Motorcheck Used Car Guide: Peugeot 508

Years built: 2011 to 2018

Bodystyles: Family saloon and estate

What is it?

This is not the much-publicised new Peugeot 508, a car that’s more of a four-door coupe than it is a saloon, and which fancies its chances up against the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. No, this is the older 508 model — the car that replaced the 407 — and it’s much more conventional, a rival to the likes of the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat. It’s more conservative than the new 508, but then again it’s much more practical too, and makes for an excellent family workhorse, especially in SW estate form.

Which one should I buy?

There’s a bit of a division in the Peugeot 508 in that the model was substantially facelifted in 2014, which didn’t change the styling much (hardly at all, in fact)  but which did give it an improved cabin, and some updated engines so it’s well worth buying post-2014 if your budget will stretch to it.

Beyond that, the 508 was always a pretty simple car. Unlike the new one, the styling is relatively understated, but still quite handsome and — as is so often the case — it looks much better as an  SW estate than it does as a four-door saloon. It’s much more practical too, with a 512-litre boot (which expands to 1,515-litres when you fold the back seats down).

To drive, the 508 is best described as smooth. It’s not as engaging for the driver as those far-off memories of the old 405 would have you hoping, and its ride quality could be a touch softer around town, but for the most part it’s an excellent laid-back cruiser that munches miles with ease.

All 508s were well equipped, so even in basic form you should expect two-zone air conditioning and cruise control, and post-2014 cars came with a central touchscreen which is useful if you want to connect your phone and can’t live without podcasts as you drive.

You’ll mostly find 508s fitted with diesel engines; either the 115hp 1.6-litre HDI or the 2.0-litre 150hp HDI (older versions used a 140hp engine). Both are fine — the 1.6 can easily break the 60mpg barrier in daily driving if you take things easy, while the 2.0-litre is probably better for longer journeys, and still easily beats 50mpg. There was a range-topping 180hp diesel too, but those are thinner on  the ground, and good luck finding one with a petrol engine, although a 1.6-litre turbo with 156hp was technically available.

For the best value, go for as late a model as you can find as Peugeot stuffed the 508 with extra equipment and chopped the price as the new model approached in mid-2018.

How much should I spend?

Late-plate 508s will still command more than €20,000 as an asking price, but wind back to 2016 or early 2017 and you’ll easily pick one up for less than that.

Here’s one we found:

2017 Peugeot 508 SW 1.6 HDI, one owner, 60,000km, €18,495 from a Peugeot main dealer.

What goes wrong?

The 508 manages to swerve the old cliches about French cars being fragile, and indeed Peugeot has just recently been rewarded by industry experts JD Power with a commendation for quality and reliability.

The most common reported issues are to do with electric and ancillary systems — air conditioning, stereos, and minor electrical items can give trouble. The engines are robust and long-lived, but only if they’re properly serviced and cared for, and both HDI diesel engines need a steady diet of high-grade synthetic oil at service time.

There was a recall to replace faulty wiring associated with the ignition and starter motor, so check to make sure that this has been carried out on any 508 you’re looking at buying, an obviously as with any roomy four-door saloon, check its history to make sure that it hasn’t been used as a taxi or airport hire car in the past.

The only other issue is with leaky boot seals letting in water, so check the boot carpet and under the spare wheel to make sure everything’s dry, although this is an issue that mostly only seems to affect older 508 models.

Anything else?

If you feel that the standard 508 isn’t posh enough, then there is the option of the 508 RXH. This was originally designed as an expensive diesel hybrid, which combined an automatic gearbox with a rear axle driven by an electric motor, giving it four-wheel drive and ultra-low emissions. It was never a big seller, mostly because it was too expensive and came only as an estate, but Peugeot later introduced a diesel-only version, which did away with the hybrid bit, and lowered the price, but which kept the RXH’s chunky bodykit. Worth tracking down if you fancy something a bit out of the ordinary.

And when you’ve found your perfect Peugeot 508 don’t forget to get it history checked by motorcheck.ie.