Chrysler 300 VS Peugeot 508
- 6.4 litres of scream
- Well equipped
- Standard safety
- Thirst like a dredger
- So-so dynamics
- Poor ownership package
- Hatch and wagon available to Aussies
- Punchy engine in top-spec model
- Some questionable fit/finish
- Ingress/egress to back seat
- Pricing unknown
You may be sensing an increasing level of hype around hybrid and full battery-electric vehicles. In fact, it feels like the automotive world has gone full-fat bananas over ‘electro-mobility’.
At least car manufacturers have, with Tesla’s entertaining antics disrupting the status quo, and causing virtually every mainstream brand to get on board the zero-emissions express.
But of course, the other side of that equation is demand. The rush to meet ever tightening emissions regulations (and save the planet in the process) fails to recognise the fact that not everybody wants a ZEV… yet.
The days of big-bore, more is good, internal combustion propulsion aren’t over yet, and Chrysler, like the rest of the ‘Murican Big Three’ is keeping traditional muscle car enthusiasts happy.
In fact, we’re in the midst of a US horsepower arms race not seen since the late 1960s and early ‘70s, and Chrysler’s SRT (Street & Racing Technology) performance subsidiary is leading from the front with a variety of over-the-top Hellcats, Demons and Red Eyes.
Australia has recently picked up a whiff of that action with the utterly mad 522kW Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, but the only slightly unhinged SRT version, and this car, the Chrysler 300 SRT, have been around for some time.
Launched here in 2012, the second-generation version of the 6.4-litre naturally aspirated sedan was discontinued in the USA in 2014. But sensing a large sedan-sized opportunity as local manufacturing from Ford, Holden and Toyota went the way of the Dodo, the local FCA team negotiated a continuation deal.
Think of the 300 SRT as America’s M5 or E63. A full-size performance sedan with a thick layer of luxury laid over the top, but at around one third the price.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Peugeot reckons you shop with your eyes. That should mean the company will sell plenty of this car, the new Peugeot 508 2019 model.
The problem will be convincing the other, more brain-like parts of its potential customers that this is a vehicle worth considering. Most people want SUVs now, and Peugeot has the impressive seven-seat 5008 SUV if you want something like that.
But there are reasons that this car is more appealing than an SUV. More than just its striking design, this is a car with style and substance.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
The Chrysler 300 SRT is a big, fast, well-equipped and super-comfortable point-to-point tourer that’s also able to soak up the stresses of a city commute with ease. It’s also showing its age in terms of design, obscenely thirsty, dynamically flawed, and offered with a bottom-of-the-class ownership package. A fun place to visit but make sure you’re ready for permanent residency.
Thinking about some muscle gain? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
So is it worth considering the 508? Well that will depend on how it's priced. We won't know that til mid-2019, but all signs point to this being a compelling option, and a nice alternative to some of those other luxury-focused European models, too.
Has the Peugeot 508 done enough to lure buyers away from the German brands? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
The NSW Highway Patrol has adopted the 300 SRT as its weapon of choice, and psychologically I reckon they’re onto a winner.
A high waistline, small glasshouse and big 20-inch rims combine to give the 300 a chunky, take-no-prisoners stance. And this intimidating beast filling the mirrors is enough to make even the most determined speedster drop their bundle.
Except for the SRT badge at the back, the exterior is a chrome-free zone, with black finish on the big honeycomb grille, window frames, and dark chrome wheels dialing up the overall air of menace.
The rear view is similarly imposing, with a large slab of almost right-angular boot lid topped by a pronounced body-colour spoiler.
At this point, we have to call out less than perfect panel fit. On our test car for example the intersection of the bonnet and front clip above the headlights was messy with inconsistent shut lines and poor alignment.
Inside not much has changed over the current 300’s seven years on sale, and the design lacks the integrated approach of more modern competitors.
An 8.4-inch colour media touchscreen sits in the centre of a squared oval panel between the central air vents and under an analogue clock, that shape bearing no resemblance to the form of the heating and ventilation control panel below it or the instrument binnacle alongside.
A mass of buttons confronts the driver across the centre stack, steering wheel and door, while genuine carbon fibre inserts add a racy if slightly ironic touch in a close to 2.0-tonne car.
