While the last car was nothing to write home about, the Peugeot 508 Fastback (as well as the 508 SW estate version) offers a new-found sense of style that makes it one of the more appealing models for sale in the family car sector. Demand is falling for this type of car in favour of SUVs, but the rakish Peugeot still has the Volkswagen Passat, Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb to contend with, so the 508 certainly has its work cut out for it.
In its favour though is dramatic and sporting styling that really separates the 508 from its staid predecessor. The Fastback model might almost be attractive enough to tempt buyers out of more premium rivals such as the BMW 3 Series or Audi A4. Only time will tell if that’s actually the case.
It’s not just a pretty face though, as the 508 has an attractive interior that gives off a sporting vibe, and even in entry-level specification has a wide range of equipment. The fit and finish is excellent and the quality of the interior materials is spot on, too. Perhaps the main Achilles’ Heel for the 508 is that despite its generous proportions, it’s not the roomiest machine in its class. That’s especially true in the rear, where that sloping roof tends to eat into headroom. Similarly, a 487-litre boot capacity is just average for the class, too.
However, where the 508 does score highly is in its driving experience, as it’s both entertaining and comfortable. Based on the same basic architecture as the 3008 SUV, you might expect the 508 to offer the same excellent ride quality as its sibling, but it’s actually rather firmer. That’s not to say it doesn’t ride well: there’s some low-speed fidgeting, but at motorway speeds, it’s really very comfortable and an excellent place to while away the miles.
The benefit of the tauter chassis can be clearly felt on more demanding roads, as the 508 corners with unexpected precision. The well-weighted steering and a small steering wheel enhance the sporting feel of the car. It has excellent body control, and while the 508’s driving experience isn’t quite as finely honed as a BMW 3 Series’, it’s more than capable of holding its own against rivals such as the Passat or Insignia.
There’s a fairly extensive engine line up, with three diesel units – an entry-level 1.5-litre and two 2.0-litre units in different states of tune – while those after the ultimate in performance have the choice of two 1.6-litre petrol engines. The most powerful diesel and petrol engines are only available in the top of the range GT model though, which is very well equipped but expensive.
As mentioned, the 508 is well equipped, with even the entry-level Active model (only available with the 1.5-litre diesel engine) having sat nav, Peugeot’s i-Cockpit, dual zone climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist.
The Allure model (available with 1.5- and 2.0-litre diesel and 179bhp petrol engines) adds a larger 10-inch touchscreen for the infotainment, keyless go, heated seats, a reversing camera and more safety kit such as blind spot detection and speed limit and road sign recognition. If ordered with the petrol engine, adaptive suspension is also standard.
The GT Line models major on a sporting ambience with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and interior detailing, while the top of the range GT features 19-inch alloys, active cruise control, fully electric leather seats and active suspension for both engine variants. Also available at launch was a limited edition Launch Edition, which was fitted with virtually all the available options. The 508 SW range will be similar to the Fastback.