The 2021 Peugeot 508 Deserves a Closer Look

Peugeot 508 34 photos
Photo: Peugeot
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Freshly canceled U.S. debut and somehow left in the background of Stellantis group's European priorities: right now, the Peugeot 508 seems to be an unfairly neglected fine object. No matter what the managers will decide at their high altitude, this car deserves a closer look from the public and potential buyers.
Produced by a distinguished French brand, with respectable tradition and some reference achievements in the history of the automobile, the Peugeot 508 is a worthy heir of the mid-size sedans dynasty of the house. The insistent way in which Peugeot promotes their crossover-SUVs casts a shadow over the elegant 508, unfortunately.

2021 Peugeot 508
Photo: Peugeot


The connoiseurs surely remember that Peugeot used to collaborate with Pininfarina concerning the design (that famous Italian studio that also signs most of the Ferrari projects). Among others, Pininfarina designed the Peugeot 405 mid-size sedan, the facelift of the Peugeot 406 mid-size sedan and the Peugeot 406 Coupe. Starting with the Peugeot 407, the Franco-Italian collaboration ceased and the consequences were easy to see.

The 407 had a disproportioned front overhang and, later, the first generation of the Peugeot 508 was dressed in a rather German-like style. This disorientation ended only with the advent of the second generation of the Peugeot 508, in 2018. And that’s a really beautiful thing! Looking at it, you might believe that the collaboration with Pininfarina has been resumed, although it is not the case.


Nicely done: the people from the brand’s design department managed to clearly avoid any complexity cliché related to the cars of the gadget-era. First of all, the Peugeot 508 is about fluid shapes, minimalist contours, harmonious proportions and refined details. All of those, perfectly integrated. A similar treatment has left its mark on the interior design, with some substantial surprises, however. The layout of the cockpit seems to have a kind of sci-fi inspiration due to the edgy shapes of the objects around the driver’s seat. It might make you think of a tie-fighter cockpit from Star Wars.

2021 Peugeot 508
Photo: Peugeot
Seeing the virtual instruments panel above a small steering wheel, this is something specific solely to Peugeot and they call it the i-Cockpit. There is also a rectangular multimedia display stuck on the center console. Only after you get used to the whole arrangement of the dashboard, the styling philosophy and the decorative elements start to be noticed, including the good quality of fit and finish. There are no aggressive contrasts, only refined color-to-dark gray juxtapositions.

Definitely, we are dealing here with the modern French artistic spirit exposed without reserve in a generously dimensioned interior space. Practical detail: this typical sedan has a large tailgate instead of a conventional trunk lid. The volume of the trunk is 487 liters – nothing special here, but this is more than enough. There is also a station wagon version, better in practical terms, but, implicitly, with a less noble status.


In terms of engine options, Peugeot has applied the downsizing philosophy for its 508 without looking back. At the bottom of the range, there is a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder boosting about 130 hp. Not exactly an asphalt predator, that’s obvious. It needs 10 seconds to get from 0 to 100 kph (62 mph). The displacement of the “big” 4-cylinder gasoline mills is only 1.6 liters. Thanks to turbocharging, these motors are able to develop 180 and, for the top version, 225 hp. In fact, they make a better impression while driving than their cylinder capacity suggests. The 225 hp version manages to accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in 7.3 s.

Beside these, Peugeot offers a plug-in hybrid version of the so-called 508 PureTech 225. Its electric engine contributes with 100 hp to the car's propulsion and the battery pack of 11.5 kWh ensures (according to the WLTP cycle) an electric range of 50 km (31 miles). There is also a 508 Sport Engineered plug-in hybrid using the same 1.6-liter gasoline engine and two electric motors. In this case, we talk about a propulsion system capable to provide 360 hp and up to 520 Nm (384 lb-ft) of torque. The 508 Sport Engineered has all-wheel-drive and accelerates from 0 to 100 kph in just 5.2 seconds – finally, we found the leader of the lion pride.

Anybody still interested in diesels? Actually, the 508 diesel top versions deserve a closer look because the 508 BlueHDI 160 and 508 BlueHDI 180 are equipped with torquey 2.0-liter turbodiesels. Try them if you want to see how it feels to have 400 Nm (295 lb-ft) under the right pedal without paying for the complex, extra-heavy and expensive plug-in hybrid technology. Great cars for those who drive long distances outside the city limits. A range of about 1200 km (746 miles) is realistic.

2021 Peugeot 508
Photo: Peugeot
Brief conclusion: even if the range of engines is not too extensive, it easily covers the normal demands between economy and sporty performance. Important refinement touch: all the engines are mated with automatic 8-speed transmissions.


Hard to tell if it is a nice surprise or not: Peugeot 508’s roadholding is sportier than expected. Yes, it’s good to feel the chassis underneath your driver’s seat, as it has rigorous responses no matter the quality of the road. Riding comfort, on the other hand, could have been better. Even if the car steers quite precisely, using the small and quite low placed steering wheel feels a bit awkward. The chosen dosage for the steering assistance doesn’t help too much to get a natural feeling about what happens to the car while turning. There are three drive modes to choose from: Normal, Sport and Eco. However, only the Sport mode really convinced us in terms of steering sharpness.


The typically firm behavior of the chassis is pretty good for the 1.6 gasoline, hybrid and 2.0 diesel engines. They can be easily driven quite fast and that’s the perfect excuse for the not completely comfortable ride. Those expecting a more comfortable suspension from the less powerful versions might be disappointed. The refined exterior design, the spacious interior and the well-customized cockpit have the power to keep you interested in the 508.

2021 Peugeot 508
Photo: Peugeot
Otherwise, after a promising first contact, the car’s dynamic character leaves the impression of being a bit blurred. This lion (Peugeot has one big feline on their badge) insists about not being soft, yet also it doesn’t always show an explicit incisive and sharp attitude. In nature, lions show a certain laziness, thus without being a kind of tolerant animals. Did Peugeot try to get this right for the 508?


Enjoyed the exterior design and the i-Cockpit of the 508? Well, there in nothing else alike on the market. So, acquiring a distinguished, less conventional mid-size sedan at a bargain price is not possible (the cheapest version is available at €33.600 or about $57.200). The Alfa Romeo Giulia, Jaguar XE or Volvo S60 play in a different league, yet the 508 doesn’t look poor at all when parked near them. This brings us back to the question: can’t they give a little help to this nice car by some fine technical calibration and an adequate promotion strategy?
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