New Peugeot 508 Matches The Competition From Audi, BMW or Mercedes
When it comes to cars, why do so many drivers have such a hang-up about brands and badges? What actually happened to us and when did the logo on the key fob take on a whole identity of its own and become more important than the car we actually put the key in?
Premium used to mean that something was good; it never meant it had to be made by a certain company, but nowadays we seem to think a car isn’t good and that it’s not prestigious unless it’s made by Mercedes, BMW or Audi? Well, fact is, that’s not only totally illogical, but it’s wrong and we’ve just tested a car that proves exactly that point.
Ok, I know I might be trying to push water uphill for some of you reading this, but for the others that have an open mind and choose their cars for what they do, what they offer and what they cost you probably already know that the ubiquitous German trio doesn’t have a monopoly on making high quality cars.
Attractive and desirable cars that are easy to live with and great to own are everywhere and let me introduce you to one that fits that bill exactly, but one you are probably not aware of because it’s the new kid on the block, as its only being launched this month.
The car is the new Peugeot 508 and what a stunning looking thing it is. Ranging from £17,970 up to £29,765, the new 508 replaces both the 407 and the bigger 607 and its pricing sits it fair and square alongside its competitors. With 5 trim levels and 4 engine choices across 6 power levels, you can pretty much pick your 508 to fit your budget.
But before we run headlong into the car itself, let’s just take this chance to take a look at its pedigree and tell you just a touch about the people who make it.
We all know Henry Ford was producing cars in the early 1900’s but frankly, Henry was actually new at the game compared to Peugeot, who were building horse drawn carriages as far back as 1869, and producing petrol engined cars by 1890 and comfortable ones by 1892, as they became the first car maker in the world to fit rubber tyres.
Most of you won’t know this, but Peugeot have been absolute innovators, with so many “worlds firsts” to their name. As far back as 1912, Peugeot were building ‘quad cam, 4 valve cylinder engines’ and in 1931, Peugeot made the first car in the world with ‘independent front suspension’. Surprisingly, by 1934, Peugeot developed the world’s first coupe cabriolet with an electrically retractable ‘hard top’ roof (a system still popular today on the 206CC and 307CC and subsequently copied by everybody else!). Turbo Diesels are common place now, but who produced the first one? Yes you’ve guessed it, Peugeot.
As for the new Peugeot 508, well if it were a beauty contest, this car would be winning it all day long, as it is a particularly attractive thing from every angle and it just looks elegant, understated, well engineered and expensively put together.
That does not change when you take a look inside the car either, in fact, it gets even more impressive and I have to say, the discreet yet tasteful interior just feels so tactile and so precisely put together that it leaves both BMW and Audi and of course the much heralded new Passat gasping for breath.
It’s clear that the guys at Peugeot have devoted an enormous amount of thought into making the new 508 a bit special and its interior as fine as it could possibly be. Well, the plan has worked, because they have simply come up with something that’s so desirable that even my cheque book is trying to escape from my jacket and head in the direction of our local Peugeot dealer!
There comes a point in each review that we do where we either expect things to get better if we haven’t been impressed so far, or worse, if we’ve been way, way too impressed at what we’ve already seen because often we find that we have a great looking car that frankly falls down when we use it, or a bland and uninteresting car that drives absolutely beautifully. It’s not often we find ourselves where we do with the new 508, as on getting behind the wheel, even our steepest expectations have been satisfied and it’s pretty clear this is one of those cars that come along ever so occasionally where everything is pretty much right.
Built on the same basic chassis as sister company Citroen’s latest C5, but with a different suspension, the 508 gets MacPherson strut front suspension with a multi-link independent set up at the rear ensuring both great handling and a super silky ride. Only the 2.2GT version gets different suspension with what’s referred to as “technically more accomplished upper and lower wishbones at the front end”.
Engine options are a choice of two 1.6 VTi turbocharged petrol units producing either 120bhp or 156bhp and they are both impressively smooth, but somehow almost unimportant, as the majority of 508’s sold in the UK are likely to be diesel powered and for that, the choices are the 1.6 HDi producing 112bhp, a 2.0 HDi producing a choice of either 140bhp or 163bhp and finally a top of the range 2.2 HDi producing a whacking 204bhp.
Power gets to the wheels with a choice of 4 gearboxes, depending on the engine specification you choose, but broadly they range from a five speed manual, a six speed manual, or a couple of automatics, one an “automated manual” and the other a conventional six-speed automatic (both of which have paddle shifts).
It’s claimed that with its stop and start system, the most eco-friendly of the 508s has emissions as low as 109g/km with the heaviest output being 154g/km. Fuel wise, the 1.6 e-HDi FAP unit can return an extremely impressive 67.2mpg on the combined cycle and that’s a lot for a car of its size.
For the future, we are promised a full hybrid version of the 508 coming some time next year producing 200bhp and a stunningly low CO2 of 99g/km and for those rear wheel drive aficionados well it’s going to be a pusher and not a puller like the rest of the range and I for one, can’t wait to try that car.
There will be five trim levels, Access, SR, Active, Allure and GT.
First drive in the 508 was pretty impressive, particularly as it wasn’t any kind of pre-production model set up for us to try. The 508 had no rattles and squeaks and so the quiet and refined ride is just what you can expect to get from the car if you buy one. We tried the 2.0HDi 140bhp version and were more than impressed with the car’s power and the way it developed it. Whether its down to the car’s soundproofing or not, we found the interior really quiet and relaxing, with very little engine noise. The 508 is a big car, it’s not a street racer and with that in mind, we felt the 508 handled superbly both when cornering and under even the heaviest braking. The driver’s seat is a nice place to be and it’s extremely easy to sort yourself a seating and steering position that will ensure you are comfortable.
We would like to have had longer than just one day with the new 508, so this has been just a micro-test but we will come back later in the year and give you the full SP on how the 508 has performed long term, but frankly, at the moment I can’t see we are going to have a great change of heart, because there is no doubt that Peugeot have not just produced a car that will do the job in the new 508, but have produced a proper car that you won’t be just happy to live with, but a car that you’re actually going to want to live with. Well done Peugeot.
The official UK launch of the new Peugeot 508 is on 28th April 2011, so get yourself down to your local Peugeot showroom and take a look and just by way of a tip, do that before you put pen to paper on anything else or “you’ll be sorry!”
For a quotation on the new Peugeot 508 or on any other car in the Peugeot range, please contact us.