► CAR's Peugeot 508 review
► Saloon driven in GT spec
► Priced at £33k. Would you?
You had forgotten that Peugeot sold this, hadn’t you? Seeing a Peugeot 508 saloon on the road in the UK is about as rare as finding a unicorn wearing dentures made of hen’s teeth.
The 508 remains a rare sight on UK roads, despite having quite a following in its home country. Yet the 508 soldiers on flying the flag for big French saloons in the UK, since Renault rejected its handsome Talisman for British sale and Citroen finally killed off the kooky C5.
Saloon sales are feeling the pinch already with the never-ending onslaught of SUVs stealing buyers’ attention. Even so, with great cars out there like the BMW 5-series (from £36k) and Skoda Superb (from £20k) out there at similar-ish prices, can the 508 forge a Gallic path for itself?
Read on for our test of the Peugeot 508 GT: the top-spec version priced at £32,915.
Long, wide and French… I think I know how this thing will drive
Like a superyacht caught in a choppy sea, right? Pretty much. The steering is so incredibly artificial that you barely know where the wheels are pointed. You regularly feel the assistance motor adding more or less resistance, and it manages to be annoyingly heavy when you’re trying to park and a little too light (and therefore twitchy) at motorway speeds.
The suspension is designed to be soft and pliant, but the huge 19-inch alloys on the GT model upset the ride to such a degree that it cancels that softness out. The loud thuds, bumps through your seat and sudden twists of the steering wheel while at speed can be a little disconcerting when you’re on the move. The ride settles a little more on the motorway, but it’s not as smooth as a big French saloon should be.
Peugeot 508 cars for sale
Point the indirect steering and soft-yet-irritable suspension at a sweeping corner and significant body roll presents itself almost immediately. It’s not a car you want to heave around a country road; you’ll be holding on to the steering wheel for dear life.
What engine do you get in the Peugeot 508 GT?
In top-shelf GT spec, the only choice offered is a 181bhp 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel with front-wheel drive and PSA’s EAT6 six-speed automatic transmission.
The BlueHDi unit pulls well thanks to a hefty 295lb ft of torque and 0-62mph is dealt with in a reasonable 8.5 seconds. Top speed is 143mph – ample enough for if you need to get your French diplomat passengers to their important government meeting in a hurry.
Engine noise is barely noticeable from behind the wheel and it barely gets any louder if you press on. Tyre noise is kept to a reasonable level, too, despite the massive alloys.
The biggest fly in the powertrain ointment, though, is the EAT6 gearbox. It’s very slow to respond and the cog-swapping can be annoyingly jerky or smooth. In stop/start traffic, the gearbox struggles to keep the car pulling away and stopping without a massive jerk forward or backward, kicking you in the process.
There’s a manual mode if you feel like pressing the cheap and tacky wheel-mounted paddles, plus Sport and All-Weather gear modes, depending on your driving situation.
Is the 508's interior très chic?
If by chic you mean ergonomic mess, then yes. The steering wheel feels huge, the dashboard layout is a button-fest and the infotainment screen is a significant stretch away, meaning you can’t really operate it safely at the wheel. Modern Peugeots with their iCockpit are so much better than this.
The centre console is high up and continues the trend for cramming as many buttons as humanly possible. There’s a very small cubby in front of the gearlever (presumably an ashtray) next to a 12v socket with a cigarette lighter, and the dinky square storage space is conveniently big enough for a pack of 20 Marlboro; it’s all stereotypically French.
Since the 508 is almost entirely geared towards the left-hand drive market, you might end up alerting the emergency services if you accidentally bang your wrist on the SOS button on the driver’s side of the centre console, while the glovebox is about half the size it should be due to the fuse box invading the space. Cupholders are also relegated to flimsy pop-out mechanisms just underneath the infotainment screen.
Thick padded seats offer a lot of comfort, but we’d avoid adding the optional massage function to the driver’s seat. Instead of what should feel like a pair of hands gently knurling your back muscles, all it feels like is the electronic lumbar support lazily pushing you around, making you feel a bit seasick...
How many government officials/mafia types can it fit?
Well if they want to remain dignified, it’ll be you and three others. There is space for five inside the 508, but the rear centre seat is a bit of a squeeze. If those in the front need their seat far back, rear legroom becomes tight – something you won’t get in a Skoda Superb.
Boot space is rated at 545 litres with the rear seats in place. That’s about 60 fewer litres than a Skoda Superb, five litres fewer than a Ford Mondeo but 15 litres more than a BMW 5-series. That is, of course, if you can open the tailgate in the first place. Here’s a handy tip: the boot release is a button housed in the zero of the 508 badge.
The 508 will continue to remain a very niche choice in the saloon market. It will appeal to those who want an imposing saloon for not a lot of cash but with a knobbly ride, irritating ergonomics and less rear space than some of its rivals, the 508 GT is hard to justify.
We’re happy to see that Peugeot is still sticking to its guns and selling it in the UK, but it doesn’t make for the most appealing saloon choice out there.
Read more Peugeot reviews by CAR magazine