Peugeot 508 Hatchback (2018 - ) review
Peugeot’s stylish family saloon, the 508, not only targets the likes of the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and Volkswagen Passat, but also the Audi A5, BMW 4 Series and Volkswagen Arteon.
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
The Peugeot 508 is characterised by its striking looks and an attractively styled cabin with some high-tech visuals. There are a few gripes here and there, but overall it's an accomplished car that deserves to be on your shortlist.
- Eye-catching looks
- Decent to drive
- Attractive interior design
- Interior quality not as impressive as interior design
- Manual gearbox is a bit slushy
- Poor rear visibility
Interested in buying a Peugeot 508?
How good does it look?
As saloons go, you could easily make the case for the Peugeot 508 being one of the sharpest cars out there. Except it’s technically not a saloon; the 508 is actually what’s known as a fastback, with five doors and a roof-hinged opening rear hatch, in much the same way as a Volkswagen Arteon or an Audi A5 Sportback.
There are plenty of other cool design touches, too, like the sharp, vertical daytime running lights at the front and the glossy black strip that runs between the tail lights. Open the four main passenger doors, and you’ll find they’re all frameless, like a coupe’s. The car is particularly striking in GT-Line and GT guises, where the radiator grille gets a chequered-chrome pattern and the bodywork is subtly bolstered with some additional lower detailing, while the wheels increase to at least 18 inches (19s on the GT) in diameter.
What's the interior like?
Peugeot's latest cars all have a high-tech looking interior known as iCockpit, which is a 12.3-inch, fully configurable digital instrument cluster and a touchscreen in the dashboard. On the base-level Active models you get an 8.0-inch touchscreen, but step one grade up, to Allure, and you get a 10.0-inch HD touchscreen instead. Not only does all the tech look really stylish and futuristic, it all works intuitively thanks to ‘piano key’ shortcut buttons below the touchscreen. However, the pictures on the buttons are quite hard to see from the driver's seat, so you'll need to learn which one is which.
Although the interior design looks fab, the build quality is slightly less impressive. Everything is neat and soft to the touch, including the plastics on the doors, but the materials don't feel quite as solidly built as those in rivals such as the VW Arteon or A5 Sportback. More than one car we tested had a few small squeaks and rattles in the car.
The ‘crooked’ shift lever for the automatic gearbox isn’t the nicest thing to operate, either, and the stalk for the 508’s cruise control is completely obscured by the steering wheel, so you'll also need to learn what the buttons do.
The 508 comes with a small steering wheel, which is really nice to use, although taller drivers might have to choose between having the wheel at your preferred height, or being able to see the screen properly. There is lots of adjustment in the seats and steering wheel though. It's really easy to get a comfortable driving position, and the seats themselves are very comfortable and supportive.
How practical is it?
There are a few issues here, mainly revolving around the Peugeot’s rakish exterior design. To have that fastback rear end requires a sloping roofline and a long, shallow rear window, which both combine to create limited headroom for taller back-seat passengers. It also results in very poor rear visibility with large blind spots at the rear quarters of the car, and the combination of the upper curve of the rear screen and the placement of the rear-seat headrests also mean there’s only a narrow arch of vision in the rear-view mirror.
Other than that, legroom is good in the back and the space up front is excellent, while there are plenty of cubby holes, two good-sized door bins, a pair of cupholders in the centre console (and two more in the rear on all models from Allure upwards) and a hidden storage tray underneath the gear lever, which accommodates a wireless smartphone charging pad (standard on GT-Line and above). Peugeot’s decision to go with a five-door configuration results in a 487-litre boot in standard format, rising to 1,537 litres with the rear seats folded down, which is some way short of the boot found in the Arteon, but on a par with the A5 Sportback and much bigger than the Kia Stinger.
What's it like to drive?
The 508 is set up for comfort rather than sportiness, and it rides well, smoothing out bumpy roads to keep things serene inside. This is helped by impressively low road and wind noise. Although the car has a few sporty touches, including a Sport mode that stiffens up the active suspension on cars equipped with it, it’s not really a vehicle that encourages you to drive in a spirited fashion. Should you do so anyway, you’ll find that it will stay well behaved, although the steering feels a bit too light and artificial. Keep things fairly sedate and you’ll cruise along very nicely.
