27.9.2019Peugeot 508 Fastback PureTech 225 review
Peugeot is on quite a roll at the moment, producing cars that look great, drive well, and with some excellent engine options. There’s a comprehensive electrification plan on its way too. But until those plug-in models arrive, the 508 Fastback is the latest model to be subjected to NGC's scrutiny.
Review by Chris Lilly
Tested is the 508 fitted with Peugeot's 1.6 litre PureTech petrol engine producing 225hp. Power goes to the front wheels in this case via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It's a punchy set-up, with plenty of power on tap, supported by the 300 Nm of torque available. Performance figures come in at a 7.3 second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 155mph. If anything, the 508 feels a little faster than that, with a responsive throttle and gearbox that is quick to change. The combination is a good one, and the Peugeot provides an enjoyable driving experience to anyone willing to push on. In more normal driving situations, the 508 Fastback performs admirably, settling down both on the motorway and in town. The auto box makes life effortless in heavy traffic, and it tends to be in the right gear too. At speed on open roads, the top gears keep revs down, improving efficiency and refinement. It's a smooth and flexible powertrain.
The Peugeot's ride is very good, with a solidity to the set-up that instils confidence when cornering. Peugeot has long had a reputation for fine handling cars, and the 508 looks to follow in that line. The ride is a little harsher than might be expected, but the stiffness in the springs means that the 508 offers a sharp handling set-up. The steering is quick and precise, helped by Peugeot’s small steering wheel, which some dislike but I find a fantastic feature. It helps make the car far more agile than it might otherwise be, and helps create an engaging driving experience. The Peugeot does transmit some harsh lumps and bumps through to the cabin, so the 508 isn't as refined a ride as some rivals. It handles better than most however, so some trade off is expected. It's fine in most situations, and drives very well on motorways where the general lack of large pot-holes means the 508 proves a comfortable cruiser.
In recent years, there has been quite a renaissance for the humble saloon. Granted, they have evolved a little to incorporate some coupe-inspired design cues, but where the likes of the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra/Insignia were once everywhere, the normal saloon has certainly suffered in the trend for crossovers and SUVs. Some manufacturers are fighting back however, with Peugeot's 508 Fastback joining the likes of the VW Arteon and Kia Stinger in offering mass-market saloons with desirable styling. The 508 is a great design in my eyes, and really gets noticed. the test car was black, but a red or similar shows some of the details better, such as black gloss panel joining the rear lights, or the cuts in the front bumpers for the LED running lights. In any colour though, it's quite the looker. The sleek shape does have an effect on interior space, with passengers in the rear seats likely to prefer a more conventionally-styled saloon in terms of head room. Average-sized adults and shorter will have no issues,, but there's no where near the space for a six-footer behind a six-footer that you get in some other saloons. Equally, boot space isn't on a par with rival conventional saloons, but it's still a usable space for most drivers - and there's a 508 SW estate should buyers prioritise rear head room and load area.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The 508 is the latest model to feature Peugeot's i-Cockpit system. It's a set-up I love, with the previously mentioned small steering wheel and instruments sitting above - rather than behind - it on the dash. The instruments come in one wide binnacle, with a large customisable screen. It's not as sophisticated as VW's system for example, but works very well regardless. The infotainment system again lacks a little polish in terms of resolution and responsiveness, but again, it works fine. What is really nice are the little touches such as the piano key short-cuts for the menus, and a dashboard design that focuses on the driver. The seating position and seats are comfortable and supportive. Materials used throughout are decent rather than excellent, but higher-trim levels get some lovely surface details and soft-touch materials.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Peugeot's official fuel economy figure for the 508 Fastback with the 225hp PureTech petrol engine tested is 42.2 MPG. It's a reasonable figure for what is a fairly powerful petrol engine, and thanks to the eight-speed automatic gearbox, proves pretty frugal in real-world conditions too. At the end of my time with it, the Peugeot was averaging 38.6 MPG, but longer runs were getting that even closer to the official figure. It's a car that is very comfortable at motorway pace thanks to the top couple of gears allowing for low rpms. Tax comes in at a first year cost of £205 - included in the OTR - and then the standard rate of £145 per year.
Peugeot's PureTech petrol engine has won a number of awards, offering a good level of performance and efficiency in a compact size. There is a drive mode select system on the 508 Fastback, which allows drivers to switch to Eco mode. This improves the efficiency of the auxiliary systems, plus reduces throttle response, and changes the automatic gearbox settings to optimise shifts for economy.
The 508 has a good level of equipment, but is certainly not pitched as a bargain model. It nicely undercuts premium four-door coupes, and competes well with the VW and Kia. There are four core trim levels - Active, Allure, GT Line, and GT - with the test model sitting in the last of these levels. Standard to all are Peugeot's i-Cockpit system, with the driver's digital display and 8-inch touchscreen infotainment set-up. It includes Bluetooth and USB connectivity, DAB, navigation, and Apple CarPlay / Android Auto. Dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, leather steering wheel, automatic headlights and wipers, and 17-inch alloys are also fitted. Top of the range GT trim adds wireless phone charging, sport pack, rear privacy glass, electric front seats, leather trim, 18-inch alloys, GT design details, premium Focal audio system, active system, LED headlights, and electric tailgate.
The Peugeot 508 Fastback is a stylish and reasonably practical model. It trades off some outright practicality for looks, but not too much to influence decisions for most buyers. A strong petrol engine combines with good driving dynamics to allow the 508 to be an engaging car to drive which, along with the design, will convince plenty of drivers to get behind the wheel.
Model tested: Peugeot 508 Fastback GT PureTech 225PS
Engine / CO2: 225hp petrol / 117 g/km
Trim grades: Active, Allure, GT Line, GT
On-road price: From £26,030. Price as tested: £36,735
Warranty: Three years / unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars