Welcome to the world of Peugeot, one of the busiest of all the motor manufacturers.

It’s all go. New 208 is here and doing well. The 2008 has gone down a storm and 308 has just been crowned the European Car of the Year, while the new city car 108 is on its way.

It means Peugeot has renewed its fleet of small and medium cars in just two years and it has its youngest ever model range.

Time for a rest? Not a chance. Peugeot has another flurry of models up its corporate sleeve.

Tested here, though, is its biggest challenge yet. The 508 aims to do what few Peugeots have done before: to be a real success among the big boys.

Too often Peugeots have triumphed in the small and medium markets but it has rarely taken on the Fords and Vauxhalls with a big saloon or estate in the same way.

That’s the job of the 508 which has evolved from the 407 range.

Since it first appeared in April, 2011, the 508 has established itself as a respected car, notably in the company car market based on features such as elegant styling, good driving characteristics, comfort, quality and durability with class leading environmental credentials.

In fact, Peugeot is enjoying a shift upmarket with premium models like the 508 in growing demand. So, how does the 508 shape up? Well, the 407 was a neat and distinctive model but the 508 is sleeker and more stylish on the outside and plusher on the inside.

The long wheelbase means that there is lots of interior space up front, in the back and in the boot. The seats feel supportive and comfortable and the driving position is also good. You really couldn’t fault the 508 much here.

It’s pretty well-equipped, too, as you would imagine for a car which has corporate sales its sights. It comes with a wealth of equipment including daytime running lights, air conditioning, USB connection, high beam assistance, keyless entry, head-up display and a new suspension system for high levels of road holding and ride comfort. There are five grades for the 508 including Access, Active, Allure, GT and a fleet-targeted SR model.

The 508 manages to keep its graceful composure while it’s on the move and this Peugeot is smooth, comfortable and quiet to drive. There is little in terms of road, wind and engine noise helped of course by a standard fit acoustic windscreen and dampers on the front axle to reduce engine vibration.

The 508 comes with five diesel and three petrol options including an economical 1.6-litre e-HDi model and a range-topping 2.2-litre HDi. The 2.0-litre HDi diesel model as tested can make 60mph in 9.2 seconds and has a top speed of 139mph. Good C02 emissions and economy haven’t been sacrificed and the 508 offers a blend of economy and performance, which makes it appealing to company car buyers. It is a big car very much suited to motorways and fast roads, but it is capable of good ride and handling on twister routes, too.

There is plenty of front end grip which allows you to corner with confidence. The 508 feels agile and handles surprisingly well for a bigger car – thanks to its new sharpened suspension. As well as the option of either an estate or saloon bodystyle, the 508 comes with two suspension configurations. I like the light steering but some critics feel it could do with more ‘feel’.

The 508 is a big improvement over the 407 and represents a leap forward in this area for Peugeot. It follows on from the good form from a number of key new Peugeots of late.

For a car in its sector the 508 is fairly fuel efficient, it is also attractive, practical and good to drive. This with its level of specification and comfort should enable fleet drivers to enjoy long drives in the 508.


Peugeot 508 Active 2.0 HDi 163

PRICE: £24,045. Range starts at £19,545
ENGINE: A 1,997cc, four cylinder 163bhp engine with a six-speed automatic gearbox
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 139mph, 0 to 60mph in 9.2 seconds
COSTS: town 37.2mpg; country 61.4mpg; combined 49.6mpg
EMISSIONS: 149g/km
WARRANTY: Three years’ unlimited warranty