Car reviews - Peugeot - 508 - range
Sharp styling inside and out, comfortable ride, strong spec levels, commendable NVH, slick i-Cockpit layout
Room for improvement
Transmission prone to lazy response, front-drive layout prone to understeer, infotainment system not as intuitive as segment leaders, rear legroom should be better
Peugeot impresses with stylish all-new 508 liftback sedan and wagon pair
20 Sep 2019
AFTER a self-described loss of mojo in recent years, Peugeot is making its way back into contention in the Australian market with a raft of new product, the latest of which is the 508 large car.
Launching with liftback sedan and wagon body styles, Peugeot is offering the 508 in a single, highly specified GT grade, which will serve as the flagship model for the French car-maker.
Peugeot is not expecting huge sales numbers for the 508 given the shrinking segments it plays in, however is hoping it can raise the brand to new heights with quality and luxury.
Does the 508 have what it takes to give Peugeot its mojo back?
First drive impressions
The 508 was never going to be a big seller for Peugeot. Straddling the mid-size and large passenger-car segments, it competes in an area of the market that has worn the brunt of a huge increase in the popularity of SUVs.
Furthermore, only one model grade is being offered, with both the sedan and wagon arriving in showrooms in top-spec GT form.
With only one variant on offer, Peugeot has packed an impressive list of specification into the 508, resulting in only two optional extras on offer – a $2500 panoramic sunroof, and metallic or pearlescent paint hues.
Features include Nappa leather seats with heating and massaging functionality, a 10-speaker audio system, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. a 10.0-inch infotainment screen, an electric tailgate, wireless phone charging, full LED exterior lights, 18-inch alloys, four-mode adaptive suspension and a full suite of active safety features, to name a few.
The 508 is priced from $53,990 plus on-roads and $55,990 for the sedan and wagon respectively, pricing it competitively against the likes of the Volkswagen Passat 206TSI wagon ($62,290) and Arteon liftback sedan ($67,490).
As one would expect from a French manufacturer, style is front-of-mind for the 508, with a dashing design that stands out whether from the front or back.
In particular, the wagon looks great and combines with the claw-style tail-lights for a striking visual that is continued inside.
Along with a generous list of features, the 508 exudes a feeling of luxury and technology from its cabin, headlined by Peugeot’s i-Cockpit cabin with its small, low-set steering wheel, top-mounted instrument cluster and dashboard that surrounds the driver.
Like its 5008 mid-size SUV sibling, the 508’s cabin feels futuristic and tech-centric, mixing French flair with a space-age uniqueness that is unlike any other brand on the market.
While unconventional, the low wheel/high cluster layout works well and almost removes the need for a head-up display. A range of configurable views are available for the cluster, which offer plentiful choice for drivers.
Premium materials are found throughout the cabin with a mix of leather, piano black, carbon-look plastic weave and soft-touch plastic, while haptic buttons and silver dials are used for the infotainment system.
Interior dimensions are comfortable for front passengers, while storage space is also ample with 487 litres of space in the sedan, up to a generous 530L in the wagon.
However, we did come away a little disappointed in the 508’s rear legroom, with taller rear-seat occupants likely to experience their knees being wedged against the back of the front seats.
Projected onto a 10.0-inch screen, Peugeot’s infotainment system looks slick and aesthetic with great clarity, and for the most part works well.
It is a small complaint, but Peugeot’s system is not quite as intuitive as the best offerings in the segment, however owners should be able to quickly adjust to the system.
Given only one model grade is on offer, only one engine is being used for the 508 – a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder unit shared with the 308 GT hatch, which drives the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Power is rated at 165kW at 5500rpm, while torque is boosted by 15Nm over the 308, at 300Nm from 2500rpm. Official fuel consumption is pegged at 6.3 litres per 100km, while a petrol particulate filter helps keep emissions down to 142 grams of CO2 per km.
Performance from the 1.6-litre mill is certainly adequate for most driving situations, with a smooth and comfortable driving character that works well around town. A smaller-capacity engine also helps the 508 keep relatively frugal, sipping less fuel than rivals with larger, thirstier powerplants.
During our drive, we recorded a fuel consumption figure of 7.7L/100km over a mix of predominantly back-country and highway driving – not as good as Peugeot claims, but a decent figure nonetheless.
While power figures are more than adequate, the 508 is still by no means a performance car, with thrust a bit hard to come by low in the rev range. Throttle response is also a bit lazy down low particularly in Comfort mode, with the eight-speed auto taking some time to kick down gears when applying the throttle.
Switching to Sport mode helps lift revs and gives the engine a more immediate throttle response, however acceleration is still fairly tame, with a zero-to-100km/h sprint time of 8.1 seconds for the sedan, and an extra 0.1s for the wagon.
A front-wheel-drive layout also means there are better offerings for sporty handling, with understeer felt at high speeds with the front wheels beginning to scrabble for traction around corners.
While styling is important for the 508, Peugeot Australia made the decision to put 18-inch wheels on as standard instead of 19-inch hoops to improve ride quality, and we can safely say the right decision was made.
Ride quality, particularly in Comfort mode, is generally very good, with a plush and soft quality that only begins to wallow when driving on uneven surfaces at high speeds. Switching to Sport mode helps reduce body roll in corners but is generally too harsh for everyday driving, while Normal mode provides a good compromise between the two. A ride quality for all seasons, then.
Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels are commendable, with a quiet and comfortable cabin space, while a full suite of driver-assist systems helps to navigate highways with semi-autonomous driving and provides drivers with peace of mind.
It is a shame that the popularity of passenger cars is dying, because if you look past the supposed appeal of SUVs, there are a raft of well-equipped and practical vehicles such as the 508 that offer better handling and performance than their high-riding siblings.
It surely won’t set the world on fire for sales, however the 508 does a great job of flying the flag for Peugeot’s range. Looks like it has its mojo back.
Model release date: 1 September 2019
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