Mazda 6 2013 Review
Had the new Mazda 6 been here a little earlier, we feel sure it would have taken every Car Of The Year accolade - it's that good.
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Peugeot has more recently been best known for its smaller cars - 207, 308 et al - with some SUVs as an aside, but the larger end of the portfolio has long been underdone. The 407 soldiered on, the 607 fell well short of expectations and now finally the 508 is here. Bigger and to many eyes not as pretty as the 407, it's striking and has presence, but the feline grace of some of its forebears seems lacking.
We're not shopping in the bargain basement at $52,990 but the biggest passenger Pug has no shortage of gear - there's quad-zone filtered climate control, sunblinds for the rear and rear-side windows, parking sensors front and rear, hill-start assist, an electric parking brake, reach and rake adjustable steering, an alarm, folding and heated exterior rearvision mirrors, and an auto-dipping rear view mirror.
The GT also gets the little head up display screen with colour output, keyless entry and go, cruise control with speed limiter function, satellite navigation, a top-quality eight-speaker sound system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, controlled via the slightly busy leather-wrapped steering wheel, 18in alloy wheels, but it's not all standard. Leather seats with position memory is an extra $2500, or there are two satnav options - nav and the head-up display alone are $1500, or those two features with the sound system upgrade add up to $2300.
Top of the list is the high-pressure common-rail direct injection turbodiesel engine, which shrinks to 2.2 from the outgoing 2.7 litre V6, but gains 10Nm and improves fuel consumption by 33 per cent - 8.4 down to 5.7 litres per 100km. Peugeot says the use of lightweight and low-friction engine and turbo components - including a titanium turbocharger impeller and piezo injectors - has helped reduce fuel use.
The 508 GT car also has a double-wishbone front-end (instead of the MacPherson strut for the rest of the range) which the company claims improves the steering and overall dynamics.
This is a big car - 92mm longer in the wheelbase than its predecessor - and for some it's a like and others are more in the "yikes" camp when it comes to the looks. Certainly striking, the 508 sedan has a sculpted shoulder line that extends through the snout, which carries the new-look family resemblance. The rear is squared-off and almost abrupt by comparison, with tail lights in LED form to stand out.
It's cabin is more conventional, with more than enough room for four adults - at 190-odd cm I was able to sit behind my own driving position, which is a good indication of enough head and leg room. Seating is comfortable, if not overly-endowed with lateral support - but there are heaters for the front pews and the driver gets a massage, so there's compensation. The dashboard, centre stack and steering wheel are all a little busier than is ideal, due the long list of features - although no standard satnav is a bit cheeky in a car over fifty-thousand.
The 508 has a European New Car Assessment Program rating of five stars, with six airbags and stability control, emergency brake assist and brakeforce distribution as well as pretensioning and load-limiting front seatbelts and load-limiting outer rear seatbelts (all seatbelts are lap-sash). The 508 has the clever electric rear child-safety lock (for the doors and windows) allowing parental control with one touch.
Faster reacting LED tail-lights, automatic adaptive bi-xenon headlights and rain-sensing wipers, front and rear fog lights, tyre pressure sensors and daytime running lights.
Getting to grips with the new Pug, the first challenge is negotiating a busy centre stack - it's got plenty of gear, but the top-spec GT's myriad buttons and menus aren't always the easiest to decipher. It's French. Mon Dieu.
The GT-only front end does give it a willing nose for corners and the body is well-controlled, but anyone looking for more compliant ride quality will have to forgo the sportier front-end, as well as losing out on the frugal diesel, which claims a combined figure of 5.7 l/100km and gets single-digit averages in the real world. You're not left in any doubt about fuel requirements but it's not harsh and at cruising speeds it is far less audible, the payoff coming from in-gear acceleration on part-throttle - 450Nm is a solid chunk from a little powerplant.
The six-speed auto works well enough with the engine, although the gated shift is not as easy to use as some. The GT's driver's seat has power-adjustment, heating and a massager, so there's no need to stress in the traffic - cool breeze from the quad-zone climate control, warmer loosening up the back and who cares about being late for work? Rear headroom isn't cavernous but there's enough lower-limb space for my 190-odd cm frame to sit behind a similarly sized driver.
The sound system has USB and Bluetooth connectivity, although when running an iPhone's music player (on a USB cable or via Bluetooth) the delay from dash button to track change often meant two or three were skipped. The telephone side suffered none of these issues and easy enough to use through the car's infotainment system. The satnav is clear and relatively easy to use, as was the centre trip computer display - unlike many cars with such screens, the Pug had a speed readout, which was a good back-up to the head-up display screen that flips into place on start-up.
The boot (which has no button on the bootlid that I could find) is not that deep but useful at 497 litres - if there was a full-size spare it would be too shallow, so the 508 makes do with a space-saver. Something the bulk of French cars are doing well is the rear child locks, a simple button that does door locks and windows, leaving the driver in control - too many window lock buttons remove all control and don't leave the driver's switches in play.
Some will love the looks, others will just be pleased to have an alternative to the Germans who dominate the compact prestige market, but the Gallic lion finally has something to roar about again. Well-equipped but not as engaging as perhaps it could have been, it's a welcome and positive step back into the market for Peugeot - with a model that is worthy of genuine consideration.
|Active 1.6 EHDi||1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$7,860 – 12,990||2011 Peugeot 508 2011 Active 1.6 EHDi Pricing and Specs|
|Active 1.6T||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$7,200 – 11,110||2011 Peugeot 508 2011 Active 1.6T Pricing and Specs|
|Allure 1.6T||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$7,700 – 11,880||2011 Peugeot 508 2011 Allure 1.6T Pricing and Specs|
|Allure HDi||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$8,800 – 11,999||2011 Peugeot 508 2011 Allure HDi Pricing and Specs|