Peugeot 508 rear

Peugeot 508 review

Performance & drive

Review continues below...

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

There’s a choice of two petrol and three diesel engines, with a manual or optional automatic gearbox on the entry level 1.5-litre diesel, and an automatic standard on the others.

A plug-in hybrid version of the 508, which combines a petrol engine with an electric motor, will be added to the line-up in autumn 2019. It should offer an electric-only range of around 30 miles, putting it in direct competition with Volkswagen's impressive Passat GTE.

Back to the present day, though, the 1.5-litre diesel 508 only produces 128bhp, and as such, feels underpowered to the point where you'll find overtaking or joining a motorway more stressful than it should be. We have yet to try the 161bhp version of the 2.0 BlueHDi diesel engine, but the 174bhp unit has plenty of oomph.

For those who favour petrol power, the 179bhp 1.6 Puretech is smooth, responsive and a more spirited performer than the diesels. The caveat here is that it doesn't pull quite so well from low revs, so you have to work it harder.

The more powerful 221bhp 1.6-litre petrol brings a noticeable amount of extra guts and is the quickest option in the line-up. It's more expensive to buy and run than the lower-powered petrol, though, which is, on balance, the pick of the range.

Adaptive suspension is optional for most models and standard on range toppers, and is linked to four driving modes: Eco, Sport, Comfort and Normal. Comfort and Normal tend to introduce a floating sensation over the crest of bumps at speed while Sport increases the steering weight and stiffens the dampers, but the differences are small. Regardless of setting, the 508 fidgets over road imperfections at all speeds; the Skoda Superb is far more forgiving of poor road surfaces. Unsurprisingly, cars without the adaptive suspension also fidget and are set a little on the firm side.

The upside of the 508's firm set-up is that it resists body lean well in corners, in addition to gripping the road like a limpet. But it can’t match the steering precision of a BMW 3 SeriesFord Mondeo or Mazda 6, so you end up sawing at the wheel quite a bit. 

The automatic gearbox can be hesitant around town (not helped by an overly intrusive start/stop system) but is otherwise impressively smooth and responsive in its operation. By contrast, the six-speed manual that's standard with the 1.5-litre diesel is disappointing, with a long, notchy action between gears.

Peugeot 508 rear
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