Leather and suede sports front seats look (and feel) the business, and the strongly illuminated gauges are divided by a 7.0-inch multifunction display including a clear digital speed read-out. Which is just as well, because the fussy increments on the analogue dial are hard to read.
Yes, there's a lot that's interesting about the design. But the main point is that it's absolutely gorgeous.
Having spent a few days in and around 508s, I struggled to find a bad angle to the exterior styling. I don't think there is one. Even the lower-grade models look good on smaller (18-inch) wheels, while the GT on 19s looks just right.
From the sharp LED daytime running lights that drop like fangs from the maw of the front end, to the elegant lines that run side to side and the full LED headlight clusters, the front is pretty. I even like that it proudly has '508' brandished above the lion emblem on the grille.
And while Peugeot is acting like most European manufacturers in saying the car is inspired by a coupe, it actually does kind of look like a four-door coupe without being tryhard about it. Peugeot officially calls it a fastback.
Little things like pillarless doors help in that regard - they're very sporty for a mainstream model. And while it might be a convincing sedan shape to some, it's actually one of those clever liftback hatches. We'll get to the practicalities of that in the next section.
The rear end is simple in its styling; the smoked tail-light finish and black central finisher mean it's not fussy in any way back there.
At just under 5.1m long, 1.9m wide and close to 1.5m tall the 300 SRT is a sizeable machine, so it’s no surprise there’s plenty of room inside.
Those up front are provided with a pair of cupholders in the centre console (complete with heating or cooling at the press of a button), storage bins and medium-size bottle holders in the doors, a long oddments tray and a small storage cubby (with 12-volt outlet) near the gear shifter, as well as a sunglasses holder in the overhead console and a big glove box.
There’s also a lidded storage box between the seats, complete with sliding tray, two USB ports, an ‘aux-in’ jack and a 12-volt outlet. Even old school nicotine enthusiasts are catered for with an ashtray insert ready to slip into one of the cupholders and a cigarette lighter to drop into the main 12-volt socket.
Rear seat passengers pick up a fold-down centre armrest with two cupholders and a lidded oddments box, decent door bins with bottle holders, as well adjustable vents at the back of the centre console, two USB ports, and switches for the standard heated rear seats.
Sitting behind the driver’s seat set for my 183cm position I had ample legroom but only adequate headroom. There’s enough shoulder room for three adults across the rear, but the broad transmission tunnel throws a spanner in the works when it comes to centre foot room.
The fully-lined boot is nicely trimmed, with a pair of flip-out bag hooks (22kg capacity), load tie-down anchors, and useful lighting included.
Volume is 462 litres, enough to fit our three-piece hard suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres) lying flat on the floor, or the CarsGuide pram, with heaps of room to spare. A 60/40 split-folding rear seat adds extra space and flexibility.
In the case of a flat tyre your only option is a repair/inflator kit, and it’s worth noting towing capacity for the SRT is the same 450kg for a braked or unbraked trailer, where the standard V6-powered 300C can tow a 1724kg braked trailer.
Yes, there'll be a Touring version; a wagon model known as the 508 SW in Europe. And yes, it'll be more practical, with a bigger boot and arguably even more kerb appeal.
But the 508 Fastback was the model we tested, and it doesn't disappoint too much for usability and practicality.
The boot is said to offer 487 litres of cargo capacity, which is pretty decent for a vehicle of this size, and the storage space can expand to 1537L with the back seats folded down. And unlike lots of Peugeots that have come before it, there's decent storage in the cabin, too.
Yep, you even get good-sized cup holders! There are two between the front seats, and the door pockets are decent, too.
More impressive than the storage, though, is the presentation of the cabin. The finishes are lovely, and at a quick glance it feels more convincing in terms of premium-ness than some other European models from more expensive brands.
The 508 has Peugeot's i-cockpit set-up, which means there's a small steering wheel that you look over the top of to see the instruments. It's polarising - some people don't like having a steering wheel sitting so low - but personally, I love it.
The 12.3-inch digital info screen itself is lovely, and offers a lot of different views and configurations depending on what you want to see. Plus there's a 10.0-inch touchscreen media system with sat nav, plus there's Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. All models are expected to get wireless phone charging as well.