How powerful is it?
Buyers have lots of choice over the engine that powers their 508. The diesels will likely be most popular, and there’s a 1.5-litre BlueHDi with 130 horsepower, while a larger 2.0-litre BlueHDi delivers either 160 or 180 horsepower. On the petrol side of the line-up, a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine puts out either 180 or 225 horsepower. All engines come with an automatic gearbox, except the 1.5 diesel, which has a six-speed manual as standard (although you can add the auto’ as an optional extra). We'd recommend the auto, as the manual gearstick feels a bit loose and imprecise in the hand.
All the engines feel decently punchy, helped in no small part by the fact that the 508 is a reasonably light car, so whichever you choose, you won’t be left wanting for pace. Our only minor complaint is with the 1.6-litre petrol engine, which doesn’t sound very nice; you hear a lot of turbo whistle, and there’s a gruff note when you work it harder.
How much will it cost me?
Version-for-version, the 508 costs quite a bit more than rivals like the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia. In fact, it’s more comparable to the swanky Volkswagen Passat on price. Resale values should be pretty solid, though, and fuel economy figures from the range of efficient turbocharged engines are right up there with the best-in-class. For example, the cleanest version returns an official fuel economy figure of more than 75mpg. That means CO2 emissions will also be impressively low, and that’s good news for the company car drivers with which cars like this prove popular, because it means comparatively cheap tax bills. That said, the insurance groupings of some versions look very high when compared with competitors, so make sure you check your premiums before you buy.
It's worth noting, in passing, that sales of this type of car have been in decline of late, thanks in large part to the rise in popularity of SUVs. This could conceivably have an impact on the 508's resale value a few years down the line.
How reliable is it?
The 508 uses much of the tried-and-tested hardware and technology used in the 308, 3008 and 5008 ranges, none of which have yet thrown up any notable, widespread reliability issues, according to our owner reviews. These models don’t fare quite so well in the Warranty Direct Reliability Index, but the cars under consideration in this study are the previous generation versions, which are very different mechanically to the latest cars. What’s more, Peugeot does rather better in the manufacturer standings of the study, sitting comfortably in the top half of the table.
What's more, JD Power's 2019 Vehicle Dependability Study puts Peugeot top in its ranking of the major manufacturers, a rise up from eighth the previous year. So we’re hopeful the 508 will prove to be a dependable machine, and it’s also covered by Peugeot’s standard (and extendable) three-year/60,000-mile warranty.
How safe is it?
The latest 508 scored the maximum five stars during crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP. It benefits from plenty of kit, with all cars featuring an active bonnet, six airbags, a Driver Attention Alert system, stability control, three Isofix child-seat fittings (front passenger and outer two rear seats), a tyre-pressure monitoring system, cruise control with a speed limiter, and speed limit recognition with recommendation.
All versions also come with a Safety Pack, which includes Advanced Automatic Emergency Braking, Distance Alert and Active Lane Keeping Assist.
Allure models get a more comprehensive driver alert set-up, adaptive front lights, full traffic sign recognition and Active Blind Spot Detection.
GT-Line models have self-levelling LED headlights as standard, while GT cars gain adaptive cruise control and steering support.
How much equipment do I get?
Entry-point Active models are fitted with dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, DAB, 3D navigation, voice recognition, automatic lights and wipers, MirrorScreen connectivity (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Allure trim brings, among other things, parking sensors all round, a 180-degree camera, keyless entry and go and ambient lighting.
GT-Line gets some of the sporty looks of the GT models (albeit with less powerful engines), with quite big changes to the exterior and interior appearance, and adding 18-inch alloys and a smartphone charging plate.
The GT model gains adaptive suspension, full leather upholstery, a Focal premium sound system, a smart electric tailgate and 19-inch wheels.
The Peugeot 508 is a very good execution of a five-door fastback masquerading as something sportier, with arresting styling, a well-equipped, stylish interior and impressive driving manners. If you want something a bit different, you'll find the 508 to be a very satisfying car.