Previously ‘medium’ cars will in future carry the mantle of large cars and are likely to attract increasing buyer interest when, or if, the current SUV bubble ever bursts and traditional passenger cars come back into fashion.
Among the jostlers is Peugeot with the largest model in its range, the 508. It’s sold in sedan and station wagon format, the latter a large spacious vehicle that will suit many buyers’ needs. Indeed the wagon fits perfectly into the idea known as the ‘grand touring’ segment.
Peugeot 508 has been on sale here since mid-2011 where it effectively replaced two previous models, the smaller 407 and the larger 607. It was given a mid-life update in September 2015 including some styling tweaks that have given it a bolder look although it remains conservative enough to suit its target market.
Three variants are available, in increasing levels of equipment named Active, Allure and GT. The entry-level active is powered by a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol while Allure and GT each have 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engines but with different levels of tune.
Potential buyers should note that the GT models are only available on special order.
The front of the 508 has a tall, flat bonnet above an almost vertical ‘Peugeot corporate’ grille that’s highlighted by the iconic Peugeot Lion badge. The headlamps incorporate LED elements and daytime running lights. The large rear bumper also adds to the angular appearance and the rear lights have a square, imposing look.
Overall it’s a neat, unfussy design that is likely to appeal to the conservative buyer.
There’s plenty of interior room with front-wheel drive freeing up extra space in both the rear centre seat and the boot – space that’s stolen by the layout of the RWD Commodore and Falcon.
The Peugeot sedan has 497 litres of boot space, expandable to 1533 litres with the rear seatbacks folded while the wagon has 612 and 1817 litres respectively.
The seats are comfortable and supportive although we found them a little lower than we prefer, even when at their highest position. The GT models get leather sports seats with contrasting red stitching and a massage function for the driver’s seat
The twin front drinkholders are of the pop-out variety from the centre of the dashboard, they go partly block the touchscreen when in use.
Other buttons and knobs are logically-placed and functional.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Peugeot is progressively upgrading its engines to meet Euro 6 requirements and the 508 GT is the latest model to get the improved fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions benefits of these standards. Power and torque are 133 kW (at 3750 rpm) and 400 Nm (at 2000 revs) respectively.
The new 2.0-litre BlueHDi engine has factory-tested fuel consumption of just 4.4 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle with emissions at 114 grams per 100 kilometres. With its 72-litre fuel tank this equates to a possible 1636 km trip without refuelling.
The 1.6-litre e-THP turbo-petrol is also a Euro 6 unit with outputs of 121 kW and 240 Nm, consumption of 5.6 L/100 km and emissions of 130 g/km.
The 508 Allure has an older, less efficient, Euro 5 engine with less performance (120 kW and 340 Nm), higher fuel usage (5.7 L/100km) and more emissions (149 g/km).
All models use a new lightweight design of Aisin six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Standard safety in both models include six airbags; enhanced ABS brakes; stability and traction control; LED daytime running lights and foglamps; blind-spot monitoring; available parallel parking space measurement and hill start assist. There’s also a seat to roof retractable cargo net on the Touring wagon.
The GT adds colour head-up display (optional in Allure), all-LED headlamps and tyre-pressure sensors.
Infotainment features are displayed on a 7.0-inch multifunction touchscreen and include satellite navigation; reversing camera; and 8GB of storage space. Bluetooth pairing is reasonably intuitive, there’s also a USB and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
Our most recent test was in the 2.0-litre diesel 508 Allure. While it’s clearly aimed at the luxury market we found it to have reasonably good handling when pushed hard.
As we’ve come to expect from any Peugeot noise suppression is outstanding, an important factor in the type of long distance travel for which the 508 is designed.
While it is essentially a cruiser the 508 retains the traditional Peugeot ride and handling qualities so it’s still an enjoyable car to drive especially when the Sport option is activated to tighten up the suspension, steering and transmission.
During our week-long test we were able to average fuel consumption in the high sixes, around 20 per cent above the listed level but still impressive given the size of the car.
Australians typically pigeon-hole their car brands and Peugeot traditionally sits in the ‘small’ slot, meaning that models such as the 508 don’t attract much attention. So, despite its elegant looks, comfort and outstanding performance/efficiency balance, sales of the 508 have been negligible, less than one per cent of its category so far in 2016.
Which is a real shame because larger Peugeots have long been one of our first choices for comfortable and economical long distance travel. We did several inter-city trips in the now superseded 407 Touring diesel and would have no hesitation in doing the same in the new 508 GT, especially with the claimed ability to travel, for example, from Sydney to Adelaide without refuelling.
AT A GLANCE
Active 1.6-litre turbo-diesel four-door sedan: $36,990 (automatic)
Allure 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-door sedan: $45,990 (automatic)
GT 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-door sedan: $57,790 (automatic)
Allure Touring 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $48,990 (automatic)
GT 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $60,790 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Peugeot dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Peugeot 508 Allure 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-door sedan)
Capacity: 1.997 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 120 kW @ 3750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 340 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.7 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 149 g/km
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4792 mm
Wheelbase: 2817 mm
Width: 1853 mm
Height: 1456 mm
Turning Circle: 11.9 metres
Kerb Mass: 1520 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 72 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Three years / 100,000 km