J O purchased this Peugeot 508 used for $46,000 (including all on-road costs) in 2021. J O would buy this car again because: “It’s a sexy soccer dad car, more practical than an SUV and it represents decent value given the specification. It’s a small and efficient engine, but it can still get up and move when you are past the turbo lag. As someone that’s owned a lot of cars, and has a different rental car most weeks, I always appreciate what the 508 is. It fills a gap left by other mid and large sedans stylishly and with a French twist. It’s long, sleek, super practical and tasteful. “
I’ve only had one other French car in my life, and it was a complete piece of trash. I swore I would never buy a French car… yet here I am. Maybe I’m a masochist with a penchant for the obscure?
As an engineer and car enthusiast, I feel like this car is smartly put together, and the 5 year warranty was a drawcard. The reality is manufacturers now recruit from a global talent pool, source from the same pool of suppliers and all copy each others procedures and standards. There are still differences, but the 508 is based on a modern platform and modern engine that’s in plenty of cars.
I keep thinking this is best described as a high-end French Camry. I hate Camrys, but they are reliable and never die, even when you want them to. The frameless windows seal nicely and don’t create excessive wind noise. The doors close nicely, most of the touch points are lovely, and it passes the creak test.
I have had no reliability or QA issues so far except for a rattle in the sunroof that was fixed under warranty.
There are a few RHD conversion quirks, like the bonnet opening on the wrong side, fuse box in the glove box, and missing LED strip (compared to LHD) in the dash, to name a few. However, these are minor issues and probably smart engineering compromises given the volumes these would sell. It’s not a day to day annoyance.
The dealer network is horrific. Even before the car market went crazy, it was difficult to get any customer service to even buy one. It was the worst car buying experience of my life, by far. The car wasn’t even clean, there was no walkthrough of car features.
The dealers didn’t have a clue about these cars, with one even wrongly claiming they were used on the Commodore (the Peugeot engineers decided against using that platform due to the weight… and I love that the engineers made this call rather than the bean counters), and the dealer not able to even locate the car when I had organised to come and see it. The 508s were shoved out the back, covered in dust, while the overpriced SUVs sat at the front with a tacky ribbon.
Maybe the key learning is, don’t buy a car from a dealer on the Gold Coast?
However, the service experience at another Peugeot dealer was honest and simple. For a brand with premium aspirations, they need to up their game. I’ve only seen a handful around my city.
Compared to the SUV cousins (5008/3008) which share its platform, the 508 GT is really good value. It comes fully loaded with everything from massaging seats to all the active safety kit. The Nappa leather seats look great, the digital instrument cluster works well, the active safety works better than in most other cars, and it is gorgeous inside.
The natural competitor is/was the Volvo V60, which could be had for just a few thousand more, and you get all-wheel drive and a 2.0L engine. However I preferred the 508 to drive, and I appreciated that the 508 was much lighter, more efficient and a little more unusual. The AWD in the Volvo felt like unnecessary weight and complexity, and the driving felt numb.
Compared to the Passat Wagon, by the time you found a Passat optioned up, it was a bit silly. I also didn’t like it to drive, and I didn’t want to look at a sales rep all the time.
When I bought this the new Octavia has just come out, so there were no good deals. The other competitor is the Mazda 6, which is long in the tooth and not cheap anyway. The 508 feels far bigger than the A4 Avant, more tasteful than a C Class, and certainly a lot nicer than the Commodore wagon.
This is a niche product… Peugeot spent money in some areas and trimmed in others that are a bit unusual, and that may make this car an unusual proposition. A few more options like varying leather colours and dash finishes, a better dealer network, would really elevate the offering.
I’ve stepped down from a Maserati to a Peugeot, and incredibly I haven’t felt like I’ve wanted more power in normal driving. I’ve seen a lot of comments from people saying that they would not consider this car due to the engine, but I think this is silly. The actual engine outputs are impressive, and you get the benefit of a modern, efficient and light engine.
This car is more like a croissant shopping trolley than a sports car, but you can still have some fun. It still drives better than any SUV this side of a Macan. The 0-100 time is worrying, but I wonder how much is due to the high gearing, FWD and turbo lag?
