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Peugeot 508: Test Drive Report

Date: 31 January 2011   |   Author: Tristan Young

Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £21,900
Key rival: Ford Mondeo

If you're not a prestige brand, launching a new model in the large family car market is tough.

The sector is down more than a third in the past five years as buyers defect to MPVs, 4x4s and other 'non-standard' vehicles. However, Peugeot thinks it has found a route to success with its new 508, which takes the place of the 407. And that route is to make sure buyers can't find anything that will make them pick a rival's car.

On paper the 508 is a tax winner. Almost all of the range is below the near ubiquitous 160g/km CO2 limit fleets have placed on choice lists. And to really attract business buyers' attention there's an ultra-low CO2 model at 109g/km to kick off the range. This 1.6-litre diesel with stop/start at 112hp is powerful enough to cope with regular driving even if it couldn't ever be described as fast. However, it can be described as frugal with a 64.2mpg average. It's also expected to be the equal best seller alongside the 140hp 2.0 HDI, which comes in with a CO2 of 125g/km and an official fuel figure of 58.9mpg.

There's plenty of room in both the saloon and estate, both in the boot as well as for rear passengers. Indeed, in the SW boot space at 560 litres is up there with the class leaders.

Staying on the inside of the 508, the interior quality is one of the car's most impressive attributes, both in terms of the materials used and the fit and finish, and would be right at home in an Audi or BMW.

No matter what trim level or engine the driving experience is also impressive, and there are far higher comfort levels in the 508 than in the 'sporty' riding German cars in this sector. Peugeot has cleverly managed to offer this comfort with great body control and good steering feedback. The result is that when you do want to go a bit faster on a twisty road the car rewards and encourages the driver.

So there are no weaknesses to the new 508? Not quite.

The capital allowance-beating 109g/km 1.6 eHDI car is only at this CO2 thanks to an automated manual EGC gearbox that is an acquired taste. Paddles behind the steering wheel make it generally usable as a manual, but it still suffers from the over-ride - which introduces a hesitancy if you need to 'nip' into a space in traffic - of an automatic. In other words, you can be in manual mode, but if you need to get into space (say at a roundabout) by flooring the throttle, the automated part takes over and will kick-down. This is not what you want as it means the gear box hesitates (0.4 seconds for a gearchange) rather than just delivering power in the gear you're already in.

There is also an 'auto' mode on the gearbox but it feels extremely sluggish and nowhere near as good as a traditional auto.

However, if you're not one for an EGC gearbox there's either the 140hp 2.0 HDI or a manual version of the 1.6 HDI, but with a slight efficiency penalty over the EGC car.

The Peugeot 508 is proof that, other than the badge, there really is no sensible excuse to go German in this sector, given this car's price, quality, comfort, space, equipment and looks.

Peugeot 508 1.6 eHDI 112hp SR 4dr automatic
P11D price£21,900
Model price range£18,150-£28,750
Fuel consumption64.2mpg
CO2 (tax) 109g/km (13%)
BIK 20/40% per month£47/£94
Service interval12,500mls
Insurancegroup 20*
Boot space (min/max)515/1381 litres
Engine size/power1560cc/112hp
Top speed/0-62mph122mph/11.9secs
On sale April 2011
VerdictBrilliant on paper and great
to drive. But can Peugeot
badge take sales from
BMW or Audi?


Brilliant on paper and great to drive. But can Peugeot badge take sales from BMW or Audi?