REINVENTION is very much in vogue with French car maker Peugeot at the moment, with the brand’s range in the midst of a comprehensive overhaul as it continues its mission to move into more upmarket territory.
The 3008 and 5008 SUVs led the way, replacing a clumsylooking crossover and dated MPV respectively and to considerable acclaim, as they heralded a bold and fresh new design language.
The solid but somewhat uninspiring 508 was next in line for a revamp and last year Peugeot’s large family-cumbusiness offering was transformed from a bogstandard four-door saloon into a sporty five-door ‘fastback’.
The front end picks up the sharp and muscular cues first seen on those well-received SUV siblings while the rakish roofline swoops down to LED tail lights which, on higher spec models, do a little jig when you unlock the doors, which are coupe-style frameless affairs.
It’s a very easy-on-the-eye machine which has a purposeful presence.
Peugeot’s PureTech petrol engine technology has already garnered a slew of industry awards and the turbocharged 1.6-litre version under the bonnet of our test car provides the sort of spirited performance that lives up to the sporty styling.
Kicking out 225ps and mated to a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission, it will knock off the 0-62mph sprint in 7.3 seconds, while a top speed of 155mph is up there with the performance heavyweights.
The 508 feels punchy and responsive with this potent drivetrain, which also emits a satisfying note when you pile on the revs, while a four-mode drive selector – which toggles through self-explanatory eco, comfort, normal and sport settings – allows the driver to tweak the set-up to suit.
Peugeot’s current preference for undersized steering wheels enhances the engaging nature of the drive as does a sportily low driving position and the racing-style paddle shifters for those who want to override the automatic gearbox.
Steering is quick and accurate and handling sharp and nimble, while the low-slung, road-hugging chassis ensures the car stays settled and flat when pushing on along winding rural roads – making this a decent all-round driver’s motor.
A lower-powered version of the petrol unit we tried and three diesel options complete the engine line-up, all coming with the eight-speed automatic gearbox bar the entry-level diesel, which gets a six-speed manual.
The 508’s interior, like the exterior, takes some key design cues from the 3008 and 5008 to create a stylish and distinctive modern driving environment with fixtures and fittings fully in keeping with the premium territory that Peugeot now sees itself in – particularly in the range-topping GT trim of our car.
You sit on plush leather upholstery and tactile softtouch surfaces cover all the key touch points around the cabin, contrasted with carbon-fibre effect and shiny veneered finishes elsewhere.
The sloping roofline means rear headroom is tight for those approaching six feet tall but legroom is good, there’s decent personal storage and, at 487 litres, the boot is perfectly capable of swallowing a couple of holiday cases or a weekly shop.
At more than £37,000, the price of this flagship car is very much in premium territory too. However, you do get a host of creature comforts and high-tech gadgets thrown in – many of which would mean a trip to the options list with high-end rival brands.
Peugeot’s touchscreen infotainment system still has its quirks but is gradually becoming more user friendly and the additional piano-key controls included here are stylish and functional.
The system features navigation, digital radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Other kit includes Peugeot’s i-Cockpit digital driver’s instrument panel, automatic dual-zone climate control, rearview camera, keyless entry and ignition, power adjustable heated front seats, automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist and blind spot warning systems.
A premium German badge would not look out of place on the 508 – and for those who can see past the fact that it hasn’t got one, this is a stylish and sporty alternative that’s well-worth taking a look at.