Every once in a while, I have these troubling existential thoughts about the way things are.
The latest line of internal questioning went along the lines of: Why are there so many SUVs now? What makes people buy them? How can we have less of them?
The trigger for this train of thought was once again hopping behind the wheel of Peugeot’s emotive non-SUV flagship, the 508 GT.
One glance at its daring design, and you wonder how people could look past it, to a formless box of an SUV behind it on a dealer's forecourt.
Now, I know people buy SUVs for good reasons. They’re (generally) easier to clamber into, they make living with kids or pets easier, and you never have to worry about scraping on a ramp or driveway again.
A lot of people don’t need these particular benefits, though, and I suggest a lot of people would be better served by a car like this.
It’s just as comfortable, almost as practical, better to drive, and makes our roads more interesting.
Join me, reader, as I attempt to justify why you should leave the mid-size SUV on the dealer lot and choose something more adventurous.
Peugeot 508 2022: GT
Premium Unleaded Petrol
Is there anything interesting about its design? 9/10
If I haven’t made it clear enough already, I think the 508 is a properly good-looking piece of design. I love that the wagon exists, but the fastback version I tested for this review is the 508 at its best.
Every angle is interesting. The front is composed of so many different elements which somehow unite for something eye-grabbing for all the right reasons.
The front is composed of so many different elements which somehow unite for something eye-grabbing for all the right reasons (Image: Tom White).
The way the light clusters are inset under the nose gives it a tough character, while the DRLs which streak down the sides and into the lower bumper accentuate the car’s width and aggressive stance.
The strong character lines on the bonnet run under the frameless windows to accentuate the car’s width, while the gently sloped roof draws your eyes gradually into the long tail, with the boot-lid panel acting as a rear spoiler.
Strapped across the rear are a pair of angular LED tail-lights and just the right amount of black plastic which, again, draws your eyes to the width and dual tailpipe set-up.
Strapped across the rear are a pair of angular LED tail-lights and just the right amount of black plastic (Image: Tom White).
Inside, the commitment to fascinating design continues. The overall interior look is one of the most interesting departures in recent memory, with the ‘floating’ dual-spoke steering wheel, terraced dash with chrome highlights, and deeply inset digital dash which separates itself from the wheel in a bold move.
Inside, the commitment to fascinating design continues (Image: Tom White).
At first glance it all looks great but has some drawbacks. There’s a little too much chrome for me, the climate controls are annoyingly touch-only, and if you’re too tall, the steering wheel might obscure the dash elements thanks to the unique layout.
This brings us to the practicality section. Yes, the frameless doors on this Peugeot are a little weird, and with a descending roofline and sporty seating position, it’s never going to be as easy to get in an out of when compared to an SUV alternative.
The cabin is more spacious than you might expect, though, with the driver and front passenger treated to plush synthetic leather thrones with plenty of knee, head, and arm space.
Adjustability for the driver is generally good, but as we’ve found putting people of different sizes in the driver’s seat, the avant-garde 'i-Cockpit' wheel and dash design could create some visibility issues.
The interior layout does allow for a decent amount of storage areas, with a large cutaway under the centre console housing the twin USB ports and a wireless phone charger, a huge flip-open armrest console box, sizable dual cupholders with lighting up front, and large pockets with an extra bottle holder in the doors. Not bad.
The back seat is a mixed bag. The superb seat cladding continues, offering fantastic levels of comfort, however the descending roofline and weird frameless doors make it harder than usual to get in and out of, and limit headroom notably.
In back seat the descending roofline and weird frameless doors make it harder than usual to get in and out (Image: Tom White).
Behind my own driving position, for example, I had decent knee room and arm space (particularly with armrests on both sides) but at 182cm tall, my head was nearly touching the roof.
This limited vertical space is compounded by dark rear window tint and black headlining to make for a claustrophobic-feeling rear cabin, despite adequate length and width.
Rear passengers still get a good level of amenity though, with a small bottle holder in each door, decent pockets on the backs of the front seats, dual USB power outlets, dual adjustable air vents, and a drop-down armrest with a further two cupholders.
Rear seat passengers get dual USB power outlets and dual adjustable air vents (Image: Tom White).
The boot weighs in at 487 litres in this fastback version, which is on par if not bigger than most mid-size SUVs, and with an entirely raising rear tailgate, as easy to load up, too. It fit our three-piece CarsGuide suitcase set with plenty of room to spare.
The boot weighs in at 487 litres in this fastback version (Image: Tom White).
The boot weighs in at 487 litres in this fastback version (Image: Tom White).
The seats fold down 60/40, and there’s even a ski-port in behind the drop-down armrest. Want more space again? There’s always the wagon version which offers an even more expansive 530L.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 7/10
As I have alluded to in my rambling introduction, the Peugeot 508 is a lot of things, but one of those things is not ‘cheap.’
Owing to the sedan/fastback style falling out of favour in Australia, manufacturers know these products are for a niche, generally higher-end buyer, and specify them accordingly.
The 508 features a 10-inch multimedia touchscreen (Image: Tom White).
As a result, the 508 only comes in a single flagship GT trim wearing an MSRP of $56,990.
Hardly a price to tempt people out of an SUV on the value front, but then, if you’re comparing spec-for-spec the 508 GT packs as much equipment as a high-end mainstream SUV, anyway.
Standard stuff includes 19-inch alloy wheels clad in impressive Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, adaptive dampers in the suspension linked to the car’s driving modes, full LED headlights, tail-lights, and DRLs, a 12.3-inch digital dash cluster, 10-inch multimedia touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, built-in nav, digital radio, 10-speaker audio system, Napa leather interior trim, heated front seats with electrical adjust and message functions, as well as keyless entry with push-start ignition.
