Driven - Peugeot 508 GT

There’s good news at Peugeot – they have taken a quantum leap with their new 508 range. The build quality, driving experience and value are vastly improved. Not that there was a great deal to criticise in the outgoing model, but it was pretty unlikely that a Volkswagen, Audi or Volvo buyer would have been impressed enough to buy one. But that’s changed.

Comparing the quality of build and finish – bodywork, interior, boot and minor details, there’s nothing in it between the 508 and its natural competitors. Outside, the paint is deep and rich, the panel fit is exceptional (as are the commendably narrow panel gaps) and the fit of items such as bumpers and lights leaves nothing to be desired. A good clue to a car’s quality.

The way the thick lower section of the bootlid fits flush with the bumper makes a welcome change to the scooped out section almost every other car has… The short rear guards, sectioned by the tail-lights and bumper is unusual close-up, but from a distance helps give the car a cohesive shape. At the front, the aggressive nose got lots of positive comments during our week with the 508GT. Peugeot has made great strides in dropping their tongue hanging out of the mouth look…

Overall the shape could be described as sleek if a little plain, but at least it won’t ever be accused of being ugly like its predecessor. And the details, such as the lights and wheels are attractive. It has a longer wheelbase than the 407 before it, but a shorter overall length.
Really though, it’s inside where the car really impresses. The quality of fit and the finishes used – as well as the very neat, carefully considered design – really impress. This could be the interior of an Audi. Every surface and control feels good to touch, the styling is excellent and the quality of construction is immediately evident. It all works very nicely – with the sole exception of a lack of cubby holes. There’s nowhere on the console to hold a mobile phone…

The seats are also pretty special. Long seat bases, good adjustability, decent rear space and nicely-trimmed leather upholstery all add up to help make the interior a very pleasant environment. The back seats flips down to make a flat loading space.

Another nice detail inside is the dark lenses on the interior lights, each of which is very smartly designed – and bound to be quickly copied by other car makers.

The 508 GT is the range-topping model, and unusually, especially for a performance model, it’s a diesel. While this may have some people thinking twice, it does make good sense. When you consider that over half the new car sales in Western Europe are diesels these days, and in larger cars, economy is also important, and Peugeot has some very effective turbodiesel engines, why not?

How does it drive? Well, the torque is the key. And there’s plenty at just about anywhere in the rev range and available at any speed. The 2.2-litre HDi engine boasts 450Nm which comfortably gives the car performance of 0-100km/h in 8.2 seconds. The 6-speed automatic transmission is a sweet to operate unit. This package gives superior performance and economy to the previous 2.7-litre V6 which was so admired in the 407.

The GT also benefits from suspension upgrade details like aluminium dual wishbone front end design.

The 508 GTs equipment level also impresses – keyless entry and go, colour head-up display, auto wipers and lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, quad-zone air conditioning, electric park brake and a multi-function steering wheel.

The GT also features a sensor behind the interior mirror which takes in various parameters and assists with the car’s adaptive lighting to maximise light output.

Some of the options are pretty well-priced. Just $500 gets you 19-inch alloy wheels (over the GTs standard 18-inches) and satellite navigation with head-up display is only an additional $1500.

And in the value for money stakes, the 508 stacks up well. The 508 starts at $35,990 for the 1.6 turbo. The GT reviewed here is $52,990 compares favourably with Volkswagen’s newly updated sporty petrol Passat V6 FSI (at $55,990), Alfa Romeo’s 159 Ti 1750 TBi (priced from $54,480), the Volvo S60 D5 (at $51,950) or Audi A4 2.0 TDi ($55,400).

If you haven’t driven a Peugeot for years, I’d recommend taking one of these out on the road – you’ll be impressed.

 Engine type: 4-cylinder 2.2-litre turbodiesel
 Power: 150kW
 Torque: 450Nm
 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
 Performance: 0-100km/h 7.2 seconds
 Price: $52,990 at time of writing
 Text & photos - Paul Blank (copyright)