The Peugeot 508 is the French firm's big contender in the family car class, taking on established heavy hitters such as the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and Volkswagen Passat. While its exterior style may not be to everyone's taste, there's no denying that it definitely stands out from the crowd and its attributes are far more than skin deep. Luxurious and comfortable, the 508 is also good to drive and while the Mondeo and Passat are probably better overall, it offers something that little bit out of the ordinary. The only stumbling block is its price, really, with the top-of-the-range model getting very close to more accomplished executive models like the BMW 3-Series in terms of cost. The 508 comes in five versions – entry-level Access, Active, SR, Allure and top-spec GT – and is also available as a five-door SW estate.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
If you want keep costs to an absolute minimum, then we’d recommend the diesel-electric Hybrid4, which returns an excellent 78.5mpg and emits a tax-free 95g/km of CO2. But nearly as good is the efficient 1.6 e-HDi diesel, which comes fitted with stop-start as standard for better fuel economy. CO2 emissions for this model stand at 109g/km, which means road tax is free for the first year and fairly inexpensive every year thereafter – and it still returns a decent 64.2mpg. Even the top-of-the-range 2.2-litre diesel is pretty efficient, with CO2 emissions of 150g/km, and fuel economy of 49.6mpg. But if it absolutely has to be petrol, even those engines are also quite cheap to run, with emissions ranging from 144g/km in the basic 1.6-litre engine. Pair any engine in the range with an automatic and the efficiency inevitably suffers.
Interior & comfort
There are more comfortable cars available in this class, such as the VW Passat for one, but that doesn’t mean that the 508 isn’t perfectly comfy for a car of its dimensions. In fact, its firm suspension is surprisingly excellent at soaking up the bumps on rough and uneven UK road surfaces. Also, the interior is nicely sound proofed, so the engines, including the diesels, are barely audible inside the car. Road and wind noise are also kept to a minimum as a result of a special soundproofed windscreen. Comfortable seats with good side bolstering also mean that this Peugeot is great for travelling long distances. There's also a very handy head-up display that means you don’t have to take your eye off the road to keep track of your speed.
Practicality & boot space
If you want keep costs to an absolute minimum, then we’d recommend the diesel-electric Hybrid4, which returns an excellent 78.5mpg and emits a tax-free 95g/km of CO2. But nearly as good is the efficient 1.6 e-HDi diesel, which comes fitted with stop/start as standard for better fuel economy. CO2 emissions for this model stand at 109g/km, which means road tax is free for the first year. And it still returns a decent 64.2mpg. Even the top-of-the-range 2.2-litre diesel is pretty efficient, with CO2 emissions of 150g/km, and fuel economy of 49.6mpg. But if it absolutely has to be petrol, even those engines are also quite cheap to run, with emissions ranging from 144g/km in the basic 1.6-litre engine up to 164g/km in the automatic gearbox-equipped turbocharged 1.6-litre car. Pair any engine in the range with an automatic and the efficiency inevitably suffers.
Reliability & safety
While Peugeot had made some impressive improvements in the reliability of its cars over the past few years, unfortunately it still placed a lowly 31st in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. That's only one place off the bottom and a drop of three places from the 2012 poll. That said, the 508 does feel very well made and there haven’t been any problems reported so far. Sitting in the cabin you get the sense that a lot of care has been put into making sure that any electrical niggles and or build quality quibbles that blighted older Peugeots have been taken care of. It secured the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, getting a 97 per cent rating for its safety equipment, too. This includes clever touches like Peugeot's SOS system, an innovative optional extra that alerts the emergency services of your whereabouts if you are unlucky enough to be involved in an accident.
Engines, drive & performance
You get a good selection of engines to choose from in the 508, including 1.6-litre petrol engines ranging from 120bhp to 156bhp – with or without a turbo – as well as a range of powerful diesel engines. For performance, the fastest of the range is the 2.2-litre diesel GT, which can go from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds, but the four-wheel-drive Hybrid4 (which combines an electric motor with its diesel engine to also offer 200bhp) feels much more powerful on the motorway. All models handle extremely well, keeping body roll through the corners to a minimum and giving a good level of feedback back to the driver through the steering wheel. The six-speed EGC automatic gearbox may take some getting used to, however, as it's slow to shift gear and can become jerky if you don’t take your foot off the accelerator to give it time to change gear.
Price, value for money & options
The bad news is that resale values on the used car market are likely to be poor, so be sure that you really want to pay that not-inexpensive price tag because you won’t get much back on your investment when you’re looking to make a second-hand deal. That said, you do get a reasonable amount of equipment and accessories across the range. The entry-level Access model comes fitted with daytime running lights, air-conditioning and electric windows all-round as standard. Mid-range SR cars add luxuries like sat-nav, cruise control and 16-inch alloy wheels, while Allure models sit just below the top-of-the-range GT and provide almost everything you'll likely ever need, including half-leather electrically adjustable and heated seats, rear parking sensors and keyless start. If you do go for the expensive GT spec, you get upgraded sports suspension, full-leather upholstery, a colour head-up display and xenon headlights. The GT model is only available with the powerful 2.2-litre diesel engine, however, and only one model of the Hybrid4 is for sale, which is based on the equipment levels of the Allure spec.