Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Eye-catching dashboard design looks great
  • Not as much space as in rivals, though
  • Some controls may take some getting used to

Inside, things are a little more complex; Peugeot’s now-familiar i-Cockpit interior set-up morphs into a new generation with the 508, taking cues from not only the latest 3008 and 5008 SUVs, but also concept cars the company has shown in recent years.

The firm’s latest design language is out in force with the small steering wheel, high-set dials on the dashboard and the centre console sloping away from the dashboard, cocooning the driver up front. The dashboard itself is stepped, making it a much more interesting place to sit, but there’s not an overwhelming sense of space for larger drivers.

Peugeot 508 dashboard

It might look odd, but Peugeot is onto something with their interior architecture. Even if the end result is purely to look a little different, that’s no bad thing, but some aspects do seem to work better than conventional layouts. It all feels well built with plenty of nice materials used around the cabin, but the digital dials and low-set touchscreen display in the centre will take a little getting used to for some.

Previous complaints we’ve made about accessing the climate control solely via the touchscreen has been partly rectified with the 508, thanks to temperature display shortcuts at each side of the screen.

You also have the piano-style keys running along the bottom of the screen to switch between the main functions, but it’s not the easiest to operate in a hurry without taking your eyes off the road for more time than you’d like. Spend a little more time behind the wheel and you’ll learn where everything is.

Peugeot 508 infotainment screen

The plug-in hybrid models come with an additional option for the menu screen, specifically displaying a graphic on how the hybrid system works – including battery power flow, charge status and statistics for energy consumption in terms of fuel and battery consumption.

The small steering wheel continues to be a joy to use and the driving position is still as divisive as it is on other Peugeots, depending on the person’s stature. Oddly, you rely on the centre screen for the sat-nav more than you do on the driver’s instrument panel, even though it's ahead of you. We’re sure this habit will change over time for owners, but it shows the immediate effectiveness of the digital dials if the screen isn't quite bright enough - or sharp enough - to get your attention. 

Computer geeks will also find it hard to stifle a giggle at the unusually shaped gear selector. It resembles the kind of joysticks once proposed as an alternative to the steering wheel, but is one of the least-used controls when driving.

At the time of writing, the night vision display is a £1,300 option that lets this big cat see in the dark, providing an infra-red style heat signature view of the world ahead and outlining shadowy figures (or warm wheelie bins) in bright yellow boxes. It can be switched between layouts quickly, and is impressively resistant to glare.

Unlike the handsome interior of left-hand drive models, British examples lose the wood trim and even get denied the tactile delights of the 5008’s textiles; instead this fastback has rather budget-looking carbon fibre effect plastic on the horizontal surfaces. It cheapens the otherwise avant-garde interior.

Overall, though, the effect is good. There’s no denying how attractive it all is and there’s real drama to the way the 508’s interior looks. The material quality is still the best yet from the French company and if you get on with the i-Cockpit design and driving position, the 508 is a lovely place in which to while away the miles.

Peugeot 508 i-Cockpit screen

Is it comfortable?

  • Good ride comfort on adaptive suspension
  • Supportive seats and low-set driving position
  • Refinement is very good

When it comes to the interior, the 508 serves up comfortable, contoured seats across the range with a good level of adjustment for both front occupants. With plenty of pleasant materials used around the cabin and a high window line to help you feel a bit more cocooned, this Peugeot feels a bit more special compared to certain rivals, such as the Volkswagen Arteon.

Taller people may struggle for headroom – especially if you go for the sunroof option - while the cocooning effect might feel a bit claustrophobic for some after a while. The seats are excellent for a car of this price and while they are mounted slightly too high, they provide fabulous comfort whatever model you choose. The soft cushions add to the comfort levels here, helping absorb bumps sent into the cabin by the firm suspension so you and your passengers won’t have to.

It’s possible to adjust the extremely comfortable seats to suit most frames, and visibility out is impressive for a low-roofed car. Higher spec models fare better with a better choice of seating material but they are otherwise firm, comfortable and supportive enough for longer journeys. The motors for the front massage seats found on certain models can be annoyingly noisy, but you at least get five different types to choose from, including one amusingly titled ‘cat paw’.

That said, the Arteon edges it for refinement and remains a relaxing place to spend a long journey in. We suspect the 508 will become quite wearing sooner into a journey.

When it comes to the way 508 rides, it never really settles down, even when fitted with smaller wheels. The problem with this firm ride is that it never really translates into a great sense of agility, so the absence of a sporting drive may not be a worthy compromise for some.

Peugeot 508 drive modes 2019

Higher-spec models with adaptive suspension perform better, adjusting in accordance with the four drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Normal and Sport. The softest setting makes the prow bob up and down a little too much, while Normal does a good job of smoothing things out without feeling too wallowy. Switch to Sport mode, however, and the ride is unpleasantly harsh on our British roads - and since there’s little added benefit to the 508’s handling, it’s not a mode you want to stick with for very long.

Models lower down the range do without the adaptive set-up, and don’t ride quite as well, but even GT-Line models deliver a composed ride while retaining the more-involving-than-expected driving experience.

The rest of the 508’s refinement is a bit of a mixed bag. Road noise is ever present, accompanied by wind noise around the door mirrors and at the top of the frameless doors. The engines remained hushed at all speeds, though, whichever one you choose.

The plug-in hybrid appears to be a little more impressive than the rest of the range, absorbing bumps and isolating them from the cabin more effectively. We suspect the additional 280kg in weight from the added hybrid hardware has a factor, but it’s also quieter when it comes to engine noise and road noise, too. This is good news as the conventional petrol engines generate quite a harsh note, and here it’s relatively muted - although our experience with this specific model has been limited to European roads so far.

Combine this with the ability to drive in electric mode and the hybrid makes for a far more serene place to spend time in, especially if you reside in towns and cities for much of the time you spend driving. Switch the drive mode to Comfort and this softens the suspension for better ride comfort, although we found the difference to be negligible.