The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 2.8
The Peugeot 508 SW has a lot going for it, with a striking exterior, loads of equipment thrown in as standard, and some very efficient diesel engines, which should attract plenty of fleet buyers. It struggles with refinement though. Ride quality on big-wheeled Allure versions is poor, and while the boot is a decent size, many of its newer rivals offer more space, or more flexibility in the back.
Reasons to buy
- Spacious interior and boot
- Generous equipment levels
- Some efficient engines
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
If you decide to choose a 508 SW, you'll be getting something a bit different from the norm. The 508 suits the estate body style well, with enough flair to stand out. That is truer for some versions than others of course, but even entry-level Active models come with 17-inch alloys, tinted glass, chrome roof rails, electric folding door mirrors, and LED running lights, most of which you'll pay extra for in the 508's rivals.
Step up to the Allure trim and you'll also get bigger wheels and a panoramic glass roof. The sportiest GT Line and GT versions have even larger alloys, full LED headlights, and twin exhausts. Peugeot used to do an RXH model, which boasted a higher ride height for light off-road capability, but this has been discontinued.
What's the interior like?
While the Peugeot 508 SW is sleek and modern on the outside, the interior is rooted in the past. On first impressions it looks tidy enough, but dig a bit deeper and the nice plush materials higher up give way to some fairly hard plastics lower down. There are small, clacky buttons littered across the centre console and steering wheel, and items like the pop-out cup holders and glove box lid feel especially flimsy.
On the plus side, a 7.0-inch touch-screen in the middle of the dash clears up some space near the gearstick, but the system itself is confusing to use and slow to respond. The driving position is also far from perfect, with a high clutch pedal, and front seats which lack proper thigh support on longer journeys. Cars like the Volkswagen Passat, Skoda Superb and Ford Mondeo surpass the big Peugeot in nearly every way when it comes to both cabin design, layout and functionality.
How practical is it?
The estate version of the 508 boosts boot size to 512 litres, which isn’t exactly small, but there are plenty of rivals that have more space, such as the Mondeo. However, there’s more than enough space for four adults inside. Cubby holes are dotted around the cabin, and there are two cupholders that emerge from the dash, although they’re very particular about what sizes of cup they will hold, which is annoying if you’ve just bought a coffee that’s the wrong size.
What's it like to drive?
This is another area where the 508 SW trails its rivals by a considerable distance. The body leans as you turn into corners, however, despite this wallowy nature the low-speed ride is also really firm. Even on the smaller 17-inch wheels you'll feel every lump and bump on patchy town roads, with the 508 jiggling about constantly, and larger imperfections will send a shivering thump through the wheel and up into the cabin.
The steering is strangely elastic, inconsistently weighted and has a tendency to self-centre, so you're never entirely sure what the front wheels are up to. The GT version of the 508 has its own sophisticated front suspension setup, and is better to drive as a result, but pricey.
How powerful is it?
The Peugeot 508 is only available with diesel engines under the bonnet, so if you don't cover many miles every year, or want something really refined, look elsewhere. However, if like most fleet buyers, you are after a diesel, you’ve got three to choose from. The pick of the bunch is the 1.6-litre with 120PS, which lacks the punch of the more powerful (and more expensive) engines, but has enough grunt to cope with most everyday tasks. If you do want more poke, the 2.0-litre, 150PS engine will provide it, although it’s not the quietest diesel engine on the market. GT models only come with a 2.0-litre, 180PS motor, which suffers from the same noisy problem. It comes with an automatic gearbox only, while other engines are only available with a manual gearbox that feels disappointingly vague.
How much will it cost me?
We’ve based our running costs evaluation on a mid-spec Allure model, sporting the 150PS 2.0-litre diesel engine, and compared it to equivalent estate models from Ford’s Mondeo range, the Skoda Superb and the Volkswagen estate. Sadly for Peugeot, the 508 makes little financial sense against any of these cars, and even less so when you consider they all are better cars. The Peugeot is not only more expensive to buy by some way, it also loses a bigger percentage of its value in depreciation and will cost the most to repair and service. Overall running costs are therefore much higher than the competition, and that makes it very difficult to recommend from a financial standpoint.
How reliable is it?
We don’t have any definitive data on reliability for the 508, but Peugeot has a reasonable reputation, sitting in the top half of the manufacturer rankings on Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index. Auto Trader Owner Reviews have been largely – although not universally – positive. If anything does go wrong, Peugeot offers a fairly standard three-year/60,000 mile warranty.
How safe is it?
The 508 was awarded the maximum five stars in a crash test by safety organisation Euro NCAP, but that was back in 2011 and standards are higher today. That means many of the 508’s rivals will have passed more stringent tests. Still, all cars have six airbags as standard, two Isofix child seat mounting points in the rear seats, and a speed limiter. Allure models and above have a blind spot detection system. However, being an older car, it doesn’t offer many of the active safety systems found in more modern cars, such as traffic sign recognition or automatic emergency braking.
How much equipment do I get?
One of the few areas in which the 508 SW brings the fight to its rivals is with its generous kit. If you‘re choosing a car for fleet or business use, this is great news, as these kind of arrangements often do not allow you to add any optional equipment at all.
Entry-level Active models come with a 7.0-inch touch-screen, DAB digital radio, sat-nav, climate control, rear parking sensors and electric lumbar support. Almost all of this stuff with cost you extra on base versions of the Ford Mondeo and VW Passat.
Allure trim adds luxury items such as a full-length glass roof, reversing camera, and heated, part leather seats. The GT Line adds full LED headlights and 18-inch alloys, while the GT trim is even more lavish, and gets a host of mechanical upgrades, a head-up display and 19-inch wheels, but offers nowhere near the same value for money as the cheaper versions.
The 508 SW is not a bad car when taken on its own merits, but it’s largely outclassed by several newer rivals, which also make better financial sense both to buy and run. That makes it very difficult to recommend.