The seats offer good adjustment and reasonable comfort, but the ones in our test vehicles were the sports seats in the optional Nappa leather trim, and they were are a bit hard. Hopefully the lower grade versions without leather are a bit cushier.
Another complaint in the cars we tested was some questionable fit and finish. The paddleshifters, for instance, are constructed of several parts, none of which fit together very well (why not just a single aluminium piece, Peugeot?). We also noted a squeaky, loose centre console in one car, and some uneven fitment lines across the dashboard.
What about back seat space? With the driver's seat set in my position (I'm six-foot tall, or 182cm) the room back there isn't tremendous, but I would be comfortable for a couple of hours.
There's good knee room but anyone taller than me might struggle for headroom, especially when getting in and out - that coupe-style roofline has its downsides. And people with big feet may complain about the toe room. I've got size-12 feet and they were cramped.
There are the requisite ISOFIX child-seat anchor points and top tethers, and while the new model is wider than the 508 that came before it, three-across might still be a squish. At least there are rear air vents and the seats are pretty comfy.
Price and features
A list price of $74,950 (before on-road costs) buys a whole lot of car, equipment, and performance, with that figure only gaining entry to a pack of next-size-down options from Europe and Japan.
A $5k spread from $71-76,000 covers the Alfa Giulia Veloce ($72,900), Audi A4 45 TFSI Quattro ($73,300), BMW330i M-Sport ($70,900), Infiniti Q50 Red Sport ($74,900), Jaguar XE P300 HSE R Dynamic ($71,940), Lexus GS300 Luxury ($75,931), and Merc C 300 ($71,800).
And aside from the extra cubic inches under the hood and sheetmetal in the body, the 300 SRT’s standard features list is long, including dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start (plus remote start), heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated leather-trimmed SRT flat-bottom steering wheel, heated/cooled front cupholders, power boot lid release, electric steering column adjust (height and reach), plus eight-way electrically-adjustable driver and front passenger seats (with four-way power lumbar adjust on both and radio/seat/mirror memory on the driver’s side).
Also standard are auto headlights (with auto level and auto high beam), rain-sensing wipers, power-folding exterior mirrors (with defrost), nappa leather and suede seat trim, 825-watt, 19-speaker harman/kardon audio (including digital radio), sat nav, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a 7.0-inch instrument cluster display, the 8.4-inch colour media touchscreen, and 20-inch forged alloy wheels.
There are plenty of other safety and performance features, which we’ll cover in later sections, wrapping into an impressive standard package at this price point. And ‘our’ test car featured the ‘SRT Luxury Package’ ($4750) adding a monster dual-pane glass sunroof, premium leather trim on the instrument panel, centre console and door trims, as well as premium floor mats front and rear.
The standard colour choice is black and white… ‘Gloss Black’ or ‘Bright White’, with ‘Silver Mist’, ‘Ceramic Grey’, ‘Granite Crystal’, ‘Maximum Steel’ and ‘Velvet Red’ optional, and ‘Ocean Blue’ available to specific customer order.
The exact pricing and specifications are still to be confirmed for the new Peugeot 508, but we can make some educated guesses.
It is expected that the target zone for the range is between $45,000 and $55,000, meaning it'll compete with upper-end versions of mainstream rivals like the Mazda6 and Skoda Octavia, and under the likes of the Volkswagen Arteon. You might also consider it a more affordable alternative to the likes of the Audi A5, Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class or BMW 4 Series GranCoupe.
It is possible that there'll be three grades offered, and the Fastback hatch and Touring wagon of each. But we'd bank on a more simple line-up, with maybe three or four versions of the 508 to choose from.
We sampled the GT-Line and the flagship GT. Full specifications will follow closer to the local launch of the 508 range in the second quarter of 2019.
Engine & trans
Forget hybrid, forget turbos, the Chrysler 300 SRT is powered by 392 cubic-inches of Detroit iron… although the 6.4-litre ‘Apache’ V8 is actually built in Mexico.
The engine’s block is indeed cast iron although the heads are aluminium, with the ‘Hemi’ name derived from its hemispherical combustion chamber design.