In gear if feels quicker than the 0-100 suggests. I’ve never struggled to get up to speed, and it’s only when I’ve floored it obnoxiously from standstill to sneak into a gap in traffic that I’ve been caught by turbo lag and missed a V8.
The engine does get a little bit “raspy” at high RPM, but you have to push well beyond normal driving to notice this. There is plenty of torque down low to never have to get the RPM up too high. For those curious, I believe the engine has lineage to the 1.6l Mini developed originally with BMW. Yes, this is a much bigger car, but in this state of tune, it’s no slouch.
In terms of economy, it’s the most fuel efficient car I’ve owned. The fundamentals are there for good efficiency, such as small turbo engine, FWD for less drivetrain resistance, lower drag, lower weight, 8 speed Aisin transmission and stop-start.
Braking is smooth and progressive, rather than artificially abrupt. It’s all very easy to drive.
The technology is almost faultless.
As I’ve driven a lot of different cars due to my work I’ve been able to try out a lot of different implementations of active safety tech. The Peugeot feels a little more invasive, but it’s been reliable. The speed sign recognition has been really good. One the highway, sometimes I have to nudge the wheel slightly so that the system knows I still have my hands on the wheel, so that it’s doesn’t harass me to keep holding the wheel. This really would drive itself on the highway, and I would almost trust it.
My favourite feature is that I can set a minimalist instrument cluster. Rather than being overloaded with information or garish graphics (Im looking at you, Skoda), the Peugeot offers something tasteful and minimalist. I think this embodies what this car is about. It isn’t about being the loudest, fastest, biggest, or cheapest. It doesn’t obnoxiously beep at you (Kia?) or assault your eyeballs with 100 mismatched textures and plastics. It’s like a French girl, elegant and tasteful.
There are some annoyances. The infotainment is no match for BMW iDrive, although it’s totally serviceable. I can’t set a custom driving mode, I can’t reprogram the shortcut buttons/ piano keys (if I did, I would program one as CarPlay and another for GPS to send me home), and the logic of swapping between Bluetooth/ CarPlay/ DAB when starting and stopping the car confounds me.
E.g. if I had CarPlay on, leave the car and return without plugging my phone back in, it won’t default to DAB or bluetooth. The 360 degree top down camera works great, although I wish I had a dedicated button to enable it when creeping forward, rather than having to flick it in reverse first. These small refinements mean it’s a step behind the likes of BMW, but it’s also $30k cheaper, and I’m nitpicking.
There feels like a degree of minimalist to the design. With iCockpit, there is no need for a HUD. I haven’t missed a HUD. With paddle shifters, there is no real need for the drive selector to change gears. You can’t close off the air vents, but you do have climate control and a physical button to disable all climate control. On the other hand the child lock is digital, every door handle unlocks the car, and all interior lights are lovely “touch” lights.
Ride comfort has been excellent with the 18-inch wheels. The adjustable shocks are spot on for daily driving, with bumps being really smoothed out, but if I throw it into a corner it still holds nicely. I’ve never bottomed out, and I’ve even had to hit up some corrugated country roads without issue.
For my tastes, the shocks are too firm when in sport mode. Maybe I’m getting old, or maybe the roads near me are bad, but it’s unnecessarily firm. At first the steering felt too light in normal drive mode, but I’ve gotten used it and and come to like the effortless nature of it.
I have no idea how a large FWD car has such a good turning circle. It’s another nice and unexpected touch.
In the twisties, the 508 holds surprising grip when pushed hard, certainly enough to make passengers a little fearful for their life and dropping their croissants. You have to push it a little to realise this car really can go around a corner. The performance/ driving experience is let down mostly by the lack of steering feedback. It hasn’t got the feedback of a true drivers car, but it can still be fun and it’s a lot more pleasurable than a floaty SUV.
I feel like iCockpit is really divisive, but I love it. When I get back into any other car, I feel like I’m stepping back to the past. As soon as I tried it, I loved it, and it’s been hard to look back. It just makes sense, even if it’s unconventional.
In terms of practicality, the huge boot is a real bonus. Maybe Peugeot sacrificed some second row space for the boot, and I’m okay with that.