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Peugeot 508 review

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    The 508 looks good against rivals such as the Camry, but is less convincing against a Superb or a Passat. Photo Gallery

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Paul Gover road tests and reviews the Peugeot 508 at its Australian launch.

Peugeot 508 Allure 3

Any time a carmaker tears six grand out of the bottom line on a new model it's time to pay attention.

When the new model is also a sea-change car for one of the great European brands, there is even more to get you interested. And so we have the all-new Peugeot 508.

It's basically the replacement for the French company's mid-sized 407, but so much has changed - from a starting price at $36,990 to a cabin that's as big as the flagship 607 - that the 508 demands a re-think. The styling is much more conservative, there is a new emphasis on quality, equipment levels have been boosted across the board, and the driving experience is far less quirky than in the past.

It's almost as if Peugeot decided it needed to be more like Toyota to survive in a world where competition as never been tougher and customers expect far more for every dollar they spend.

The 508 has landed as both a four-door sedan and smooth looking station wagon, with a range of petrol and diesel engines and even a GT with the promise of Peugeot-style long-distance express travel.

The price leader is not here yet, but Peugeot expects most buyers to go for the mid-level 508 Allure with a 2.0-litre turbodiesel and a starting price of $39,490. Perhaps with a 50:50 split for wagon buyers, who pay an extra $3000 for the Touring.

"This car takes Peugeot back to its heartland in Australia, but also moves the brand forward," says Ken Thomas, managing direct of Peugeot in Australia, summing the 508 in a single sentence.

VALUE

The easiest way to put the 508 into perspective is to look at the 407 it replaces. The new car is significantly bigger, most importantly in the cabin, and also picks up extra standard equipment including four-zone aircon that's a big bonus for rear-seat passengers.

Equipment varies depending on the model, but some of the good new stuff includes a colour head-up instrument display, front and rear parking radar, efficient new headlamps with 'light tube' daytime lamps, and even a system that can measure a potential parking space and give a verdict on its suitability.

Peugeot says the Australian dollar has helped with pricing from $36,990 through to $52,990 for the GT sedan, but also says the car is cheaper to make. And it has introduced capped-price servicing as extra buyer bait.

It has decided to slide it into the large-car class in Australia, although it could also qualify as a medium contender, which means its closest Euro rival is the Skoda Superb. But it can also be measured against everything from the Mazda6 and Toyota Camry to Falcon and Commodore.

TECHNOLOGY

Development of the 508 began with a rigid new body and all-independent suspension, with things like the parking space system and adaptive Xenon lamps to provide the window dressing.

The really important stuff includes four new engines, both petrol and diesel, with C02 that's down by a claimed 15 per cent over the 407 with similar improvements in overall efficiency.

The basic 1.6-litre petrol makes 115kW/240Nm with 7.1 litres/100km and CO2 of 165grams/km, the 1.6-litre turbodiesel is 82/270/4.4/115, the 2.0-litre turbodiesel is 120/340/5.7/149, and the 2.2-litre turbodiesel is 150/450/10.0/150 and the engine for the GT.

It's no surprise the 508 is front-wheel drive, with a six-speed automatic gearbox that comes with a paddle shift behind a wheel that now houses all the minor controls - instead of having them shotgunned around the dash.

DESIGN

The 407 was a mistake and Peugeot has learned from it. The giant gaping grille has been replaced with a restrained opening that points to a new French face - and is already reflected in an updated 308 - and the body doesn't look like the front and rear were designed by different people. But the 508 is not as uniquely Peugeot as past cars.

At first glance it even looks - whisper it - a bit like a Mitsubishi 380. It is strongly styled and the new dash is more user-friendly, but the back-seat space is only good enough for two Aussie adults despite the boot capacity.

SAFETY

Peugeot says the 508 is the first car built from its new 'Platform 3' and that brings significant safety benefits in a crash. It was developed for the first time for both side barrier and post impacts.

The suite of safety equipment is the standard stuff with ABS and ESP, but the 508 also gets cornering brake control - for added stability when you need to slow in a curve - and hill-start assistance, first seen on off-roaders. It's a five-star car with six airbags as well.

DRIVING

Peugeot tragics - and my experience of the brand runs back to the 203 - will find the 508 a bit bland. But for people who are moving out of a Japanese car, perhaps tempted by Peugeot's new deals for fleets and 'user chooser' buyers, it will have enough personality to give them a bit of flavour without provoking a gag reaction.

My time at the press preview of the 508 is spent mostly in the Allure turbodiesel, that sits in the middle of the lineup, and it gets along well enough, is comfy and quiet, and feels secure and easy to handle in turns.

It's only once I get well out of Melbourne on some long loping roads that I rediscover the sort of long-legged ability which has always set Peugeots apart. There is some annoying thump through the low-profile tyres and some quality glitches - a loose gearknob, one piece of cabin trim that doesn't fit, some wind noise and a rattle in the back door - but the package comes together more convincingly in the sporty GT model.

