There is an awful lot to like about the Peugeot 508, not least should you compare it with the 407 that went before it. At a stroke Peugeot’s fleet-centric car has gone from a vehicle you’d grudgingly accept being given to drive to meetings for a couple of years, to a car you’d actively seek out on a company car list. It’s a far more mature, sophisticated package than the Peugeot that went before it.

Does it set fire to the class, though? Not quite. For all its excellence, there are still areas where its rivals narrowly pip it. A Ford Mondeo is more engaging, a Volkswagen Passat is a more relaxing distance companion and a Skoda Superb more accommodating. Even the range-topping 508 GT, with its more sophisticated suspension, can’t change that.

The 508 contains a fine blend of appealing qualities

And little frustrations abound elsewhere, taking the edge off what would otherwise be a fulsome test recommendation. When other manufacturers produce fluent and responsive automatic transmissions, why can’t Peugeot? When others offer greater freedom of choice of buyers about which engine, gearbox and trim to combine, why not here? And when the French manufacturer can get its driving positions right in almost every class now, how does it manage to get it slightly wrong in the case of such an important volume-selling model?

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And yet despite a few shortcomings, the 508 contains a fine blend of appealing qualities. It’s the classiest, most polished mainstream Peugeot for years. And since it suggests, albeit quietly, that France’s lion is continuing to recover its strength when it comes to building distinguished driver’s cars, the 508 is welcome indeed.

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