Video review: Peugeot 508 Fastback
The new Peugeot 508 is a quantum leap ahead of the old one in possibly every area, but can its tech-filled interior and coupe styling sway people away from premium German brands?
Peugeot has been making some great cars of late. The 3008 crossover, for example, and the seven-seat 5008. Both offer tonnes of tech, refined economical engines and style at a reasonable price. But now Peugeot has gone one further. Enter the new 508 Fastback saloon.
Road tester extraordinaire Howard Ritchie has been putting it through its paces, but what else do you need to know? Well for starters, it’s a car that can happily sit alongside the likes of a Volkswagen Arteon and Audi A5 Sportback… in the styling department at least. Four-door fastbacks are in, and this might just be the best-looking one yet. Those pillarless doors are a truly classy touch, too.
Interior and trim levels
Inside, the good news continues. A low seating position means it feels as port as it looks, while the driver is cocooned by an array of tech, the integral part of which is Peugeot’s i-Cockpit. Standard on all 508s, this system replaces traditional analogue dials in a similar way that Audi’s Virtual Cockpit does. Its graphics are a little less premium than the German effort, but the read-outs are clear and it’s easy to use.
Five trim levels are currently on offer: Active, Allure, GT Line, GT and First Edition. All models feature an impressive standard specification including Peugeot’s i-Cockpit system, automatic headlights and wipers, electric door mirrors, a park assist system, dual-zone air con, lane keep assist, and an 8in touchscreen with MirrorLink/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The top-of-the-range GT car Howard tested gets a larger 10in touchscreen, a wireless phone charging plate, blindspot assist, stainless steel trim, ambient lighting, electrically adjustable massage seats, Peugeot’s smart beam assist, and a dual chrome exhaust.
Practicality and quality
Compared to the old 508, it really is a quantum leap ahead. Gone are hard, cheap plastics, replaced by materials and trim that give the 508 a more expensive feel than its monthly lease rates suggest. Stand out features include the piano-key style switchgear and aluminium trim pieces.
Due to that swoopy roofline, however, head room in the rear isn’t ideal if you regularly carry rear passengers. It offers 487 litres of boot space which is about average for its class, but more practical offerings are available if luggage room is a priority: the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Arteon offer more, although the Peugeot’s load bay is ever-so slightly larger than the Audi A5 Sportback’s. If you fancy a 508 but need a truly usable boot, you might want to consider the SW Estate.
Driving and engines
Behind the wheel, the Peugeot is a fun car to drive considering its size and relatively limited engine line-up. It feels much more on point than something like a Vauxhall Insignia, and is more engaging than the likes of the Arteon. It’s available with a choice of three diesel and two petrol options. Aside from the entry-level 128bhp 1.5-litre diesel, all models get an eight-speed automatic as standard, too. The 508 is a refined cruiser, with all its engines proving whisper quiet at most speeds. Some have complained that the ride is a little harsh compared to Peugeot’s usually softly-sprung ride quality.
A 2.0-litre diesel is available with either 158bhp or 178bhp, while a 1.6-litre unit makes up the petrol option. You can spec it with 178bhp or 223bhp – the latter getting from rest to 62mph in 7.9 seconds. All are good choices if economy is what you want – even the most potent petrol can muster around 50mpg, while this rises to more than 70mpg for the 1.5-litre diesel.
So should you lease one? If you’re after a stylish, stand-out saloon, then definitely. There are more practical alternatives for the same kind of monthly payment though. Peugeot’s premium aspirations also means the 508 is now priced in line with the likes of BMW’s 3 Series and Volkswagen’s Arteon. Its styling and fantastic looks might just justify that though, and if the lack of a German badge doesn’t bother you, we reckon it’s a good all-round choice.