David Motton

See other tow car reviews written by David Motton

The Practical Caravan Peugeot 508 review reveals a spacious family saloon that can comfortably and very capably tow a wide range of four-berth caravans

Overview

On paper, the Peugeot 508 HDi 140 Allure looks to be a fairly promising prospect. It’s packed with kit and the diesel engine should provide a good balance of performance and economy, key considerations when deciding what tow car to buy.

In our comprehensive Practical Caravan tow car test, we wanted to find out whether the Peugeot 508 would meet our criteria for a reliable family saloon.

In order for it to do so, it would have to prove that it can tow a typical four-berth caravan comfortably, with stability at motorway speeds and should have enough muscle to pull the caravan on hilly roads, too.

Space, comfort and economy would be monitored as well.

Towing

The Peugeot 508 has promising technical specifications. The legal towing limit of 1775kg is well above the car’s kerbweight of 1618kg, which gives an 85% match figure of 1375kg.

Hitched to a Swift Expression 442 caravan with a maximum technically permissible laden mass (MTPLM) of 1250kg, the Peugeot proved stable. At the motorway limit, the 508 towed straight and true, and rarely needed any steering corrections. 

In the lane-change test, the suspension allowed a little body roll, but we’ve no complaints about the car’s grip or ability to pull the caravan straight after an emergency swerve.

Our Peugeot test car had only covered 2000 miles and the engine still felt tight, which could be why our expert testers did not feel that they had experienced the 508’s full 140bhp or 240lb ft of torque. For example, pulling from 30-60mph took 11.6 seconds, which is respectable, but not outstanding. 

However, more miles won’t make any difference to the 508’s high gearing. We sometimes needed to change down to fifth on motorway inclines.

If you need to stop and start again on a steep slope, the Peugeot 508 won’t let you down. The electronic parking brake held the outfit steady first time, every time. It released smoothly, and the saloon pulled the Swift to the top of the hill without fuss. It tackled the reverse ascent just as ably. 

A technical problem prevented us from recording stopping distances, but the brakes felt strong and capable. All told, the Peugeot proved to be an excellent tow car.

Everyday driving

During our Peugeot 508 test, it soon became clear that this model makes a fine everyday car as well as a reliable tug, especially if you spend a lot of time on the motorway. The engine is quiet at speed and although there’s a little wind noise, it’s not obtrusive. 

The suspension is firm and, while it’s not altogether unforgiving, the 508 isn’t as fluid over rough surfaces as a Volkswagen Passat, for example.

On country roads, the 508 is pleasant to drive rather than a pleasure. It corners tidily, but the light steering offers little feedback. However, it certainly packs sufficient punch for decisive overtaking, which is good news. 

Overall, the Peugeot 508 is refined and comfortable enough, despite the firm ride.

Space

Take a look at the cabin of the Peugeot 508 and you’ll see an upmarket interior that is thoughtfully designed. However, our review team experienced some bothersome reflections in the windscreen and rear window on bright days. The sat-nav and stereo are controlled by a rotary dial behind the gear lever, similar to the Audi MMI system.

The 508 boasts ample headroom in front and – despite a bit less legroom than, say, the Kia Optima – most drivers should be able to get comfortable in the commendably supportive seats.

Passengers in the rear seats are catered for reasonably well in this Peugeot saloon, with leg and headroom and air vents.  

The boot has a 473-litre capacity, but that can be extended by lowering one or both sides of the split/fold rear seats – the catches are on top of the seat backs. The larger load floor is not flat, although if that’s a priority, you probably won’t be shopping for a four-door saloon.

Running costs

The version of the Peugeot 508 that we reviewed for this test is the top-of-the-range Allure. The price is high, but haggling should reduce the price gap significantly.

The Peugeot promises excellent fuel economy of 61.4mpg on the combined cycle. However, around our towing economy route, it achieved a respectable 24.9. 

Because the 508 is in insurance group 25, premiums will boost your outlays. After three years or 36,000 miles, it retains 37% of its original value.

Technical specs

Engine size1997 cc
Kerbweight1618 kg
85% KW1375 kg
Towball limit75 kg
Maximum towing limit1775 kg
Power140.0 bhp
Torque240.0 lb ft
Official MPG61.4 mpg
CO2119 g/km
30-60mph11.6 seconds

Verdict

The Peugeot 508 has plenty going for it as a tow car, getting the nod from us during the Practical Caravan test. It may not be the fastest when accelerating on tow, but it is fast enough. 

Our test car’s engine may not have had enough time to be run in, because the reviewers felt they were not getting the most from it. What’s more important here, though, is that the 508 proved stable at speed and tackled the hill-start test without fuss. 

The towing limit is an impressive 1775kg, making it capable of towing a wide range of tourers. 

Just remember that you should never tow more than the car’s kerbweight and, for safe and stable towing, the leading caravanning clubs recommend – especially for newcomers to caravanning – that the tourer should not weigh more than 85% of the tow car’s kerbweight.

Space is limited for passengers or their luggage in the 508, but the Peugeot is far from cramped. On a long drive, the hushed cabin and refined engine make this a good car for long journeys.

You won’t be surprised, therefore, to learn that we approved of the Peugeot 508.

Conclusion

Pros

  • It's kerbweight and high towing limit make it a match for many caravans
  • It tows straight and true at motorway speeds
  • All passengers get enough space and air vents
  • It did well in our lane-change test

Cons

  • It has firm suspension and isn't fluid over rough surfaces
  • The load floor is not flat when the rear seats are folded
  • The windscreen and rear window are susceptible to glare
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