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Peugeot's handsome mid-sized saloon and wagon get a new face and improved interior

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Peugeot’s freshly chiselled, extra-stylish, premium-feeling assault on the bottom end of the European executive car market - manifested as it is by the current Peugeot 508 - has now been romping on since 2018.

In its best years, it made the 508 one of Europe’s top ten best-selling junior executive saloons, competing - at least a little bit - with the mighty BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4 and more. 

Crucially, it’s still romping. While rivals like the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia, Toyota Avensis, Renault Laguna and more have long since given up the good fight that mainstream brands have been variously holding up, for decades, against the advancing BMW, Mercedes, Volvo - and now Tesla - Peugeot’s commitment to present itself as a credible rival to the established premium marques continues. 

It’s doing that through a lineup of ‘fastback’ saloon and ‘SW’ estate models that’s been consolidated and simplified for the car’s mid-life facelift, and that now majors on fleet-market-intended plug-in hybrid powertrains.

The car’s former more powerful ICE petrol and diesel engines have been taken off the UK price list, leaving only the big-selling Plug-in Hybrid 225, the 1.2-litre turbo Puretech petrol, and the range-topping 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered Plug-in Hybrid4 360 to choose between. 

Below that 508 PSE performance hybrid, the car now comes in just Allure and GT trim levels, and has a slimmed down range of options.



2 peugeot 508 rear driving

When the covers came off the 508 at the Geneva motor show in 2018, the conservative design of its 2010-2018 Peugeot 508 predecessor was almost blown out of memory entirely. Peugeot stirred a welcome dose of eye-catching, curvaceous style into the 508’s recipe; and having always offered three-box saloons with conventional boots, it also acknowledged modern preferences in another way by switching to a hatchback bodystyle in addition to a more conventional estate.

The car blooded a new corporate face for its maker: one with long, curving, vertical LED lighting bars framing the headlights, which made its cars very recognisable - albeit for looking slightly like Sesame Street’s Count von Count. But now, the fangs have been taken off - or, perhaps, greatly toned down - the facelifted 508 getting a wider, more technical-looking patterned radiator grille based on that of the firm’s 9X8 endurance racer.

At the rear, a new glossy model plate, with a spelled-out ‘Peugeot’ monogram, replaces the car’s old boxing lion badge. Elsewhere, though, the car is mostly as it was. There are frameless doors, fatter-looking chrome exhaust tips, and wheels that properly fill their arches; and the silhouette is that of a “two-and-a-half-box fastback” which will be appreciated by those who like the look of Audi’s Audi A5 Sportback – and not simply because of the complex rear three-quarter panels that necessitated stamping methods generally the preserve of sports cars.

The last Peugeot saloon to have a model badge on its bonnet? The 504, which went out of production in 1983; though it was a habit running a long way further back than that.

Despite its D-segment sensibilities, the 508 is conveniently sized, being some 80mm shorter and 51mm lower than its predecessor, and much smaller in footprint than key rivals. The payoff is a tighter turning circle than that of some family hatches, despite the athletic proportions.

The new car is built on Stellantis’ EMP2 platform. You’ll find the same underneath the Peugeot 3008 and 5008, Citroën’s C5 Aircross, the DS 7 and DS 9, and the Vauxhall Grandland.

3 Peugeot 508 profile static 0

After a cull of a number of its engines, it now offers only plug-in hybrid and conventional petrol power. The 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged Puretech petrol option develops 129bhp and 170lb ft of torque, and is available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive.

Move up to the Plug-in Hybrid 225, meantime, and you’ll get a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, mounted transversely, making 178bhp and 184lb ft on its own; but which is augmented by a 109bhp electric motor, integrated between engine and gearbox, to provide a nominal total of 222bhp through the front wheels, and an unspecified maximum torque owing to the two peaks not arriving at the same time.

On Peugeot’s SUVs, and the fast Peugeot Sport Engineered variant, there’s an extra electric motor at the back providing four-wheel drive and more vigorous acceleration than is on offer here.

This car, though, is meant to provide a better all-electric range. It was introduced with some 31 miles of it, thanks to an 11.8kWh battery mounted rearward under the floor; but that battery capacity was extended to 12.4kWh in total in 2022, which is where it now sits. And so, combined with a few other efficiency tweaks, the 508 Plug-in Hybrid 225 can now exceed 40 miles of WLTP Combined Equivalent All-Electric Range - though only if you stick to a fastback body style, Allure trim level - and keep your options order modest.

In chassis terms, there are no surprises here. The front axle is suspended by MacPherson struts while the rear uses a multi-link design. Adaptive dampers with modes ranging from Eco to Sport used to be standard-issue on top-of-the-line GT models, but are now reserved for a Dynamics Pack which comes in tandem with 19in alloy wheels


6 peugeot 508 interior

Here’s where, a decade or more ago, mainstream car makers had most to do against established ‘premium’ rivals and it’s where it’s obvious, today, that they’ve succeeded. Fit and finish inside the Peugeot 508 are, broadly speaking, quite impressive.

