2021 Peugeot 508 Review
Our independent 2021 Peugeot 508 review in Australia, including price, specs, interior, ride and handling, safety and score.
Peugeot’s new 508 might just be one of the most wonderful sedans (and available wagon) on the market without a six-figure price tag. Of course, it takes more than just lust for looks to lure a buyer’s pen onto the dotted line…so what else does the 508 offer?
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Well, um, it’s a lot. $57,490 before on-road costs if the badge hasn’t grabbed you already. That’s not to say you don’t get a lot of stuff, becuase the 508 arrives here packed to the fangs with stuff, such as 18-inch alloys, a 10-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, front and reversing cameras, keyless entry and start, active cruise control, powered front seats with heating and massaging functions, sat nav, auto parking (steering), auto LED headlights with auto high beam, Nappa leather seats, auto wipers, a solid safety package and a space-saver spare.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO OWN?
You will also know how much the car will cost to service before you roll in, at leaset for the first five services. Only problem is, they’ll cost no less than $600 and up to nearly $900 per service. Thankfully the service intervals are 12 months or 20,000km, but those service costs aren’t cheap. Not AMG expensive, no, but not cheap either. The only really obvious competitor, the Kia Stinger GT-Line (with its 2.0-litre turbo engine) costs roughly the same over seven services.
WHAT’S THE EXTERIOR LIKE?
Beautiful. Peugeot doesn’t always get the combination of aggression and beauty quite right, but 508 is very close to being perfectly beautiful. The front end’s aggression is quite literally bracketed by the fang-like LED lights that reach down into the bumper creating a very impressive and futuristic look when you’re coming down a dark road at night.
The long flowing lines nod to the classic proportions of compatriot company DS, but aren’t quite so avant-garde. It’s a real head-turner, and that wide-looking backside (courtesy of smoked lens lights that blend into the boot trim) makes the car look mean and purposeful.
WHAT’S THE INTERIOR LIKE?
Inside is properly avant-garde. From Peugeot’s i-Cockpit (teeny steering wheel, high dashboard) to the materials choices and bold shapes, it’s a dead-set winner. While not as nice as the 3008’s – somehow – there’s a lot lot to like in the way it’s designed. I’m a bit sad about the shortcut keys being plastic rather than whatever is in the 3008, but that’s about all I have to complain about. Apart from, you know, the media software.
WHAT’S THE INFOTAINMENT LIKE?
The big screen in the dash runs Peugeot’s less-than-stellar media and configuration system. You do a lot in the screen because there are so few buttons and dials and the problem is, the system isn’t very good. Once you’re into Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the hardware shows its hand but you quickly realise when you’re prodding about in the the Peugeot stuff that the software isn’t really up to it.
The stereo is a proper thumper, though, with good sound from the speakers.
WHAT IS THE STORAGE LIKE?
Like other newer Peugeots, storage is quite useful in the 508. Both front and rear rows score usable cupholders (some French cars are very much not on board with you having cups of coffee in the car with you) and there’s a space under the dash for your phone, which also has a wireless charger. Another phone sized slot sits under the driver’s elbow and is covered by a side-hinged door.
The boot starts at a creditable 487 litres and expands with the seats down to a whopping 1547 litres. Obviously the fast glass means the boot aperture is small, so don’t get too ambitious with bulky item purchases at Ikea.
WHAT ENGINES ARE AVAILABLE?
AS there’s only one spec, you only get one engine, Peugeot’s punky 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo. It spins up an impressive 165kW and 300Nm from its small capacity and is part of the French maker’s excellent engine line-up.
The power doesn’t go to its head, though, because the gearing in the eight-speed auto is fairly long, delivering a handy but not quick 8.1 second run to 100km/h.
WHAT ABOUT FUEL ECONOMY?
Peugeot’s ADR testing yielded an official combined cycle figure of 6.3L/100km while quaffing premium unleaded, as is the Euro car’s wont. I ended up a bit higher than that, at 9.2L/100km. Not bad, really.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Big French sedans are supposed to be serene. It’s something they’ve done for years, including the delightfully offbeat Renault Vel Satis (which we didn’t get here), the Citroen C6 and the old Peugeot 408. They were cool, calm, collected, stylish and nice to drive. The 508, despite this build-up intended to make you question everything, more than cheerfully carries on the tradition.
The 1.6-litre petrol is very smooth and spins up quickly. While there is a scooch of lag when you get going (don’t bother with sport mode), once it’s in its stride, it’s quiet and smooth all over. The suspension delivers a lovely balance between ride and handling and the only thing I’d really wish for is either more power or more steering feel.
The electric steering pretty much insulates you from the road, as it does in the 3008/5008 which is a bit of a shame, but if you’re going for cool and calm, it’s a good way to do it.
The cabin is quiet in pretty much all conditions and the ride is rarely upset by anything. It’s not going to wow you like a BMW 3 Series or even an Audi A5, but it nails down that peculariarly French way of easing your mind while you’re out on the road.
HOW SAFE IS THE 508?
The 508 arrives with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB to 140km/h with pedestrian and cyclist detection, traffic-sign recognition, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and driver attention detection.
For reasons that escape me, it doesn’t have reverse cross traffic alert.
For the kiddies, Peugeot includes two ISOFIX points and three top-tether points.
The 508 scored five ANCAP stars when tested in September 2019.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?
At this price point, there’s not a great deal to choose from. The Kia Stinger comes in GT-Line specification at this level and is a very nice car indeed. The looks are a little more polarising (I like them, but some folks are rather less sure) and you get a long warranty and cheaper servicing regime.
VW’s Passat is cheaper and while nice enough to look at, has nothing like the personality of the 508, although it’s probably just as exclusive. There was the coupe-alike Arteon which was a better for the 508 cross-shopper, but it’s now a departed soul.
At a stretch, you might consider the Skoda Superb, but again, like its VW Group bretheren, it’s not as cool.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Peugeot didn’t, isn’t and won’t expect punters to be beating down its door to buy 508s. Most folks are in a Peugeot dealer because they like the look of the SUVs and didn’t even know the 508 existed. That’s kind of a shame, because as good as the SUVs are, the 508 sedan is lovelier and it’s a proper car, nice and low and just as comfortable.
I love the 508 for lots of complicated enthusiast reasons, but setting those aside, I’m glad Peugeot had the stones to release it in Australia. It provides a lovely counterpoint to the Germans, packs a lot of gear in for the money and looks gorgeous doing it.