Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Peugeot 508 (2021) review - driving

  • Two petrol and three diesel engines
  • Most models fitted with an automatic gearbox
  • Plug-in hybrid on the way

What engine options are there?

Powering the 508 is a range of BlueHDi diesels and PureTech petrol engines, some of which we’ve seen before in other Peugeot and Citroen products.

Petrol engines

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
Puretech 180 180hp, 250Nm 7.9secs 143mph
Puretech 225 225hp, 300Nm 7.3secs 155mph

View full specs

Two petrol engines are available in the 508 – both of which are 1.6-litre turbocharged PureTech units. First up is the PureTech 180, which will be fine for most. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t the most sporting 508 Fastback ever made, but this engine is perfectly adequate if you reside in low-speed town environments or spend the majority of your time cruising at steady motorways speeds.

Ask any more from it and you’ll start to find its breadth of ability to be rather limited. It has a reluctance to rev to the higher end of the range equates to an engine that doesn’t like to be worked hard. This makes the 508 feel as though it’s heavy and overtaking manoeuvres will need pre-planning with more space than some may expect.

At the top of the range is the PureTech 225, producing 225hp and 300Nm of torque. It’s the fastest to complete the 0-62mph sprint at 7.3 seconds, and will reach a 155mph top speed. It too only uses the automatic gearbox.

The 225 engine is quiet, but like the diesel, its soundtrack is low down in the mix, and it accelerates well. The eight-speed auto is responsive, but trails behind its best rivals, being a little too eager to change ratios. This is most apparent with its ill-judged gearchanges during times of spirited driving. Most of the time, though, it’s very smooth and the engine noise never gets too out of hand.

Put it in Sport mode and it becomes a little more hyperactive and hangs onto gears a shade too long, which is where the engine makes itself heard. Plus, if you use the paddles to try and gain some control, the software reverts it back to automatic mode far too soon again

It’s not too gruff and unpleasant, but the sound of a four-cylinder engine isn’t particularly inspiring, and there’s a lot of turbo whistle, too.

Diesel engines

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
Blue HDi 130 131hp, 300Nm 10.0secs 129mph
Blue HDi 160 163hp, 400Nm 9.1secs 143mph
Blue HDi 180 177hp, 400Nm 8.3secs 146mph

View full specs

There’s a choice of three diesel engines in the 508, starting with a 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130. It’s the only engine available with a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed EAT8 automatic gearboxes – all the others come with the automatic gearbox as standard.

Pick the manual version of this engine and the 0-62mph benchmark sprint takes 9.1 seconds, while the EAT8 auto takes slightly longer at 10.0 seconds. Top speed for both versions is rated at 129mph.

In many ways, this diesel with the manual gearbox option feels the most sporting, as the added job of changing gears yourself makes you feel more involved, while the engine remains torquey and responsive enough to give the 508 a dose of verve.

Peugeot 508 gearlever

Next up is a 2.0-litre BlueHDi 160 diesel, which is quicker, but the performance star of the range is the 508 GT in 2.0-litre BlueHDi 180 form. Performance is strong thanks to all that punch, and it feels well matched with the eight-speed auto. The torque doesn’t overwhelm the car when you need to move away a little quicker, and it works its way through the ratios smoothly with very little jerkiness. It also remains very refined at all times, making it a great option for long-distance journeys.

Electric and hybrid engines

The Hybrid 225 uses the 1.6-litre petrol engine producing 180hp and 300Nm of torque, along with an electric motor producing 110hp. Combined power output is 225hp and is delivered through the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The identically powered entry-level petrol engine in the 508 can feel underpowered as it struggles to keep up with traffic, but in this plug-in hybrid, it seems to be less of an issue.

Peugeot 508 Hybrid driver's screen 2020

This is thanks to the help of the electric motors providing additional low-down grunt, making for a more relaxed driving experience that better-suits this Fastback – since both petrol engines fail to live up to the 508’s sporting prowess, you end up driving at a slower pace anyway.

Progress is still moderate, but the strong electric motors are quick at generating momentum from low speeds, leaving the engine to kick in higher up in the rev range. The added bonus of this means the gruff-sounding engine isn’t as intrusive in the cabin as the conventionally-powered 508s, taking back a step in day-to-day driving. It’s almost as if it’s there to assist the electric motors, rather than be relied upon most of the time. 

Flick through the drive modes and you can select between Electric, Comfort, Hybrid and Sport. Sport mode combines both the petrol engine and electric motor for the best performance and helps liven up the 508’s acceleration in everyday driving. This doesn’t transform the car’s performance out on the open road, but is more useful around town, where the electric motors make the most difference from low speeds.

Peugeot 508 Hybrid gearlever, B mode 2020

Nudge the gearlever down from D into B mode and this activates the car’s regenerative braking system, slowing the car down without the need to apply the brake pedal. This energy is used to charge up the battery and, while the amount accrued doesn’t make a significant difference in charge levels, it certainly adds to the convenience of driving in stop-start traffic as you simply drive and slow down using the accelerator pedal.

Handling

  • Peugeot’s 508 is enjoyable on a twisty road
  • Good body control with little roll
  • Impressive ride and sharp steering

Peugeot is making some big promises about the way the 508 drives, and the experience on a twisty road largely lives up to what you’d expect from those sleek, sharp exterior lines.

While it’s not as involving as a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, the 508 does a good job of being both good to drive and comfortable at the same time, even on higher-spec GT models with larger alloy wheels.

Take the 508 down a twisting road and it remains remarkably balanced and stable, feeling composed with a sufficient level of body control and plenty of grip on hand. Even if it falls short of inducing smiles, there’s still a good amount of satisfaction to be had.

The small steering wheel adds to the feeling of agility and helps the 508 feel as though it’s easily chuckable down a winding road. The steering’s light, but there’s a decent build-up in weight as you apply more lock, too, adding to the level of interaction. It’ll eventually run out of grip if you really push it, but it takes some doing and most 508 drivers are unlikely to be driving it at full pelt on a twisty B-road.

It’s easier to reach the limits of grip in the heavier plug-in hybrid, but this is hardly the vehicle to hustle down your favourite road anyway. You can certainly try, but it won’t be pretty. Sure, you can make swift progress as the electric motors help nudge you up to speed, but it’s best to drive at a moderate pace as it’s more in line with the hybrid’s relaxed nature.

Peugeot 508 driving, rear 2020