The plastics look marginally better than they feel but, if you removed all the branding, we doubt you’d be able to tell whether the cabin was from a ‘premium’ brand or an aspiring volume one – at first glance, anyway. Assuming, that is, Peugeot’s i-Cockpit layout, which it’s wedded to, didn’t give it away.

The thinking behind this is as it ever was. There’s a small steering wheel – quite squared off – with a heavily assisted rack, and the idea is that you peer over the wheel, rather than through it, at the dials. And those dials, in this case, are new-generation digital ones with crisper display resolution, and slightly clearer and less contrived display modes, than in the pre-facelift car.

I’ve never particularly liked the i-Cockpit control philosophy, but it bothers me much less here than it has elsewhere. Perhaps it’s because the car’s profile is lower than in a hatchback or SUV; or perhaps Peugeot has got better at tuning the car to accommodate it


Peugeot’s latest-generation, 10in infotainment system in the 508 is derived from the one in the latest 308 hatchback. Rather than the hatchback’s clever customisable ‘e-toggle’ menu shortcut controls, though, it retains the ‘piano key’ physical shortcuts with which the car first appeared.

9 Peugeot 508 infotainment 0

Heating and ventilation remains controlled through the screen itself, a little annoyingly; only now, there’s an easy way to expand the Tom Tom navigation mapping to fill the entirety of the screen, so it’s a little easier to follow. That nav system retains one or two annoying auto zoom quirks, especially for those who prefer a ‘2D North Up’ display mode; but it’s acceptably usable, clear and detailed. 

The car’s EU-mandatory lane keeping system is turned off via the infotainment menus, rather than via its own button; but it’s easy enough to achieve thanks to a clever usability trick that Peugeot has included. Whatever mode the system is in, it returns to a top-level menu with a three-fingered press on the screen. From there, deactivation of the lane-keeping aid is just a couple more inputs away (as, presumably, will be the same for the EU-mandated speed limit buzzer, which Peugeot expects to fit from mid-2024 production).

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, while wireless device charging is optional on Allure trim and standard on GT; and the car offers both USB-A and USB-C wired charging ports, split between passenger rows one and two.

The ergonomic logic is fine - provided you’re not one of the number of people who find that the combination of wheel positioning, and your hands fixed at quarter-to-three on it (which, presumably, is the whole thrust of the thinking) obscures your view of the instrument screen, particularly while the car is cornering. In our experience, it does for a lot of folk; while others would simply prefer to be sitting lower, looking through the orbit of the wheel at the instruments, and steering in conventional fashion.

Further back in the car, second-row cabin space is certainly meaner than the mid-sized executive saloon class average; but then you don’t design a saloon as sleekly good-looking as this without admitting a few compromises. Adult occupants may find both headroom and legroom tight, and there certainly isn’t room for three grown occupants across the back. But boot space is more class-competitive; especially in the case of the 508 SW, which offers 530 litres of cargo space under the windowline and with the second-row chairs in place (Audi A4 Avant - 495 litres)



The Peugeot 508 Plug-in Hybrid 225’s engine is very quiet at low revs, if it fires up at standstill or while mooching around at all - and that’s a trait it retains as speeds rise. You can take control of its operation via flappy paddles attached to the steering column (though they’re disappointingly thin-, and very plasticky and flimsy-feeling, and don’t invite tactile interaction). Most of the time our testers found the 508 breezed along agreeably without the interference.

This combustion engine has a high specific power output for a mainstream family car, of 111bhp per litre - so the electric drive motor, as well as providing propulsion on its own, chips in to fill the torque gaps while the engine’s turbo is beginning to spin, or when the eight-speed transmission is between gears. In everyday, unhurried driving, you don’t notice the engine starting and stopping, and how often the car’s running electrically. Drivability on part-throttle is good.

The slimline 508 sits much more comfortably in its lane than three adults across the back might. Still, good road manners mean those passengers you have got room for shouldn’t have much to complain about otherwise.

It’s only when you seek to drive the 508 more quickly, or exclusively in electric mode, that the closer attention you inevitably give the powertrain reveals a few shortcomings. Under sudden bigger throttle loads, you can catch the combustion engine napping; while the electric motor may be ready to respond, that the combustion engine and gearbox need a second to kick down before they can follow suit leaves the impression of cohesive togetherness of the whole powertrain a little lacking. 

Selecting a lower gear yourself before exiting a built-up area, or taking a corner, can mitigate the problem. Meanwhile, when you’re driving for economy and want to keep the combustion engine shut down for as long as possible in ‘Hybrid’ mode, the limited drive power of the electric motor makes your task a little hard out on the open road - even though Peugeot’s instrumentation is helpful enough.

You can choose to operate the 508 in ‘Electric’ driving mode, however – and as time goes by, in some cities presumably you’ll have to - when zero-emissions performance feels stouter when you need it to be. The claimed range from a full charge is up to 42 miles, depending on the particular specification of your car; but it’s hard to reproduce, even in stop-start traffic. On our typically more rural test route, 28- to 30 miles looked more realistic; which is a little disappointing for any PHEV executive option in 2023.

