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Peugeot 508 2020 review: Sportswagon

Peugeot wants to win hearts and minds, and eyes, with the pretty 508 Sportwagon
EXPERT RATING
7.5
The new Peugeot 508 is a bolt from the blue after its conservative predecessor. Beautifully styled, packed with stuff - and with a price tag to match - the sleek Sportwagon seeks to lure you from the standard choice of SUV into a more traditional station wagon.

Big Peugeots are a proper rarity in this country. Decades ago, they were made here, but in these SUV-heavy times, a big French sedan or wagon passes the market by with barely a blip. A personal point of irritation for me is how small an impression Peugeot makes on the local automotive landscape, because its 3008/5008 pair are excellent. Why don't people see that?

Speaking of cars that people don't understand, this week I was riding that fading star of the automotive constellation; the station wagon. Peugeot's new 508 Sportwagon, to be exact, all 4.79 metres of it.

 

Peugeot 508 2020: GT
Safety rating
Engine Type1.6L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.3L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$55,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

Both the Sportwagon and Fastback come in just one specification, the GT. A Fastback will set you back $53,990 while the wagon is a couple of grand more, at $55,990. At that price, you expect - and get - a wagonload of stuff.

The 508 Sportswagon has 18-inch alloys. The 508 Sportswagon has 18-inch alloys.

Like 18-inch alloys, a 10-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, front and reversing cameras, keyless entry and start, active cruise control, powered front seats with heating and massaging functions, sat nav, auto parking (steering), auto LED headlights with auto high beam, Nappa leather seats, auto wipers, a solid safety package and a space-saver spare.

You'll get auto LED headlights with auto high beam. You'll get auto LED headlights with auto high beam.

Peugeot's media system inhabits the 10-inch touchscreen. The hardware is frustratingly slow on occasions - and worse when you want to use the climate controls - but is nice to look at. The 10-speaker stereo has DAB and you can use Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The stereo is quite good, as it turns out.

It has a solid safety package and a space-saver spare. It has a solid safety package and a space-saver spare.

The screen's clever organ-key shortcuts are very cool and lovely to touch, which does make the system a little easier to use, but the three-finger prod on the screen is even better, bringing up all of the menu options you might need. Still, the hardware itself is the cabin's weakest point.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

Like the underrated 3008 and 5008, the 508's exterior design is terrific. While I do find the 3008 SUV's schnoz a bit much, the 508's is fantastic. Those LED driving lights form a pair of fangs slicing down into the bumper, and they look brilliant. The wagon, as ever, is also slightly better proportioned than the already pretty Fastback.

The wagon, as ever, is also slightly better proportioned than the already pretty Fastback. The wagon, as ever, is also slightly better proportioned than the already pretty Fastback.

The interior feels like it's from a much more expensive car (yes, I know this one isn't exactly cheap). The Nappa leather, the metal switches and the inventive i-Cockpit all conspire to create a very avant-garde feel. It feels great and with judicious use of textures and materials, the sense of expense is palpable. The i-Cockpit is an acquired taste - CarsGuide colleague Richard Berry and I will one day fight to the death over this configuration - but I like it.

It feels great and with judicious use of textures and materials, the sense of expense is palpable. It feels great and with judicious use of textures and materials, the sense of expense is palpable.

The little steering wheel feels racy, but I will concede that the less upright driving position does mean the wheel can block the instruments.

Speaking of the instruments, the excellent, configurable digital dashboard is a lot of fun, with several different display modes that are, on occasion, quite inventive, and useful, like the one that cuts down on extraneous information.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The front seats are very comfortable - I wonder if Toyota saw these and said "We want some of them." Also up front is a pair of cupholders that are actually useful, so it seems the French have finally broken on the issue and gone with utility instead of the previous, passive-aggressive fitment of small-diameter, shallow units. 

The front seats are very comfortable. The front seats are very comfortable.

You can store your phone, even large format ones, under the sideways-opening flap. In a truly unique moment, I found that if you let the larger iPhone slip down to rest flat on the tray's base, you may need to seriously consider disassembling the entire car to get it out again. Another of my niche concerns, but my fingers are fine now, thanks for asking.

Rear-seat passengers get a pretty good deal, too, with better headroom than on the Fastback. Rear-seat passengers get a pretty good deal, too, with better headroom than on the Fastback.

