The Peugeot 508 replaces the outgoing 407 and as far as leaps forward go, this is a pretty large one. Peugeot’s main focus over the last few years has been to close the gap on the Germans – literally. Build quality, service and reliability have been a burden to them despite the often increased value for money they offer in specification and safety. The new 508 really does a job of posing adequate threat to the C-segment, especially in this the top of the range 2.2-litre diesel in GT spec.
As far as interiors go this one is hard to fault: the leather upholstery and surroundings make it a very upmarket place to sit. Nothing in the interior feels cheap and the only thing I would change is to give the gear knob a slightly more brushed aluminium feel as opposed to the tinted glass look it has. The shut lines and finish in this Pug look very respectable and the whole interior looks well-built and put together. It comes with a heads up display unit that is height adjustable and fully intergratable with the navigation system. Other nifty things inside the cabin include the massaging seats, which are fully adjustable via electronic switches. This high spec GT model is also fitted with the JBL audio system that doesn’t blow your mind with loud, clear sound like Harmon Kardon or Bose systems but is entirely adequate for someone who doesn’t want a rock concert inside the car. It’s also nice to see that the multi-function buttons on the steering wheel have been placed on and around the wheel. The buttons behind the wheel in other models takes some getting used to and relies a lot on your midi-chlorian count and strength with the Force.
Peugeot is thankfully stepping away from the massive braai grille-esque front end that hindered the 308 and 3008. This new design makes the front end quite aggressive as everything dovetails towards the point of the nose. The side profile makes the 508 look less sleek thanks to a bit of a bonnet bulge and high boot line. At the back though there’s lots to like and some not to like. The rear LED lights have been designed to look like a bear has swiped into the light cluster and look great, the housed dual tailpipes add a bit of muscle to its demeanour but the silver strip that runs mid-way through the boot is a touch weird. That bit is normally meant to sit on top of the boot lid isn’t it?
In a word: phenomenal. This is a shining beacon for diesel and the future. The 2.2-litre diesel combines economy, smoothness, power and quiet into one package. The acceleration is silky smooth for a diesel, there’s no sudden surge of power that tails off the instant it ignites. A very linear power band is unheard of in a turbodiesel and the 6-speed auto it’s mated to works seamlessly in the background enhancing the jerk free power delivery. All of this translates into an 8.24 second run to the 100kph benchmark and the in gear acceleration figures are also very respectable 60kph – 100kph comes up in 4.27 seconds and 80kph – 120kph in 5.29 seconds. On our economy run that combines highway and city driving conditions we notched up 6.4ℓ/100km – very good considering the capacity of the engine. It makes you wonder how much of this tech has been learned from competing in Le Mans with diesels since 2007.
This category may not be the entire point of this car but Peugeot has worked hard on improving the dynamics of the 508. For instance this GT model has a different front suspension setup to the rest of the range. It makes use of a drop link dual wishbone front axle that is meant to provide better steering accuracy and increase rigidity on the front. It has the effect of making the front end quite dynamic and changes of direction are tackled with competence and poise. The downside though is a slight detraction in ride comfort, the rebound damping can be quite harsh over potholes or deteriorating road surfaces. The steering has also been enhanced to provide continuous adjustments to the level of assistance depending on what sort of driving is undertaken. In parking lots it’s nice and light and when you send it through a few bends it stiffens up and provides suitable weight to the wheel.
The 508 GT is hard fault, it’s well specced and has luxurious interior. The exterior looks much improved over previous Peugeot models and the engine and ride is its best feature. It is priced well too, coming in cheaper than the equivalent Mercedes-Benz and with superior luxury and gadgets to the Honda Accord diesel. What this happens to be is a Peugeot I could happily recommend to someone looking for a good value, high end, C-segment sedan. Well done Peugeot.