Whatever drive mode you’re in, the car’s eight-speed automatic ’box shifts smoothly, though a little slowly; and, via a dedicated ‘B’ transmission button, you can select something more akin to a one-pedal driving mode. That there’s always creep from a standstill means this can’t be a proper one-pedal-driving car, however


5 peugeot 508 profile estate

The Peugeot 508 has, in our experience to date, shown itself as a genial and relaxing drive companion. And despite carrying an extra 100kg over the conventionally powered car, the plug-in hybrid continues the theme.

The chassis, like the powertrain, is at its best when simply mooching around. Our GT-trim test car rode on optional adaptive dampers - and the ride was always pliant, quiet and fairly well isolated, if a little harder-edged than it needed to be over sharper intrusions thanks to its 19in wheels.

I’ve driven the 508 on both 19in and 18in alloys. On the smaller rim, and without adaptive dampers, the improvement in secondary ride was only marginal.

Scroll through the 508’s drive modes towards its more performance-oriented ones and you’ll fail to note a discernible uptick in the kind of dynamism it offers. It’s not without agility compared with some cars in the class – it feels more responsive than, say, an Audi A4 or Skoda Superb - but comfort is its primary setting. Which is fine; it matches the mood in which the drivetrain is at its best, too.

What does contribute to whatever agility it has is its direct, quick steering. A small-diameter wheel necessitates a high degree of assistance, to the extent that there’s little tactile communication fed back here, except a modicum of torque steer from a standing start, or out of tight corners. Assume grip levels and ask a lot of the 508, though, and it shows good adhesion, decent resistance to understeer, and good flat body control for the class.

The 508 composes itself with fluency and subtlety on undulating roads. Vertical body control over crests is quite contained, while the compression that follows is cushioned and progressive. So, for all the slightly limited capacities of its electrified powertrain, this doesn’t feel like a PHEV that’s been dynamically hobbled by the weight of its batteries and extra motorsI’ve driven the 508 on both 19in and 18in alloys. On the smaller rim, and without adaptive dampers, the improvement in secondary ride was only marginal.


1 peugeot 508 front driving

Peugeot’s keeping prices sensible on the 508. A lower-trim, Allure-spec PHEV can be had from a little under £44,000: a price that’s only seen about five per cent inflation since 2020, and very little indeed with this new facelifted version.

That may be a response to the only-average benefit-in-kind tax-busting potential of the car, of course. Order one to just the right optional specification and you can get the 508 into an eight per cent tax bracket; though most will qualify at 12 per cent. The good news for Peugeot is that there are still very few cars in this class that manage the 70-mile electric range necessary to crack a 5 per cent BIK rating, although there are rivals with significantly greater electric range.

Allure trim comes fairly well equipped. We’d add the Techno Pack (£600), extra-supportive AGR front seats (£500), and a 7.4kW charger upgrade (£400). Buy a fastback and you should still end up with an 8% BIK company car.

This is, in short, perhaps not the kind of PHEV that might go for months between petrol-tank fills; but, because it’s not as heavy as some, it’s decently efficient in range-extended running. If you start with a completely flat drive battery, in mixed driving you should see a return approaching 45mpg. Some rivals do marginally better - but plenty do significantly worse.


4 peugeot 508 rear estate

Revisiting our road test of the conventional combustion-engined saloon in 2018 sets a tone for the Peugeot 508 that still rings true.

This is a car that looks alluring and rides comfortably, and holds its head pretty high among both mainstream and premium alternatives. It has a cabin that impresses initially, if not for outright space then certainly for stylish ambience; and Peugeot’s i-Cockpit control layout and i-Connect infotainment systems gets a little better every time. Perhaps one day they will impress like BMW’s iDrive; but likely not.

This is a comfortable saloon that looks smart and feels classy. If you’re in the ‘I just need a car’ camp, it’ll have plenty of appeal.

Being the enthusiasts that we are, Autocar’s preferences in this class have longtime been for cars like the BMW 3-Series and Alfa Romeo Giulia. This is where the 508 Plug-in Hybrid scores, because some of the nicer cars in the class to drive still don’t offer you the chance to hook them up to a wall overnight, and drive them electrically; and some aren’t quite the dynamic leaders that they may be in other-engined guises if they do. 

At a stroke, then, the opportunity to burn very little, if any, fuel in your daily commute can take the 508 from an interesting alternative to a more compelling contender. If it's powertrain were the match of its chassis for understated sporting appeal, it would do even better.

The good news is that, aside from the rational allure of the drivetrain, the rest of the 508 package is respectable. This is a good-looking modern compact executive option that isn’t made notably expensive by its plug-in hybrid powertrain, nor punitively heavy; so it still rides and handles well, albeit not quite outstandingly so. 

It may not be a PHEV you’d gravitate towards on paper; but those who find themselves driving a 508 will likely appreciate its blend of strengths in everyday motoring - whether they are interested in what it’s doing under the bonnet and through the bends, or not.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Peugeot 508 First drives