By Jonathan Crouch
Peugeot's first generation 508 was improved in this facelifted post-2014-era guise, but its essential virtues remained much as before, with comfort, style and practicality all strong selling points. It's still not the most dynamic choice you could make in search of a used 'D' segment medium range model, but it's a consummate cruiser that in this updated MK1 form benefitted from extra technology and the option of a more efficient BlueHDi diesel engine. Both these things combined with the smarter styling to keep this saloon and SW estate line-up current until it was replaced in 2018. Does it stack up as a used buy?
Look back on the history of large Peugeots - say at the 403 model of the Fifties, the 404 of the Sixties and the 504 of the Seventies or the 505 of the Eighties - and you see the brand pursuing a 'one size fits all' approach to this segment. Core customers simply didn't need anything bigger. It was a strategy unwisely abandoned between the later Eighties and the modern era when 405 and 605 models (and later their 407 and 607 descendants) were launched to offer buyers separate 'large' and 'larger' alternatives in this sector. With the original launch of this 508 model in 2011, that idea was abandoned. Going forward, this would be the only option for those wanting a really spacious, comfortable Peugeot of the conventional kind.
There weren't many people of that sort though - not in Europe anyway - so to try and improve 508 sales, Peugeot significantly revised this model in 2014 with updated engines and a smarter look for both the saloon and the SW estate, plus an upgraded cabin. In addition, there was a clever non-Plug-in diesel/electric hybrid RXH. It didn't make much difference and sales slumped until the second generation 508 model was launched in mid-2018.
What You Get
We tend to expect something special of Peugeot in the styling department, a distinguished elegance that carries a bit of weight. The original 508 certainly had a very clean shape but it lacked that gravitas, that.. certain something that ought to differentiate a Peugeot from, say, a Ford or Vauxhall. To that end, this facelifted MK1 model got a smarter, more upright front grille with a central lion motif to provide a bit more visual clout, with chromed styling that was more assertive and added another 16mm of length to the front overhang. The bonnet was re-styled to be a little more handsome too, re-shaped to be more horizontal and give the car what the brand hoped was a more contemporary look.
Lift the optional powered tailgate on the SW estate model and a 512-litre luggage compartment is revealed, which is a useful improvement on the 473-litre boot you get in the saloon variant. Good too, that there are practical touches, an optional load net and solid hooks for restraining straps there to ensure that your eggs don't end up merging with your Iron Bru.
Take a seat behind the wheel and if you had experience of the original version of this car, you'll find that this improved model offers up a noticeable improvement in quality, with softer trim finishes and higher quality cloths. The main interior change though with the MK1 model update was the addition of a 7" colour touchscreen to the dash, the idea being to intuitively group together most of the vehicle's main functions and so reduce button clutter.
What to Look For
We came across plenty of very satisfied 508 buyers in our ownership survey but inevitably, there were a few issues. One owner complained of the wipers hitting the A-pillars. Another had issues with the air conditioning, the wipers, the stereo and the electrics. We came across reports of various interior rattles, so make sure the car you're testing was one of the better screwed-together ones. Another owner found the engine cutting out in cold weather. Otherwise, it's just the usual things. Check the alloy wheels for kerbing damage. And the rear part of the interior for child damage. And insist on a fully stamped-up service record.
(approx based on a 2015 508 2.0 BlueHDi excl. VAT) A pair of front brake pads are between £31-£78 depending on brand. A pair of rear brake pads are between £18-£44. A pair of front brake discs start in the £45 to £60 bracket, but you can pay up to £130 for pricier brands. A pair of rear brake discs start in the £40 to £75 bracket, but you can pay up to £120 for pricier brands. A rear shock absorber costs around £25. Air filters sit in the £9-£11 bracket. Oil filters cost around £4-£6 and a timing belt is around £24. A rear lamp sits in the £160-£180 bracket; a headlamp is around £300.
On the Road
The big news with this revised 508 model was the addition of the brand's latest generation 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel, offered with 150bhp in manual form or with 180bhp as a 6-speed automatic. In either case, there was enough performance to compensate for the fact that the revised MK1 508 line-up was a diesel-only range. An SW version 150hp BlueHDi 2.0-litre variant makes 62mph from rest in 10.1s on the way to 130mph but more importantly putting out a pokey 370Nm of torque, so you won't have to stir the gearbox too much into action if you're really running late.
Alongside the BlueHDi offerings in this post-'14-era line-up sat the older Euro5 engines carried over from the original 508 range. Some original buyers opted for the entry-level 1.6-litre e-HDi diesel models which offer 115bhp. A better choice though, might be the version that bridges the gap between that base 1.6 and fully-fledged BlueHDi 508 motoring - namely the 2.0-litre HDi 140bhp variant.
This 508 was never any sort of class leader but it was certainly comfortable, well equipped and efficient to run. Would we ever have imagined a few years ago that a car of this kind would routinely be able to average over 65mpg and put out only just over 100g/km of CO2? This one can - and does even better still if you can stretch to it in its clever diesel/electric HYbrid4 guises.
If you buy one though, we have a feeling that's not going to be the reason why. 508 folk, it seems, are people who want style and comfort but don't want either of those things to compromise the ownership experience. They're people with a very distinct set of priorities. Here's a car that'll suit them perfectly.