Garry Fabian reviews the Peugeot 508.
The Peugeot 508 heralds the great French marque’s first foray into the premium sector in decades.
Peugeot, which celebrated its 200th anniversary last year, is clearly fed up with our more recent perception of it.
In 2010 it gave us sexy with its sensational RCZ, now its bringing discreet luxury to the table.
This new French saloon is undeniably handsome.
It’s large and roomy, which gives it an immediate presence on the road, yet it feels elegant and balanced.
The car’s styling fits neatly into Peugeot’s new corporate look, overseen by head designer Gilles Vidal – the front grille has been made to look as it if is floating, giving the whole an impression of lightness, while the word “Peugeot” appears almost hidden under the bonnet lip – an allusion to the marque’s pre-war classics.
Inside the Peugeot 508 there is no sign of the brittle plastics and flimsy controls that dog so many down-market motors.
Here, it’s all soft-touch leatherette and rubbery nubs. It feels top dollar. And it rides superbly – supple and assured.
The latest update has seen a few of the features enhanced, but maintains the overall concepts that have been the mainstay of the model.
Most will agree that the 508′s face is improved by the shrinking of the gaping grille that has identified the marque these past few years.
But this is not stand-out styling, the inspiration of the designers- original sketches lost to the need to save weight and reduce aerodynamic drag.
It is a car that impresses with its large body shape, and the first surprise is that it is powered by a 1.6 lt engine. (it also comes with a 2.0lt diesel engine version). But once you start it up, it produces very impressive power that makes you forget all about the size of the power plant under the bonnet.
The Peugeot 508 is defiantly eco-aware, too: none of its petrol-engine variants are larger than 1.6 litres and there is a choice of three economical diesels. The smallest, a 115 kW 1.6, produces only the faintest whiff of CO2 – 109g per km – and it will do just over 7 lts/100km.
The 508 noses into bends with pleasing eagerness for a car this big, resists understeer well and maintains good body control too. This is even more true of the GT, which has more sophisticated front suspension and a sportier set-up, but the somewhat feel-less steering lets it drift.
Generous space front and rear makes both body styles good family cars, even if the back-bench could provide more thigh support.
The Peugeot 508′s quiet nature adds to a sophisticated aura.
Apart from needing slightly more revs than you’d expect to get moving the turbocharged 1.6 petrol is convincing, and a sophisticated engine.
The awkward electronic handbrake however will sometimes disturb the driver’s calm.
Peugeot has lately been on a quality drive, improving the calibre of its cabin furnishings and the dependability of its cars. Early reports suggest this is succeeding, although it has a way to go before it matches Japanese standards. But finely styled instruments and some interestingly finished decorative inserts give it a lift.
There’s plenty of room front and rear in this car, and a big boot with easy-fold rear seats.
A major frustration for high mileage travellers will be the lack of storage in the centre console, which comes either with one small recess or none at all. You get a cubby beneath the armrest, as well as a range of other storage areas.
The range of standard features is generous. “Key in pocket” remote locking with folding exterior mirrors, push button start and stop, quality sound and climate control system, proximity sensors, well set out controls and instrumentation all add the ambience of the Peugeot 508.
NUTS & BOLTS
Engine: 1.6 lt LT4, producing 115 kW, 240Nm, 0-100 9.2 seconds
Transmission: six-speed automatic.
Price: $35,990 – $42,490, 2.0 lt diesel $42,990- $52,990
Warranty: 3 Year/100,000km