Peugeot Australia hopes the 508’s standout looks — in Fastback sedan and Sportwagon shapes alike — will court buyers, despite the large passenger car segment going into freefall as SUVs gobble up the market.
Vive la difference. Certainly one of these elegant French five-doors on your driveway would look less me-too than yet another high-riding SUV.
Peugeot’s gone big on luxury and inclusions, with a price to match. There is just one grade, the loaded GT, priced at $53,990 for the Fastback and $55,990 for the more practical wagon. The latter, Peugeot believes, will snare two-thirds of 508 sales.
Enticements include heated and massaging Nappa leather seats, digital instrument panel, gesture control power tailgate, vast active safety suite, adaptive suspension — and a sea of exterior LED lights, including rear 3D items that perform a merry dance when you unlock the car.
Such high specification helps you to overlook the sole, less brag-worthy engine, a 1.6-litre turbo four, good for 165kW/300Nm.
Mated to a new silky eight-speed automatic, it’s a keen motor when up to speed but its
0-100km/h time of 8.1 seconds (8.2 the wagon) shows it favours economy — 6.3L/100km — over performance.
Give it full throttle from standstill and, after doing something of a lazy Gallic shrug, it gets on with the task. The compensation is in the ride comfort.
Sink into the pattern-stitched leather seats and savour the massaging (I recommend the “cat’s paw” treatment). Select comfort mode from the electronic suspension’s damping menu and the big Pug wafts along in bump-absorbing serenity.
Opt for sports mode, push the 508 in corners and it feels balanced and secure, even if tyre noise from the grippy Michelin rubber spoils the party a tad. The front-driver can even feel a little playful as it changes direction with impressive control.
It’s classified a large sedan but doesn’t feel so big on the road. In either body style it weighs less than 1400kg, roughly the same as a VW Golf, so it isn’t plagued with the cumbersome feel of other large cars.
It doesn’t feel huge inside, for that matter. Front occupants are well catered for but rear adult travellers would expect more leg and head room. If that and a big boot are important, the wagon is the pick with 530L/1780L.
Compare the prices of the rival Holden Commodore, Skoda Superb or smaller Mazda6 and the 508 looks reassuringly expensive. The cabin feels premium enough to trouble prestige brands — not only is it refreshingly styled and beautifully crafted but there is also a quality feel, with carbon-fibre effect trim and soft-touch surfaces.
An aviation-style lever selects gears, silver metallic keys are tapped for screen menus and buttons give pleasing subtle feedback when touched. The steering wheel is go-kart small, clearing the driver’s view of Peugeot’s skinny high-mounted digital dials.
Wireless phone charging is included, although it’s in a fiddly place, and the audio is a belter. Adding to the business class feel, “Boost” and “Relax” ambience modes alter lighting, massage and sound settings.
The 508 can be asked to hold its position between motorway lanes and keep pace with the car in front. There are autonomous emergency braking up to 140km/h, speed sign recognition and blind spot monitor — but no head-up display or rear cross traffic alert.
It could be argued that the 508 would better suit a punchier engine and could do with a cheaper, less luxe-filled grade for those keen on the design but not the $50K-plus price.
Peugeot Australia MD Ben Farlow says: “The market is trending towards higher specification” and in the past Peugeot has “made the mistake of having too many variants”.
The 508 GT, he says, “returns desire to the Lion brand, and it’s a more original and beautiful proposition than the competition”.
He says Peugeot’s long-term aim is to become a premium badge, aided by a strategy of improving dealership locations, customer experience and warranty — and producing more desirable vehicles.
As a halo model, the 508 is a winner, rich in quality and luxury goodies and gorgeous from heritage bonnet to designer boot. It’s also a polished and comfortable drive, if short on thrills. It has prestige clout — and sticker price and running costs to match.
PEUGEOT 508 GT FASTBACK
PRICE $53,990-$55,990 plus on-roads
WARRANTY/SERVICING 5 years/unlimited km, $3507 for 5 years/80,000km
SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, radar cruise control, blind spot detection, lane keep assist, highway positioning assist, driver attention alert, speed limit recognition
ENGINE 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo, 165kW/300Nm
THIRST 6.3L/100km (95 RON)
BOOT 487L/1537L (Fastback)
PRICE Previous range-topping 508 GT Sedan was diesel only, from $59,990 drive-away, making the new, better equipped petrol 508 GT look reasonable value. Peugeot has deleted the cheaper Active and Allure grades. Warranty much improved to five years/unlimited km.
TECH Classy 10-inch centre screen, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, gesture control power tailgate, wireless phone charging, smartphone mirroring, Boost and Relax ambience modes, 360-degree parking camera and lengthy active safety list.
PERFORMANCE The 0-100km/h time is no better than the previous range-topper. The new turbo packs an additional 44kW/60Nm over the deleted 1.6.
DRIVING On average 70kg lighter thanks to aluminium panels and thermoplastic tailgate, helping nimbleness. New eight-speed auto replaces six-speeder. Active suspension gives the option of sport or comfort drive modes.
DESIGN Body is 60mm lower, 80mm shorter, Lion badge moves to the grille and the 508 identifier goes to the bonnet’s leading edge — recalling the classic 504. Adapted from Peugeot’s Instinct concept, LED headlights, DRLs and 3D rear lights are sublime.
Originally published as Brand steps up to take on luxury players