It’s naturally aspirated, direct fuel-injected and produces 350kW (470hp) at 6150rpm and no less than 637Nm of torque at 4250rpm.
Drive goes through an eight-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels with a limited-slip diff standard.
The difference is the power outputs. The low-spec model has a 180 horsepower rating, which translates to 133kW, and it has 250Nm of torque.
The flagship drivetrain in the GT model has 225 horsepower, or 168kW, and 350Nm. This model has a zero-100km/h claim of just 7.3 seconds. The other version claims 7.9sec.
A model of fuel efficiency this car is not. Claimed economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 13.0L/100km, the 300 SRT emitting 303g/km of CO2 in the process.
Over roughly 300km of city, suburban and freeway running we recorded 18.5L/100km (at the bowser), and the on-board computer threw up some horrifying short-term numbers as we explored the car’s performance potential.
Minimum fuel requirement is 95 RON premium unleaded and you’ll need 70 litres of it to fill the tank… regularly.
The official European claimed fuel consumption for the high-spec engine is rated at just 6.5L/100km, while the less powerful engine uses a touch less fuel at 6.0L/100km. I saw displayed fuel use on test - with a mix of freeway, traffic-snarled highway, back road and spirited driving - of 8.9L/100km.
Fuel tank capacity is 62 litres. It requires 95RON premium unleaded fuel.
Roll onto a smooth, dry surface, engage the SRT’s standard launch control function and you’ve dialled in the ability to storm from 0-100km/h in a ludicrously rapid 4.5sec.
Unlike smaller capacity turbo engines, the big atmo Hemi takes a while to develop maximum torque (637Nm), hitting peak pulling power at 4250rpm. Keep the throttle pinned and full power (350kW) is achieved on the cusp of the rev limiter at 6150rpm.
All this fire and fury is accompanied by a beautifully brutal V8 roar courtesy of an active exhaust which tweaks the pulsing note it produces according to drive mode and throttle position. It’s hard not to love it, complete with rude pops and crackles on the over-run.
Beware though, this car is relatively loud all the time, so you’ve got to hope the love affair is a long-term one.
Suspension is by a short and long arm (SLA) and upper A-arms at the front, with a five-link set-up at the rear, and Bilstein adaptive dampers all around.
The switch between Comfort and Sport is swift and marked, with the latter best kept for billiard tables and race circuits. Around town ride in the more compliant setting is agreeably smooth.
Push the big 300 along your favourite backroad and you know you’re asking two tonnes of metal, rubber and glass to move against its will.
The eight-speed auto responds well in manual mode (with wheel-mounted paddles), and the grippy sports front seats do decent job of keeping their occupants stable and balanced, but the sheer mass of this car means you’re never going to get a corner-carving hot hatch-like experience.
And despite a chunky, leather-trimmed sports wheel, the hydraulically-assisted ‘SRT Tuned’ steering isn’t exactly the last word in road feel or sharp response.
Having said that, the fat 20-inch (245/45) Goodyear Eagle F1 rubber grips hard with minimal impact on ride quality, and in a more relaxed mode the SRT is a stress-free and comfortable tourer.
Big acceleration is balanced by big brakes, with beefy ventilated rotors (360mm fr / 350mm rr) clamped by Brembo four-piston calipers front and rear.
The system’s outright power is impressive but can be abrupt on initial application at around town speeds, until you get used to greasing the pedal pressure in.
‘SRT Performance Pages’ allows you to scroll through multiple real-time data screens (timers, G-force, engine performance, etc), which is fun, with outputs downloadable to a USB stick or SD card. The 19-speaker harman/kardon audio system absolutely cranks, and the active cruise control works intuitively, without the frustrating conservatism (taking forever to pick up the throttle) of some other systems
Having spent time in both variants, it's fair to say you probably don't need the GT with the extra grunt, but it is a nicer car overall.
That's because the GT gets the additional 35kW and 100Nm - increases of 15 and 40 per cent, respectively - which translates to a considerably more urgent response under hard throttle. It's a quick car, let down a bit by the eight-speed automatic transmission which has a tendency to hang on to gears if you decide to back off the throttle, letting the revs linger higher than you might want.
