The Peugeot 508 has always been a bit of a left-field choice for company car drivers, let alone private buyers. It's understandable, what with more accomplished rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Octavia vying for attention.
So in an effort to kickstart more sales, Peugeot has given the 508 a face-lift. Key changes include the addition of two new Euro 6 diesel engines: a 2.0-litre BlueHDi unit with 148bhp and 109g/km CO2, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, and a 178bhp version with 119g/km CO2 that's paired with a six-speed auto 'box. The latter will be available only in the RXH - a high-riding, rugged-looking version of the 508 SW estate - where it will be offered alongside the existing diesel-electric hybrid engine.
Other revisions include modified suspension to deliver an impressive combination of good ride comfort and road holding' according to Peugeot, in response to criticism of the 508's dynamic behaviour. Outside, there's a new front grille, which will gradually appear on all future Peugeots, plus LED daytime running lights and indicators. LED headlights and foglights are fitted on Allure and GT trims, while the saloon's rear lights and bumper have been redesigned.
Inside, all trim levels get a standard seven-inch touch-screen, while a head-up display that projects basic information onto the windscreen in front of the driver will also be available as an option.
What’s the 2014 Peugeot 508 like to drive?
The new 2.0-litre BlueHDi 150 makes for an attractive proposition on paper, with a healthy 273lb ft of shove being developed from 2000rpm. Indeed, in the saloon we tried, it pulls strongly from a standstill all the way to the red line, with no sudden surges in power. It's a relatively refined engine, although some vibrations can be felt through the gearlever, engine noise doesn't become troublesome until well past 3500rpm, so it's just as well you can make brisk progress from 2000rpm onwards.
The 2.2-litre engine is less of a success, because it's not that much quicker than the smaller engine and it's more expensive to run. The automatic gearbox also likes to take its time before deciding which gear to choose, although you can take control yourself using the paddles behind the wheel.
The 2.2 is reasonably quiet though, at least when cruising. Road noise in all 508s is also generally hushed, and while there's a hint of wind noise from the door mirrors at motorway speeds, it's never intrusive.
The gearchange is typical for Peugeot: rather imprecise and with a fairly long-throw shift, compared with the slicker actions of its rivals'. This is a shame because, despite its size, the 508 doesn't feel out of sorts when chucked in to a corner at speed; body movements are kept under control and there was plenty of grip on the roads we tested it on. The steering lets things down, though, because it feels vague in the dead-ahead position, and is inconsistently weighted when cornering.
On standard 18-inch wheels the ride quality is better than before; minor road scars are soaked up well. However, expansion joints and potholes still thump their way into the cabin around town, and while the ride improves at speed, there is a tendency for the body to 'float' over motorway undulations, where rivals keep things far more tied-down.
What’s the 2014 Peugeot 508 like inside?
Every 508 now gets a 7.0-inch touch-screen as standard. It's a welcome addition, and the screen is clear and responsive to use. It's good to see that you don't have to delve into the menus to fiddle with the ventilation settings, as you have to do with the Peugeot 308. This inevitably means that the dashboard is a little cluttered with control buttons, but it's a reasonable compromise.
Other goodies now fitted as standard across the range include a DAB radio, Bluetooth, sat-nav, dual-zone climate control and electric mirrors, which makes the big Peugeot pretty good value.
The top half of the dashboard is covered in high-quality soft-touch plastics, although you don't have to look too far down to find harder, scratchy materials. Even the aforementioned buttons feel cheap, although the general feel of the build quality is good.
Our test cars came with leather-covered, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, which are standard on Allure and GT trims. They're comfortable, supportive and - together with a reach- and height-adjustable steering wheel - make it easy to find a natural driving position. Forward visibility is good, although the thick rear pillars hamper the view when reversing, so it's good that rear sensors are standard.
Space-wise, despite the new car being 38mm longer than before, it's as you were, which means there's plenty of room for four tall adults and their luggage. Headroom is generous, and although rear legroom can't compete with that of the Mondeo or the VW Passat, nobody should complain. Even a third rear passenger should be happy on shorter journeys, thanks to a nearly flat floor.
Should I buy one?
Peugeot has done away with the Access trim level, which means the range now kicks off with Active trim. That brings more kit but also ups the 508's starting price from £19,105 to £22,045.
However, this 2.0-litre diesel engine is available in only Allure or GT trim, so it costs at least £26,395, which makes it considerably more expensive than the equivalent Mondeo, Octavia and even the Passat. Factor in the 508's so-so resale values and it will prove a costly private buy.
At least the 2.0 BlueHDi engine's low CO2 emissions make the 508 a more attractive proposition for company car drivers, especially considering the level of standard kit on offer and the impressive official economy figure of 67.3mpg. Still, the Peugeot's key rivals are still better to drive and their hatchback bodies offer better practicality compared with the 508's compromised saloon boot opening.
So although Peugeot's updates are welcome, there are still better family cars out there.
What Car? says...
Peugeot 508 2.0 BlueHDi
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £26,395
Torque 273lb ft
0-62mph 9.8 seconds
Top speed 130mph
Fuel economy 67.3mpg