By EWAN KENNEDY in Majorca.
Peugeot 508 is aimed at a difficult market segment in Australia, that of large family cars. To date sales of the Peugeot 508 have been modest, but that may change in early 2015 when a revised 508 arrives downunder.
Unusually in a facelifted model, the 508 has actually been increased in length, and the stylists have made it look slightly larger than it really is. Peugeot 508 now appears to be in the Commodore and Falcon class in outward appearance.
Interestingly, we can thank our Chinese neighbours for this larger Peugeot 508. During our time in Majorca for the international launch of the car we chatted to Chinese motoring journos. They explained that buyers in their country like large, imposing cars and requested the changed appearance. Peugeots are sold in huge numbers in China and the company is building a new factory there.
The big Peugeot has plenty of interior room as it has front-wheel drive to free up extra space in the rear compartment and boot. It’s sold as a sedan and a station wagon, again pitching it against the big Aussie family cars.
New 508’s style has been achieved by fitting a longer bonnet and a more upright radiator grille with a large Peugeot Lion in the centre. There’s also a bigger rear bumper with a squarer appearance.
The headlights are smaller than before and are complex units incorporating LED elements and daytime running lights, all in chic French arrangement. The rear lights have a squarer, more imposing look.
Inside, the design remains much the same as currently, but changes to colours and materials have updated the appearance. It’s certainly very French, very Peugeot and we really like the look.
A major change under the bonnet is the use of a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine. This all-new, ultra-modern unit is part of Peugeot’s downsizing philosophy to reduce fuel consumption and emissions without any decrease in performance. Turbo-diesel engines and a hybrid are also available although the hybrid may not reach Australia for some time, if at all.
We spent some time behind the wheel of both the 1.6 petrol and a 2.0 diesel and came away extremely impressed with the sheer grunt and superb smoothness of the petrol unit. There’s nothing wrong with the diesel, but this all-new 1.6 is an exceptional piece of engineering and we fell in love with it.
All engines are likely to have a new design of six-speed automatic transmission beside them when imported to Australia, but a six-speed manual may be offered as an option.
Though the Peugeot 508 is aimed very much at the luxury market we found it to have reasonably good handling when punted hard at the mountains of Majorca. Keen drivers will hit the Sport button to tighten up the suspension, steering and the new automatic transmission and get around bends with confidence. But in reality most owners will never come anywhere near the speeds we used.
It’s too early to talk about specifications and pricing of Australian imports, we will bring these to you, together with drive impressions on Australian roads when the new Peugeot 508 reaches us in the first quarter of 2015.
Will the Peugeot 508 be able to fill some of the gap left by Holden and Ford when they stop making large cars in Australia in 2017? It’s too early to do anything but speculate, but Aussies have long loved large sedans and wagons and the French machine certainly provides a solid alternative. Hyundai, with its about to be launched Genesis large car, also has an eye on providing Australian buyers with an alternative.
Interesting times are ahead in the family car field; stay tuned and we will bring you more news as it breaks.