The lower-output engine is suitable for meeting the requirements of the vast majority of buyers in this part of the market, with decent pulling power and rolling response, but there's a bit of low-rev lag to contend with.
The 508's drive mode system allows you to choose between Sport, Normal and Comfort modes for the steering, transmission and throttle calibration, and the GT's version also adjusts the car's adaptive dampers. You can notice it more at higher speeds on bumpy roads - in Sport mode, the GT's 19s can be a touch terse, where comfort allows a little more in the way of bump-soak through the suspension.
The GT-Line on 18s felt reasonably judged in terms of suspension, with a slightly firm edge to the ride. I'm very intrigued as to how each will cope with Australia's, ahem, poorer road surfaces.
I like the small steering wheel and it feels pretty agile for a car of this size, with pretty nippy steering at higher speeds. It is a little lifeless in terms of feel, though, so enthusiasts may be left wanting more.
One thing that stood out was how quiet it was. Admittedly our drive wasn't on coarse-chip roads like those so prominent in Australia, but the cabin was nicely muted at freeway pace, rather well insulated from road and wind noise, and the engine - which sounded pretty snarly under hard throttle - was hushed enough in more sedate moments.
The 300 SRT hasn’t been assessed by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, but the NHTSA in North America has given the 2019 Chrysler 300 a four-star safety rating (from a possible five).
In terms of active tech a lot of major boxes are ticked, with AEB a notable exception.
Standard features include, ABS, ‘Ready Alert Braking’ (primes system when driver lifts off the brake pedal quickly), ESC, ‘Electronic Roll Mitigation’, traction control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, and advanced brake assist.
A ‘Rain Brake Support’ function is triggered by the rain-sensing wiper system to periodically ‘wipe off’ the brake rotors with the brake pads, keeping them as dry as possible in the wet. And Chrysler has cleverly piggy-backed ‘Knock Back Mitigation’ into the arrangement.
In aggressive cornering front wheel assemblies can flex, pushing the brake rotor against the brake pads and ‘knocking’ them back into the caliper, potentially leading to an alarmingly long pedal the next time the brakes are applied. Not a factor in the 300 SRT, with the pads automatically pushed up into their optimum position.
If, despite all that, a crash is unavoidable, the airbag count runs to seven (dual front, dual front side, dual curtain and driver’s knee), and the front head restraints are active.
There are three child seat/baby capsule top tether points across the back seat, with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer rear positions.
At the time of writing, the new-generation version of the Peugeot 508 hadn't been tested by Euro NCAP or ANCAP, so we can't vouch for its safety rating. But the brand says it "offers a wide range of latest-generation driving aids that notably meet EuroNCAP criteria, which are ever more demanding".
Every model globally is fitted with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection (up to 140km/h), a reversing camera, plus there are available advanced items like a Night Vision system (infrared camera), a 360-degree camera with parking sensors all around and semi-autonomous parking assist.
Other tech items expected to be offered include: adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, driver fatigue alert, high-beam assist, speed limit recognition, and active blind-spot monitoring (with intervention). There are six airbags, too.
Because we don't know what we'll get in Australia, and what will be standard or optional, we've gone with an 8/10 here.
The warranty world has moved significantly in recent months, and the 300 SRT’s three year/100,000km warranty is now well off the pace.
Kia moved to seven years/unlimited km in 2014, and there are whispers of the Korean brand shifting to 10 years sooner rather than later.
Service is required every 12 months/12,000km, and no capped price servicing program is currently offered.
With the caveat that labour rates will inevitably vary between dealerships, Chrysler Australia estimates five year standard servicing cost at $2590 (including GST).
The warranty period offered by Peugeot is now five years/unlimited kilometres, and you get the same cover for roadside assist, too.
The brand also has a capped-price service program, known as its Service Price Promise, which covers up to nine years/180,000km. The service intervals for the current 508 model are every 12 months or 20,000km, which is nice and generous.
While service pricing isn't confirmed yet for the new model, it is expected that the costs will be higher than some of the mainstream competition. The existing model averaged $605 per service - double some rivals. So unless it's considerably more affordable for the new model, we're lopping some points off for that.