The styling is nothing special, and the back end even looks a bit Korean, but the 508 is intended to bring new people to Peugeot and it should do the job.

I cannot close without highlighting the incredible number of warning bells and chimes in the car - the 508 seems to have an audio reminder for everything, from an open door to the handbrake, and what starts as a bit of fun quickly becomes annoying.

VERDICT

The 508 is good but not great, effective but not memorable. It's a car that has been driven by a new approach at Peugeot to a new group of customers, and it will definitely give them something to consider.

The price line is very appealing and the 508 makes a strong case against rivals such as the Camry, but is less convincing when it's lined up against a Skoda Superb or a Volkswagen Passat.

It should definitely make big gains for Peugeot in Australia, but it's not the landmark car the brand needs. Perhaps that's the baby 208 that's coming next year . . .

Peugeot 508 Allure

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Price: $42,990
Warranty: 3 years/60,000km
Resale: 44 per cent (407)
Service interval: 12 months/15,000km
Safety: 5-star NCAP
Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel, 120kW/340Nm
Body: Four-door sedan
Weight: 1520kg
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Thirst: 5.7l/100km, diesel, CO2 149g/km

RIVALS

ImageSkoda Superb Ambition- compare this car
image


Price: $41,990
Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel, 125kw/250Nm
Transmission: 6-speed DSG, front-wheel drive
Body: Four-door sedan
Thirst: 6.3L/100km, diesel, CO2 166g/km

 

ImageToyota Aurion Prodigy- compare this car
image


Price: $41,490
Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 200kW/336Nm
Transmission: five-speed auto, front-wheel drive
Body: Four-door sedan
Thirst: 9.9L/100km, 91 RON, CO2 233g/km

 

ImageVolkswagen Passat- compare this car
image


Price: $43,990
Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel, 125kW/350Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, front-wheel drive
Body: Four-door sedan
Thirst: 6.6L/100km, diesel, CO2 175g/km

 

 

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 7 comments

  • Mike, the 2.2gt version of the 508 is comparable to the v6 diesel of the 407. If you look at the info on the 2.2 the kw are supposed to almost be identical with better economy. Hope this helps

    Sheldon Gannon of queensland gold coast Posted on 13 October 2011 6:42pm
  • Will look at it - need a comfortable utterly reliable family hack -my “2.5” star Aurion Presara has 100K utterly reliable K’s, and has excellent power and equipment - steering and handling a bit wooly but okay on trips, fast and lazy but nice, everyone’s happy on trips….will compare the 508 with the new Aurion…Oh as an old 404 fan I would love a Peugeot but I seriously worry about reliability and resale…We’ll see.

    Dasher of Canberra Posted on 15 September 2011 10:40pm
  • I agree with Sheldon, I looked at Audi, Citroen, Passat, Skoda, BMW etc. The 508 came up trumps in pricing, appointments, overall finish, comfort, ride and handling. The fuel consumption is fantastic especially on the highway. More than enough power for the average punter, handles well etc. I have a late model SL Mercedes (weekend car) and I prefer the 508 for all but fast cornering. Looks like it will be garaged for longer periods now. If you can find a 508 with a dealer take it for a spin, am sure you will love it, good luck finding one though, I believe they are in short supply in Oz until next year. Happy motoring!

    steve, sunny coast of queensland Posted on 28 August 2011 12:51pm
  • I have a 407 SV Sport 3.0L V6 currently and it is the quickest, best-handling vehicle I have driven of all the “sixes” I have owned - I may not go to the 508 due to the fact it does not offer a similar size engine - I have always had sixes.

    Mike of Mt Cotton Posted on 11 August 2011 1:00pm
  • Okay I have a problem with this review. The amount of information that, the reviewer leaves out. I helped a Peugeot dealer to do a launch on this car and I can tell you that this car is packed with heaps of extras that none of its rival offer in a base model. To get the equivalent Audi/VW or Skoda you would be in the high 60,000 if not 70,000’s. But as a long time Peugeot owner this car is a massive leap forward for the brand. Test drive, Test drive and test drive this car and I assure you it will make you think twice about the name Peugeot. They have nailed it this time. The only thing that I can say is that I felt that my current 2.0l diesel 3008 was a little more powerful that the 2.0l diesel in the 508, but they do weigh different amounts. Also all models offer keyless entry and stop start without key. You don’t even need the key to open or lock the car just have it in your pocket and touch the doors. Lets see a rival Euro brand offer this for the same money!

    sheldon of queensland Posted on 04 August 2011 1:47pm
  • Looking for a new station-wagon. I was very impressed by the 508 Touring and could have been seriously interested - until I found that it will only be available in the top spec Allure model. OK if you’re happy to pay an extra 5 grand for leather and superfluous “boys toys”, but it will not now be on my shopping list!

    Larry Parkes Posted on 02 August 2011 1:02pm
  • Warranty is 100,000kms not 60,000kms, service intervals are 20,000kms or 12 months.

    James of Sydney Posted on 22 July 2011 7:40pm
Read all 7 comments

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