Sexy Pug Merc-fighter here!
PREMIUM PUG: Peugeot takes a convincing stride to breaking into the premium sedan market in South Africa with the launch of its 508.
Author: SERGIO DAVIDS
The 207 city car, LeMans 908 HDi racer and, more recently, the RCZ roadster... each exceptional and all produced by Peugeot yet the French automaker’s sales don’t reflect the brand’s potential. Blame brand perception – in Peugeot’s case, in SA at least, it is one of poor reliability, expensive servicing and costly parts.
To combat this Peugeot has taken the approach of “motion emotion”, which translates to" emotional, engaging vehicles", and has managed to achieve this with the launch of the 508 sedan in South Africa.
It comes in three models (Active, Allure and GT) with a choice of three engines – 1.6 petrol turbo, 2.0 HDi and the top-of-the-range 2.2 HDi GT. The 1.6 and the two-litre come with either a six-speed manual or auto gearbox, the 2.2 only with an auto.
An Allure package is available as an upgrade on the 1.6.
Prices start at R283 700 for the 1.6 (remember, it's a turbo), R303 200 for the 2.0 and R409 900 for the GT. Peugeot says the Allure model (R306 700) will be “a key seller” and replaces both the 407 and 607.
Peugeot’s latest design approach, revealed on the SR1 concept car, applies to the 508 and is characterised by a single grille flanked by bi-xenon headlights with distinctive LED "tubes" on the 508 GT.
STUNNING DESIGN: The front may be a little timid but the rear is stunning especially with its "claw mark" LED lights. Note the missing chromed exhausts on the Allure model compared to the GT.
Design-wise the 508 exudes style and confidence, not surprising given it rides on sister ship Citroen's C5 platform. The 508 has the brand’s new logo and front design as seen on the RCZ but I’m not sold on the front... it comes across as timid, though its assertive design is a vast improvement over the “bubble” face of the brand’s previous models.
The rear is stunning with its square Bentley-esque shape and sleek lines. Overall it’s an elegant vehicle, not the best-looking sedan in its class (that honour belongs to Hyundai’s Sonata) but it’s sporty and stylish enough to be a head-turner.
The GT benefits from chromed-edge windows, a glossy black grill, special alloy rims and chromed exhausts. Peugeot's new styling template shows design maturity for the brand and moves away from French art towards German elegance.ACTIVE MODELS
The 1.6 petrol and the 2.0 diesel are the entry models in the 508 range and the former’s sub-R300 000 price emphasises value for money in the premium sedan segment.
The 1.6 turbo engine produces 115kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm at 1400rpm and, Peugeot says, is capable of 6.4 litres/100km. It lacks oomph but, overall, delivers a fun, capable and highly engaging drive. You don’t get a sense that you’re driving a large sedan but rather a spirited hatchback. The Active models lack the sports suspension of the GT but are still capable of superb handling.
The Active 2.0 HDi is the entry-level turbodiesel member of the 508 family: 120kW at 3750rpm and a substantial 340Nm from 2000-3000rpm. Like its petrol counterpart the two-litre engine drives a a six-speed manual gearbox and has a fuel consumption of 4.9 litres/100 km.AUTO ALLURE
The 508 1.6 Allure is offered linked to a six-speed auto with a marginal increase in fuel consumption at 7.1/100km. The Allure version of the 508 has all the standard equipment of the Active package but borrows elements and features of the GT - more on that later... FLAGSHIP GT
In line with its flagship status, the 508 GT has the most powerful engine in the range. The all-new, four-cylinder 2.2 HDi turbodiesel produces 150kW at 3500rpm and maximum torque of 450Nm at 2000rpm. The six-speed auto delivers flawless shifts and overall the GT is rather frugal with a claimed fuel consumption of 5.7 litres/100km (combined cycle).
The GT presents drivers with exemplary handling courtesy of its double wishbone suspension which delivers precision driving and an enjoyable ride. Try as you might, the GT will hug the road. Put your foot down and you’ll be treated to grin-inducing power, enough to please any boy-racer.
For those who want a more engaging experience you can deactivate the ESP, while stationary, though as soon as the car's nanny PC senses you’re trying to do something it deems “naughty”, i.e slide-ways action, the ESP will automatically switch back on. ELEGANT INTERIOR
Inside is where the cars truly shine. Quality finishes, minor use of chromed accents and soft leather gives the cabin a high level of sophistication and stunning design. The Audi-esque carbon-fibre strip along the fascia is a nice touch. You get a sense that everything was designed to be not only functional but also pleasing on the eye.
A slick multimedia system, head-up info display on the windscreen and chunky steering-wheel chock full of controls are great touches. Though there are a few quirky design elements.
The head-up controls are accessible via a driver’s-side stowage compartment so adjustment is a tedious process.
Another quirky touch, though one I quite like, is the boot release being the zero in the 508 badge.
INTUITIVE CONTROLS: The interior reflects the striking design of the 508 with sensibly placed controls with leather trim and chromed highlights.
Interior space is abundant and the boot quite spacious. The GT model benefits from a seat-position memory and massage function.
The Allure model adds 17" alloy rims, keyless entry and start and power seat adjustment. The dials gain a digital colour display instead of the standard amber version and rear passengers benefit from retractable blinds on the rear windows. This model can also be ordered with satnav which is linked to an improved audio system and a central controller.
The interior of the GT is upholstered in full leather and the colour HUD as well as satnav.
The GT also benefits from front parking sensors in addition to the rear sensors of its siblings.
Sadly, the only colours available will be grey, black, white and greyish-blue.OVERALL
Peugeot says it hopes to take on the Honda Accord, Volvo S60 and Mazda 6. The common thread between them is a reputation for reliability, a serious target for Peugeot. As a premium sedan it’s capable of taking on even the German powerhouse trio of BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi’s A4.
Overall it’s a competitive alternative to its Bavarian, Swedish and Japanese counterparts. Its got enough character and road presence to stand out in the sedan pack and its superb handling and power (the latter more in the GT) will have buyers grinning each time they get behind the wheel.
The French automaker has tried for many years to break into the premium D segment market and the 508 sedan takes a pretty convincing stride towards that goal.PRICING
508 Active 1.6 THP - R283 700
508 Active 2.0 HDi - R303 200
508 Allure 1.6 THP - R306 700
508 Allure 1.6 THP with satnav - R323 700
508 GT 2.2 HDi - R409 900
A three-year or 100 000km warranty and a five-year or 100 000km maintenance plan are included. Service intervals 20 000km.