Standard stuff includes 19-inch alloy wheels clad in impressive Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres (Image: Tom White).
There is a 12.3-inch digital dash cluster (Image: Tom White).
The 508 comes standard with LED headlights (Image: Tom White).
The interior is clad with full synthetic leather interior trim (Image: Tom White).
The only options for the 508 in Australia include a sunroof ($2500), and premium paints (either metallic - $590, or pearlescent - $1050), and if you want all this style and substance with a bigger boot, you can always pick the wagon version for just $2000 more.
This equipment level lands the Peugeot 508 GT in the semi-luxury territory the brand is aiming for in Australia, and the fit, finish, and safety suite meets expectations for what Peugeot calls its “aspirational flagship.” More on this later.
This price has crept up from the original launch price-tag of two years ago ($53,990), but still falls between its two closest rivals in Australia, the Volkswagen Arteon ($59,990) and Skoda Superb ($54,990).
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 8/10
There’s just one engine option for the 508 in Australia, a peppy 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol unit which punches well above its weight to provide 165kW/300Nm. They were V6 outputs in recent memory.
The 508 is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol unit (Image: Tom White).
That said, while it’s adequate for something this size, it doesn’t have the more direct punch offered by engines with more capacity (say VW’s 162TSI 2.0-litre turbo).
This engine is mated to the well-regarded (Aisin-sourced) eight-speed (EAT8) traditional automatic transmission, so there are no glitchy dual-clutch or rubbery CVT issues to be found here.
How much fuel does it consume? 7/10
With a small capacity turbo engine and an abundance of ratios in the transmission, you would expect a trim fuel consumption, and the 508 delivers, at least on paper, with an official number of 6.3L/100km.
Sounds great, but in real life this number is near-impossible to achieve. Even with nearly 800km of freeway distance in my two weeks with the car, it was still returning a dash-reported 7.3L/100km, and around town expect a figure in the high eights.
Not to lose the forest through the trees, this is still a great result for a car this size, just not what it says on the sticker.
The small capacity turbo engine requires at least mid-grade 95 RON unleaded fuel, which goes into a relatively large 62 litre tank. Expect 600+ km range on a full tank.
Those searching for hybrid efficiency need not wait long either, there’s a PHEV version of the 508 arriving in Australia imminently.
What's it like to drive? 8/10
The Peugeot backs its sporty looks with a generally engaging and refined drive experience. I love the sporty seating position, the comfortable seats, and the cool dash layout, but the fastback design makes visibility a little limited out the rear.
The steering is fast and sensitive, with few turns to lock, and a light tune to the feedback, giving the 508 an easygoing but at times twitchy nature.
This evens out significantly as you speed up, with the obvious benefit at low-speed being painless parking.
The ride is excellent courtesy of superb dampers and sensibly-sized alloys. I applaud the brand for resisting the urge to place 20-inch wheels on this design-led machine, as it helps to give it a comfortable feeling of a grand tourer on the open road.
The steering is fast and sensitive, with few turns to lock, and a light tune to the feedback (Image: Tom White).
I was continually impressed by the way harsher bumps and corrugations were simply filtered out, and noise levels in the cabin are excellent.
The engine feels refined and responsive but only has just enough power for the 508’s bulk. While the 8.1 second 0-100km/h sprint time doesn’t look too bad on paper, there’s something leisurely about the power delivery, even in the more responsive Sport mode.
Again, this aligns with the idea that the 508 is more tourer than outright sporting machine.
The transmission, being a traditional torque converter, is free of the kinds of issues that plague CVTs and dual-clutches, and while it is generally smooth and fuss-free, you can catch it out lingering in a gear for a second too long, and on the rare occasion, grabbing the wrong cog.
On the whole, though, it feels like the right kind of automatic for this car. There’s not enough power on offer to justify a dual-clutch, and a CVT would dull the experience.
Handling when on a more spirited drive puts this car in its happy place. While you don’t have an abundance of power, it eats curves up, remaining comfortable, controlled, and refined, no matter what I threw at it.
This is no doubt down to its adjustable dampers, long wheelbase, and overkill Pilot Sport tyres.
The 508 rightfully takes its place as the brand’s flagship offering, with the refinement and handling of a luxury car, although the performance promise falls short of extraordinary. But given its semi-premium market position, it’s right on the money.
Warranty & Safety Rating
5 years / unlimited km
ANCAP Safety Rating
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 8/10
Sitting atop the 508 range in international markets, means the 508 GT in Australia comes with the full array of active safety equipment.
These features are complemented by the standard array of six airbags, three top-tether and two ISOFIX child seat mounting points, as well as the standard electronic brake, stability, and traction controls, for a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, awarded in 2019.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 7/10
Peugeot covers its passenger cars with a competitive five-year and unlimited kilometre warranty, the same as most of its more mainstream rivals.
Peugeot covers its passenger cars with a competitive five-year and unlimited kilometre warranty (Image: Tom White).
The 508 requires servicing once every 12 months or 20,000km, whichever occurs first, and is covered by a 'Peugeot Assured Service Price' which is a fixed price calculator extending all the way to nine years/108,000km.
The problem is it’s not cheap. The first service kicks off at a decidedly premium $606, and over the first five years averages out to $678.80 annually.
Its most direct competitors are significantly cheaper to service, with the Toyota Camry being the standard bearer here at just $220 for each of the first four visits.
This follow-up drive has only confirmed the overwhelmingly positive feelings I had about this car when it launched in late 2019.
It oozes a unique style, it's surprisingly practical, and is a fantastic long-distance tourer with solid ride and handling.
To me, the fact that such a statement car is destined to be overlooked in favour of some sort of SUV is a tragedy. Go on Australia, give it a drive!
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