The bin under the armrest is mildly useful and contains a USB port, in addition to the one awkwardly placed at the base of centre stack.

Rear-seat passengers get a pretty good deal, too, with better headroom than on the Fastback, as the roof continues on a flatter curve. Unlike some carmakers, the diamond stitching extends to the rear seats, which are reasonably comfortable, too. There are also air vents and two more USB ports in the rear. I wish Peugeot would stop putting that cheap chrome surround on the USB ports, though - they look like an afterthought.

  • Behind the seats is a 530-litre boot. Behind the seats is a 530-litre boot.
  • The boot expands to 1780 litres with all the seats down. The boot expands to 1780 litres with all the seats down.

Behind the seats is a 530-litre boot, which expands to 1780 litres with all the seats down.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

Peugeot's 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder makes an appearance under the bonnet, with an impressive 165kW and a slightly mismatched 300Nm. Power reaches the road via an eight-speed automatic driving the front wheels.

Peugeot's 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder outputs an impressive 165kW and a slightly mismatched 300Nm. Peugeot's 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder outputs an impressive 165kW and a slightly mismatched 300Nm.

The 508 is rated to tow 750kg unbraked and 1600kg braked.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Peugeot's own testing against Australian standards produced a combined cycle figure of 6.3L/100km. I spent a week with the car in mostly suburban running and could only manage 9.8L/100km, which is still not bad going for this much car, really.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The 508 arrives from France with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB to 140km/h with pedestrian and cyclist detection, traffic-sign recognition, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and driver attention detection.

Irritatingly, it doesn't have reverse cross traffic alert.

Child-seat anchorages include two ISOFIX points and three top-tether points.

The 508 scored five ANCAP stars when tested in September 2019.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Like French rival Renault, Peugeot offers a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with five years of roadside assist.

A generous service interval of 12 months/20,000km is good, but the cost of servicing is a bit of a problem. The good news is that you know what you're paying over the first five years of ownership. The bad news is it's just over $3500, meaning an average of $700 per year. Swinging the pendulum back is the fact that the servicing includes things like fluids and filters that others don't, so it is a bit more comprehensive.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

It might seem like a lot of car to be pushed along with a 1.6-litre engine, but the Peugeot has two things going for it. The first is that the engine is quite powerful for its size, even if the torque figure doesn't quite match it. But then you see that the car weighs just under 1400kg, which isn't a lot.

The relatively light weight (a Mazda6 wagon carries another 200kg) means a smart, if not striking, 0-100km/h time of 8.1 seconds. 

The engine is quite powerful for its size. The engine is quite powerful for its size.

Once you spend some time with the car, you realise that everything is just about right. The five driving modes are actually different, for example, with distinctive differences in suspension, engine and transmission settings.

Comfort is very comfortable indeed, with a smooth engine response - I thought it a bit laggy - and a plush ride. The long wheelbase certainly helps, and is shared with the Fastback. The car has a limo-like quality to it, quiet and composed, it just slinks around.

Flick it into Sport and the car tenses up nicely but never loses its composure. Some Sport modes are either fundamentally useless (louder, ruins the gearchange) or heavy-handed (six tonnes of steering effort, undriveable throttle). The 508 errs towards maintaining comfort while offering a bit more involvement for the driver through the bends.

It's not meant to be a quick car, but when you put all the pieces together, it does a fine job of fulfilling its intended purpose. It's not meant to be a quick car, but when you put all the pieces together, it does a fine job of fulfilling its intended purpose.

It's not meant to be a quick car, but when you put all the pieces together, it does a fine job of fulfilling its intended purpose.

Verdict

Like all recent Peugeots - and those of two decades ago - this is a car that offers plenty for both driver and passengers. It's very comfortable and quiet, significantly cheaper than German alternatives and yet delivers pretty much everything they do, without having to tick any expensive option boxes.

There are plenty of people who will be seduced by the car's style and smitten by its substance. Turns out I'm one of them.

Pricing guides

$54,990
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$53,990
Highest Price
$55,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GT 1.6L, PULP $53,990 2020 Peugeot 508 2020 GT Pricing and Specs
GT 1.6L, PULP $53,990 2020 Peugeot 508 2020 GT Pricing and Specs
GT 1.6L, PULP $55,990 2020 Peugeot 508 2020 GT Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Price and features7
Design9
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety7
Ownership7
Driving8
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$55,990

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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