Peugeot 508


Debut: 2011
Maker: Peugeot
Predecessor: 407



 Published on 2 Feb 2011
All rights reserved. 


I am lucky to be old enough to remember the glorious days of French large cars. However, those days have long gone. No matter how hard Vel Satis, 607 and C6 tried, demand for French large cars simply dried up. Blame the German domination, the Japanese invasion and the change of market trend. Worse still, this trend is spreading towards the class below. Peugeot used to be very successful with its mid-size line of 405 and 406. Not so the 407. Just three years into the market, it sales slid to 130,000 units. By 2009, it fell further to a miserable 40,000 units. The message is clear: it needs to be changed.

The new 508 is the logical result of the above development. It takes up the vacancies left by both 407 and 607, so hopefully it will have more space for survival. Naturally, the 508 is sized between 407 and 607, but made with much better quality to make it possible to serve as a junior executive car. Compare with 407, it is 12 cm longer, 4 cm wider, 1 cm taller and runs a 9 cm longer wheelbase. This enables as much as 53 mm more rear seat legroom than its predecessor, answering our biggest criticism on the 407. Compare with 607, the 508 is 8 cm shorter, but slightly wider and marginally longer in wheelbase. As a result, its cabin serves four six-footers comfortably.



The 508 is built on the same platform as sister car Citroen C5. Compare with the outgoing 407, it is easily more aerodynamic. On the cars fitted with skinniest tires, drag coefficient has been reduced from the previous 0.29 to a class-leading 0.25. Another notable improvement is weight control – an area we used to criticize the 407. Engine by engine, the new car is an average 35 kg lighter than 407, according to Peugeot. And this is not just claims. Read our old 407 report from the link at the top of this page, you will see the 508 is really lighter in most cases. Considering the new car is so much bigger and better built, this is an admirable achievement.

To fulfill the job as a junior executive car, the 508 has to up its game in NVH suppression. And it did. Peugeot fitted it with noise-absorbing acoustic windscreen, hydro-elastic suspension mounts and, in the case of most powerful 2.2HDi model, active engine mounts. This explain why the car delivers superb refinement on the road, as we shall see.

Regarding driving dynamics, I am pleased to see it keeps the 407's electro-hydraulic power steering, even though switching to a pure electrical rack would have saved more money and boosted fuel economy by a couple of percentage. No wonder the 508 delivers excellent steering feel. Finally someone puts driving fun on top priority !



Less so is the front suspensions. The 407 used to be renowned for superior cornering grip and neutral handling thanks to its sophisticated drop link double-wishbones front suspensions. They offer the best of double-wishbones suspensions and, with the drop link, capable of decoupling the steering from vertical forces, thus delivering a pure and accurate steering unaffected by cornering load and bumps. The 508 keeps these magical suspensions, but only on the sportiest model, GT with 2.2 HDi engine. The rest of the range employs a simpler MacPherson struts setup, which saves 12 kg and a great deal of money. Peugeot argued that on less powerful models the sophisticated suspension is not that necessary. To some extent it might be correct. Those MacPherson struts suspensions on Ford Mondeo seems nothing wrong, and on the Peugeot 508 with up to 163 hp and high-profile tires, you are unlikely to push the car too hard in corners. Should you really do that, you will see its front end marginally less precise to place on the road than the GT, the front end grip washes out more quickly and understeer intervenes earlier. Its handling is predictable though.

For keen drivers, however, GT is a must. It strikes the perfect balance between comfort and excitement. It displays good chassis balance, grip and body control. The ride is slightly firm on the GT, but not to the extent of uncomfortable. Moreover, the solid structure and well insulated cabin keep harshness and noise away from the occupants. The 2.2 HDi turbo diesel engine on the GT is also superb. Thanks to a titanium turbine and piezo injectors, it feels very strong and responsive. Maximum output is 204 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, allowing it to replace the old 2.7 HDi V6, saving you a lot of money. It is also a lot greener, with 150 g/km of CO2 emission, compared with 223 g/km on the old 407 2.7HDi.



Other engines include 112hp 1.6HDi, 112hp 1.6 e-HDi (with automatic engine stop-start), 140 or 163hp 2.0HDi and the only petrol engine in the range, 156hp 1.6THP direct injection turbo. If you cannot afford the 2.2HDi, the 1.6THP won't be a bad choice, because it is smooth, quiet, eager and usefully torquey. 0-60 mph sprint of 8.1 seconds is only 0.4 sec down on the flagship diesel. A little sad though, no 508s can be described as fast. These days PSA no longer produces powerful six-cylinder gasoline engines. The 3.0 turbo diesel V6 on Citroen C5 might join the range in the future, but even so it won't be fast enough to rival BMW 330i / 330d. Peugeot seems content to occupy the bottom-end of junior executive car segment.

Most 508 are equipped with 6-speed automatic gearbox, whose gearshifts are smooth and reasonably responsive. A twin-clutch gearbox would be faster, but unlikely to deliver the same refinement.

Inside, the 508 washes away our unfavourable memory of 407 with a high-quality interior. While the overall design is quite conventional, it is handsome and tastefully decorated. Soft-touch plastics, lacquer surfaces, solid controls and their smooth operation give it an upmarket feel. Good enough to shame BMW 3-Series, actually (though I have no doubt that the next 3er will strike back). Equipment includes classy items such as head-up display, 4-zone climate control and heated massage seats. The amount of space is competitive, if not as generous as Ford Mondeo. It can accommodate four six-footers comfortably, while a fifth passenger won't be difficult to slip into the middle rear seat, thanks to a nearly flat floor. The 515-liter boot is also generous.



Unlike the interior, I am not so sure about the exterior design. Peugeot new design boss Gilles Vidal promised an adventurous styling theme on the SR1 concept coupe shown a year ago. However, the production 508 looks less convincing. Its proportion is somewhat wrong – doesn't its bonnet look too high ? and the ground clearance under its front overhang look as large as those on SUVs ? Many other designers found ways to overcome the negative effect of pedestrian safety law by means of visual tricks. Unfortunately, Peugeot just failed to do that on the 508. Not just this, I have problems to appreciate its new corporate grille, whose black plastic elements do not gel with the chrome elements. The "PEUGEOT" wording at the nose and the pronounced section of the bonnet cut away a piece of the chrome surround. The effect is quite busy and strange. Zoom out, the whole car looks remarkably close to some recent Nissan / Infiniti designs. Should you mask its front grille, I suppose many people would fail to recognize it.

However, styling aside, the new Peugeot has few things to complain. It is well built, comfortable and refined to spend your time in. Depending on front suspensions, you will get either decent or great handling, and on all versions a communicative steering is guaranteed. With the introduction of 508, the border between mainstream and premium brand executive cars has never been so mushy.
Verdict: 
 Published on 20 Jan 2015
All rights reserved. 
508 facelift (2014)


The prosperity of premium-brand saloons is a bad news to mainstream-brand ones. Even though Peugeot has already consolidated its 607 and 407 into a single 508, its sales keep declining. There is no way PSA can resist the trend. Although big French saloons carried a long history and the love of many fans, a smart businessman like Carlos Tavares, PSA’s new CEO, would not hesitate to cut the line and concentrate resources on the more profitable hatchbacks and crossovers. If he has spare money to play with large cars again, he would rather invest into the premium DS brand. This means, the bloodline of Peugeot big cars is unlikely to live beyond 508.

However, before that happens, the 508 is updated once more. Launched in mid-2014, this mid-life facelift should carry 508 through its destiny. It has the nose heavily restyled – now more upright and squarer. The front grille gets slimmer and more angular. The bonnet gets flatter, and the lion logo is moved to the center of front grille. The new nose appears to be more upmarket, especially with LED daytime running lights and LED headlamps (the latter is standard on top models). It is definitely smarter than the old design. Unfortunately, the fat proportion of the old car is unaltered.

For a non-premium saloon, the 508 is still renowned for quality finishing. Its cabin is generally made of high-quality materials and is tightly screwed together. The interior still looks up-to-date, if not as advanced as 308. Moreover, this cabin is spacious, allowing 3 adults to sit comfortably at the back.



The range-topping GT model with 2.2 HDi engine is still our pick of the range, thanks to the better handling and ride achieved by its double-wishbone front suspension. Unfortunately, it is as expensive as some BMW 3-Series and Audi A4s, so by far the majority of sales goes to lesser models fitted with MacPherson struts up front. The latter are nowhere as good to drive, showing average roadholding, precision, ride comfort and refinement. They fail to match Ford Mondeo or new Volkswagen Passat in just about any dynamic aspects.

Most of the popular engines have been improved in this facelift. The 1.6 THP direct injection turbo is benefited with an extra 9 hp, bringing the total to 165 hp. Through optimized gearing, ECU and addition of automatic stop-start, its rated emission is reduced by 10 percent. Similarly, diesel engines get more power yet lower consumption. The 140 hp 2.0 HDi is improved to 150 hp, while 163 hp version is upgraded to 180 hp. The numbers are competitive, but none of them can match the equivalent motors of BMW and Audi in terms of low-end response and high-end refinement. The big Peugeot is left to an embarrassing position: while its styling and build quality target at premium D-segment cars, it is not as well-engineered as those rivals. Neither is it cheap enough to lure buyers from a class below. The facelift did little to change this situation.

Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
508 1.6THP
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4792 / 1853 / 1456 mm
2817 mm
Inline-4
1598 cc
DOHC 16 valves, VVT
Turbo
DI
156 hp
177 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
215/55R17
1400 kg
138 mph (c)
8.1 (c)
-
508 2.0HDi
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4792 / 1853 / 1456 mm
2817 mm
Inline-4, diesel
1997 cc
DOHC 16 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
163 hp
251 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
215/55R17
1520 kg
140 mph (c)
8.7 (c)
-
508 GT 2.2HDi
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4792 / 1853 / 1456 mm
2817 mm
Inline-4, diesel
2179 cc
DOHC 16 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
204 hp
332 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
-
235/45R18
1540 kg
145 mph (c)
7.7 (c)
-




Performance tested by: -





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
508 1.6THP
2014
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4830 / 1828 / 1456 mm
2817 mm
Inline-4
1598 cc
DOHC 16 valves, VVT
Turbo
DI
165 hp
177 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
215/55R17
1400 kg
130 mph (c)
8.1 (c)
-
508 2.0HDi 180
2014
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4830 / 1828 / 1456 mm
2817 mm
Inline-4, diesel
1997 cc
DOHC 16 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
180 hp
295 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
235/45R18
1540 kg
140 mph (c)
8.0 (c)
-



























Performance tested by: -





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