no limit to how far you can push. If that’s what you want to do.
Over rough surfaces the ride can get jittery, it doesn’t “slush” out imperfections and the 508 works best over smooth road surfaces. And that’s always been the Peugeot way. Except for the 308 which has the best ride of any Peugeot.
The 1.5-litre turbo diesel offers up 131bhp and 300Nm torque. It sounds small capacity but it felt punchy, indeed it never felt underpowered. It’s modestly quiet on a cruise and fairly well subdued during acceleration phases unless pushed hard. Indeed it offers excellent driveability throughout the gear range. The 6-speed manual gearbox is engaging enough and does the job.
As with most modern day cars, the 508 is equipped with driving modes. All you need to know is just leave it Sports mode. However, when you are cruising on a motorway switch it to Eco mode. Sports is like giving the 508 Ecstasy tablets, the computer will tend to downshift when cruising at say 70mph when your mind is telling you to be in a higher gear. All told I was getting up to 60mpg on a combined run.
Perhaps the best feature of all is the hatchback configuration. This adds so much more practicality over a saloon style boot. So what you are getting is essentially an estate car but with coupe styling. But not with total estate car practicality.
If you are interested in getting a VW Passat or Arteon, perhaps you are a company car driver or private leaser, I suggest you stop and consider the Peugeot 508. No, I suggest you reconsider and go for the 508, yes its got a few drawbacks but it feels better inside and out than a current VW offering. As a side-example, our long term VW Tiguan cannot match the flair and quality of the 508.