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Big Peugeots are a proper rarity in this country. Decades ago, they were made here, but in these SUV-heavy times, a big French sedan or wagon passes the market by with barely a blip. A personal point of irritation for me is how small an impression Peugeot makes on the local automotive landscape, because its 3008/5008 pair are excellent. Why don't people see that?
Speaking of cars that people don't understand, this week I was riding that fading star of the automotive constellation; the station wagon. Peugeot's new 508 Sportwagon, to be exact, all 4.79 metres of it.
|Peugeot 508 2020: GT|
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Both the Sportwagon and Fastback come in just one specification, the GT. A Fastback will set you back $53,990 while the wagon is a couple of grand more, at $55,990. At that price, you expect - and get - a wagonload of stuff.
Like 18-inch alloys, a 10-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, front and reversing cameras, keyless entry and start, active cruise control, powered front seats with heating and massaging functions, sat nav, auto parking (steering), auto LED headlights with auto high beam, Nappa leather seats, auto wipers, a solid safety package and a space-saver spare.
Peugeot's media system inhabits the 10-inch touchscreen. The hardware is frustratingly slow on occasions - and worse when you want to use the climate controls - but is nice to look at. The 10-speaker stereo has DAB and you can use Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The stereo is quite good, as it turns out.
The screen's clever organ-key shortcuts are very cool and lovely to touch, which does make the system a little easier to use, but the three-finger prod on the screen is even better, bringing up all of the menu options you might need. Still, the hardware itself is the cabin's weakest point.
Like the underrated 3008 and 5008, the 508's exterior design is terrific. While I do find the 3008 SUV's schnoz a bit much, the 508's is fantastic. Those LED driving lights form a pair of fangs slicing down into the bumper, and they look brilliant. The wagon, as ever, is also slightly better proportioned than the already pretty Fastback.
The interior feels like it's from a much more expensive car (yes, I know this one isn't exactly cheap). The Nappa leather, the metal switches and the inventive i-Cockpit all conspire to create a very avant-garde feel. It feels great and with judicious use of textures and materials, the sense of expense is palpable. The i-Cockpit is an acquired taste - CarsGuide colleague Richard Berry and I will one day fight to the death over this configuration - but I like it.
The little steering wheel feels racy, but I will concede that the less upright driving position does mean the wheel can block the instruments.
Speaking of the instruments, the excellent, configurable digital dashboard is a lot of fun, with several different display modes that are, on occasion, quite inventive, and useful, like the one that cuts down on extraneous information.
The front seats are very comfortable - I wonder if Toyota saw these and said "We want some of them." Also up front is a pair of cupholders that are actually useful, so it seems the French have finally broken on the issue and gone with utility instead of the previous, passive-aggressive fitment of small-diameter, shallow units.
You can store your phone, even large format ones, under the sideways-opening flap. In a truly unique moment, I found that if you let the larger iPhone slip down to rest flat on the tray's base, you may need to seriously consider disassembling the entire car to get it out again. Another of my niche concerns, but my fingers are fine now, thanks for asking.
The bin under the armrest is mildly useful and contains a USB port, in addition to the one awkwardly placed at the base of centre stack.
Rear-seat passengers get a pretty good deal, too, with better headroom than on the Fastback, as the roof continues on a flatter curve. Unlike some carmakers, the diamond stitching extends to the rear seats, which are reasonably comfortable, too. There are also air vents and two more USB ports in the rear. I wish Peugeot would stop putting that cheap chrome surround on the USB ports, though - they look like an afterthought.
Behind the seats is a 530-litre boot, which expands to 1780 litres with all the seats down.
Peugeot's 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder makes an appearance under the bonnet, with an impressive 165kW and a slightly mismatched 300Nm. Power reaches the road via an eight-speed automatic driving the front wheels.
The 508 is rated to tow 750kg unbraked and 1600kg braked.
Peugeot's own testing against Australian standards produced a combined cycle figure of 6.3L/100km. I spent a week with the car in mostly suburban running and could only manage 9.8L/100km, which is still not bad going for this much car, really.
The 508 arrives from France with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB to 140km/h with pedestrian and cyclist detection, traffic-sign recognition, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and driver attention detection.
Irritatingly, it doesn't have reverse cross traffic alert.
Child-seat anchorages include two ISOFIX points and three top-tether points.
The 508 scored five ANCAP stars when tested in September 2019.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
A generous service interval of 12 months/20,000km is good, but the cost of servicing is a bit of a problem. The good news is that you know what you're paying over the first five years of ownership. The bad news is it's just over $3500, meaning an average of $700 per year. Swinging the pendulum back is the fact that the servicing includes things like fluids and filters that others don't, so it is a bit more comprehensive.
It might seem like a lot of car to be pushed along with a 1.6-litre engine, but the Peugeot has two things going for it. The first is that the engine is quite powerful for its size, even if the torque figure doesn't quite match it. But then you see that the car weighs just under 1400kg, which isn't a lot.
The relatively light weight (a Mazda6 wagon carries another 200kg) means a smart, if not striking, 0-100km/h time of 8.1 seconds.
Once you spend some time with the car, you realise that everything is just about right. The five driving modes are actually different, for example, with distinctive differences in suspension, engine and transmission settings.
Comfort is very comfortable indeed, with a smooth engine response - I thought it a bit laggy - and a plush ride. The long wheelbase certainly helps, and is shared with the Fastback. The car has a limo-like quality to it, quiet and composed, it just slinks around.
Flick it into Sport and the car tenses up nicely but never loses its composure. Some Sport modes are either fundamentally useless (louder, ruins the gearchange) or heavy-handed (six tonnes of steering effort, undriveable throttle). The 508 errs towards maintaining comfort while offering a bit more involvement for the driver through the bends.
It's not meant to be a quick car, but when you put all the pieces together, it does a fine job of fulfilling its intended purpose.
Like all recent Peugeots - and those of two decades ago - this is a car that offers plenty for both driver and passengers. It's very comfortable and quiet, significantly cheaper than German alternatives and yet delivers pretty much everything they do, without having to tick any expensive option boxes.
There are plenty of people who will be seduced by the car's style and smitten by its substance. Turns out I'm one of them.
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|