FEW AUSTRALIAN FAMILY BUYERS UNDERSTAND JUST HOW MUCH EUROPEANS LOVE WAGONS SUCH AS THE 2016 PEUGEOT 508 TOURING - and, possibly, neither do they care.
Here, it is Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) that occupy buyers' affections.
Peugeot however has come a long way in recent times, offering new products that are good enough to wipe away bad memories of the company’s mediocre new-millennium era. The 308 Touring is one such vehicle; the larger 508 Touring tested here however - now at the end of its model cycle - carries a bit of 'baggage' it could do without.
This model is basically a facelift of a generation that launched locally in 2011, and, on the face of it, offers greater space and frugality than many similarly priced medium SUV models.
The mountain that lies ahead of the 508, however, concerns its age and newer rivals that have dramatically raised specification in an attempt to draw family buyers back into the dwindling medium wagon segment.
So, has Peugeot done enough with the 508?
Vehicle Style: Medium wagon
Price: $48,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 120kW/340Nm 2.0 4cyl turbo diesel | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 5.5 l/100km | Tested: 10.4 l/100km
Peugeot doesn’t provide the most convincing value equation with the 508 Touring Allure. Priced from $48,990 plus on-road costs, it isn’t exactly cheap yet it lacks specification compared with its best wagon rivals.
The highlight is four-zone climate control and full leather trim with front seat heating and electric adjustment. However, the brand charges $2250 to replace the daggy halogen headlights with an LED variety plus auto high-beam.
Similarly, another $1650 is required for a colour head-up display, JBL premium audio system and acoustic windows. On the safety front, only a blind-spot monitor is a standout.
A recently updated Mazda6 GT Touring, for example, includes LED/colour head-up display/premium Bose audio and even rear heated seats from $46,890 (plus orc). Compared with the 120kW/340Nm diesel fitted here, that Japanese rival also features a 129kW/420Nm diesel.
Indeed, the French brand reserves the allegedly more premium 133kW/400Nm version of the same engine for the 508 GT Touring at an eye watering $60,790 (plus orc) – around $15K beyond the almost identically specified Mazda6. Merde!
- Standard Equipment: power windows and mirrors, multi-function trip computer, quad-zone climate control air-conditioning, leather trim with power adjustable and heated front seats, cruise control, auto on/off headlights/wipers, keyless auto-entry with push button start and electric tailgate
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB input, AM/FM radio, 8GB hard disc drive, satellite navigation and 8-speaker audio
- Cargo Volume: 612 litres (rear backrest up), 1817L (rear backrest folded)
In some ways the Peugeot 508 feels like a French version of a Toyota Camry. While both brands could take offence to that statement, there really is no need to.
This current Peugeot medium car isn’t brimming with flair, but after five years its interior has aged extremely well and in terms of both choice of materials and overall finish, the 508 Touring Allure remains up there with the best.
Its front seats are broad and supportive, with good side bolstering. Vertical doorhandles fall neatly to hand and feel solid to the touch. In fact, everything feels solid in here.
The rear seat is equally as comfortable, and there is plenty of legroom further aided by a ‘floating’ centre console that doesn’t require a middle-rear rider to splay feet either side of where the airvents and (in this case) climate controls are.
The dashboard and door trims are awash with soft-touch plastics and the addition of Peugeot’s newest infotainment system is a pleasing one: where newer models such as the 308 attempt to pack climate controls/nav/audio onto the touchscreen, the older 508 still has shortcut buttons on its dash and climate controls on the lower dash, which makes it far more intuitive to use.
Where the 508 also shows its age is with storage space, which is poor. There is simply no space at all to place a smartphone, because the centre console bin is too squeezy and a console tray can barely fit the key. There are pop-out cupholders, but as the first part of the name suggests, they fit a coffee but not a water bottle.
A dated monochromatic trip computer display is another sign of the times, while the button fest on the steering wheel makes little sense when volume controls are on the left, but a track-change scroll wheel on the right is labelled identically to the trip computer scroll wheel back on the other side.
Unfortunately, a lot of these minor ergonomic misses makes up a greater, more disappointing whole.
Thankfully, however, the 508 scores most where its Touring label is applied. A standard electric tailgate opens to a sizeable, square space with a volume of 612 litres - among the most in the medium wagon segment. There’s a 12-volt outlet, seat-fold latches and a luggage net back there, and they’re all standard.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 120kW/340Nm 2.0 4cyl turbo diesel
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, independent rear
- Brakes: Ventilated front and rear disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering, 11.9m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 1475kg maximum
When pulling to a standstill at the first set of traffic lights, it quickly becomes apparent that Peugeot’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder isn’t the smoothest turbo-diesel engine around. Vibrations filter through the steering wheel at idle, backed by a distant yet noticeable clatter that only settles at speed.
The six-speed automatic is the star of the show, proving fluent shifts and intelligent ratio selection. The Sport mode doesn’t do a lot, but using the paddleshifters in manual mode can be useful in keeping the oiler on the ball.
With a kerb weight of 1540kg, and just 340Nm at 2000rpm - less torque than a Holden Commodore 3.6-litre petrol V6 – the 508 Touring Allure feels tractable but uninspiring. A below average 120kW of power comes on stream at 3750rpm.
The 9.5-second 0-100km/h claim feels about right, but of course the more potent 133kW/400Nm diesel in the 508 Touring GT brings that time down to a more respectable sub-9sec and is more deserving of a place in a $50K vehicle.
Without stop-start technology, the underpowered diesel also used quite a bit more fuel than we were expecting on test (10.5 litres per 100 kilometres) and it often feels (and sounds) like it’s working hard.
The other feature reserved for the 508 GT is more sophisticated multi-link front suspension. Although only back-to-back testing could reveal the differences, the simpler front strut set-up in this 508 Touring struggles to provide the ride comfort expected of a French load lugger.
Body control is excellent, however, so whether tackling big speed humps or scarred country tarmac, this Peugeot scores. The downside is constantly fidgety and restless behaviour particularly at low speeds, and no doubt the low-profile 18-inch tyres can take some blame here.
Safe and secure handling is impressive to a point, but the 508 Touring lacks the verve and sharpness that a Mazda6 GT can provide.
The Peugeot’s old-school hydraulically assisted power steering also hisses when parking, and feels awfully dull and heavy until higher speeds when it lightens its load. Really, its behaviour should be the other way around.
There is also little in the way of driver assistance aids in this ageing Peugeot, with adaptive cruise control reserved for the 508 GT and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) isn’t available at all.
ANCAP rating: Not tested.
Safety Features: Dual front, side and curtain airbags, ABS and ESC, front and rear parking sensors, reverse-view camera and blind-spot monitor.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km.
Servicing: Capped price program extends over five years or 75,000km at a total servicing cost of $3105, or a higher than average $621 per dealership check-up.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
A Holden Calais V Sportwagon may sport a thirstier petrol engine, but it’s a sweeter drive. The Mazda6 Atenza and Subaru Outback offer a value equation hard to ignore, while the new Volkswagen Passat 140TDI offers polish missing from its fellow European tested here
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
There is a fundamentally good car hiding inside the Peugeot 508 Touring and fundamentally good reasons to pick the French wagon over a similarly sized and priced medium SUV.
We don’t think it’s too much to expect the GT’s more powerful diesel, superior front suspension and greater level of equipment to be provided for around $50,000 - but clearly Peugeot does.
Unfortunately, this 508 Touring Allure offers a less-refined and less-torquey diesel than the competition, teamed with jittery ride quality and fewer features.
Its cabin has held up well and the rear boot remains outstanding, but it doesn’t total enough to warrant a pricing premium.