Mazda 6 2013 Review
If you want to know the difference between a small SUV and a medium SUV, multiply the length of the vehicle by its width.
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The original Lion brand has been in and out of my personal life since I first drew breath - I grew up riding in the back of a 504 and spent time in a number of models during my formative years - 405, 205, 505 and a classic 404. Having sampled the flagship 2.2-litre turbodiesel 508 GT we're spending time in a mid-spec Allure.
The Allure is priced from $42,990 for the two-litre turbodiesel with a six-speed auto, $10,000 cheaper than the GT. It is down on a few features, as well 30kW of power and 110Nm of torque, but it was not sorely missed.
The Allure gets cruise control with speed limiter, speed sensitive reach and rake adjustable power steering, remote control central locking, parking sensors (front and rear), power windows, an electric park brake, power-adjustable, heated and folding door mirrors with puddle light, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.
The features list also includes a good-quality (in sound at least) eight-speaker sound system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, power-adjustable and heated front seats, leather trim, a four-zone climate control system, side and rear manual sun blinds, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and 17in alloy wheels (and a full-size spare). The test car had the optional $1500 satellite navigation.
There's no shortage of clever bits on the 508, but the main focal point is the engine - two litres, intercooled and turbocharged with double overhead cams and 16 valves - with common-rail direct-injection and particle filter, it's quiet, smooth and efficient. Despite giving away plenty of poke to the more expensive GT, the Allure proved to have ample outputs for most commuting needs and long legs on the freeway.
Remote keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors (with visual warning on the centre display) and an automatic electric park brake are also on the features list, as is a function called "Available parallel parking space measurement." The car's parking sensors measures the size of a parking space and the degree of difficulty - "parking possible, parking difficult and parking impossible." That last one sounds like a challenge.
It's not as distinctive a design as the RCZ or the 3008 but the sedan flagship's looks are striking without being out there. The "claw effect" in the rear LED lights is part of the lion badge heritage, while the front has lost the gaping mouth of its predecessors in favour of a more refined look.
Longer of wheelbase and rear overhang, and shorter of front overhang, the 508 is lighter than the 407 thanks to greater use of high strength steel. The cabin is comfortable but the dash, centre stack and steering wheel appear a little busier than necessary, with some unnecessary duplication of functions; no standard satnav is a bit cheeky when you consider it's available in some sub-$30,000 vehicles.
Peugeot says the interior dimensions are on a par with those of the 607 and improved over the 407 - as a tall driver I had no qualms about finding a decent driving position . Room for rear passengers is good without being great, but four adults of average size are not going to have any complaints.
The big Pug ranks five stars under the NCAP crash test program, due to plenty of crash protection structures and use of lightweight high-strength steel. There's also dual front, front-side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control, as well as useful one-touch rear door and window child locks. Front seat occupants also get pretensioners and load limiters on their seatbelts.
The mid-spec 508 looks a little light-on for output when you stack up the numbers against the GT but from behind the wheel it's less of an issue. The engine and transmission team up well and smooth, quiet, unfussed progress through traffic is easily achieved.
On the open road the noise doesn't intrude either, leaving just a bit of wind noise to whistle around the mirrors when loping along at 100km/h. Ride quality is heading toward firm but not uncomfortably so; body control is good for a non-sport model and the big French sedan only pushes the nose wide under duress, with some steering rack rattle if the surface is below-par.
There's a lot to like about the 508 Allure but gremlins were not altogether absent. The Bluetooth system's microphone apparently required a software upgrade as it decided I had nothing worthwhile to say when using the phone - a few hours back at the dealership brought it back into operation temporarily, but it censored me again before I had returned it.
Tantrums from the sound system marred an otherwise quality sound in the cabin - the infotainment system was temperamental throughout my time in the car. Whether linked via Bluetooth or cable, the music player within my iPhone was not always displayed and would sporadically ignore otherwise-obeyed instructions from both the console and steering wheel buttons.
At the time of writing there had been no verdict on the fault. Rear passengers had no cause for complaint, with their own temperature controls and manual pull-up window blinds for the side and rear window. Cargo space was useful, with the boot claiming 497 litres of space - in Falcon and Commodore territory.
The trip computer was showing 8.5 litres per 100km at the end of our stint, which would suggest an 850km range from the 72 litre tank. If you could get close the the 4.6l/100km extra-urban figure you could conceivably get 1500km from the tank.
The 508 has many redeeming qualities and is a welcome and long-overdue replacement for the 407 and unremarkable 607, but nagging doubts from electronic gremlins remain.
For medium car buyers it's a viable option in many ways for the top-end of the segment, but issues with electronics cast doubt over the brand's improved quality claims.
|Active 1.6 EHDi||1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$7,700 – 11,990||2012 Peugeot 508 2012 Active 1.6 EHDi Pricing and Specs|
|Active 1.6T||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$11,999 – 12,990||2012 Peugeot 508 2012 Active 1.6T Pricing and Specs|
|Allure 1.6T||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$8,990 – 9,890||2012 Peugeot 508 2012 Allure 1.6T Pricing and Specs|
|Allure HDi||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$9,800 – 15,995||2012 Peugeot 508 2012 Allure HDi Pricing and Specs|