What’s hot: Smooth, quiet, economical sedan with sharp new looks
What’s not: Big price gap to the diesel variants, cramped back seats
X-FACTOR: The ‘forgotten’ large car, but the updated 508 could put it back on the map
Vehicle style: Large Sedan/Wagon
Price: $37,990 (Active petrol sedan) - $61,490 (GT Touring diesel wagon)
Engine/trans: 121kW/240Nm 1.6 petrol, 120kW/340Nm 2.0 diesel, (GT variants - 150kW/450Nm 2.2 diesel) | 6spd auto
Fuel consumption l/100km listed: 1.6 petrol - 5.6, 2.0 diesel - 5.4 | tested: petrol - 9.1, diesel - 7.3
Peugeot’s updated 508 has arrived in Australia, bringing refreshed styling, better engines and improved fuel economy.
The 508 picks up a sharp new look for 2015, using Peugeot’s current corporate ‘face’ arguably to better effect than any of the French carmaker’s other models.
The 508 sits in the 'large car' VFACTS segment, but in truth straddles both large and medium market segments.
Think Kia Optima, Skoda Octavia or Mazda6 against the petrol-powered entry-level Active, and various Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class or even Lexus ES variants against the range-topping GT (Peugeot’s flagship model in Australia).
Peugeot refers to its new 508 as an ‘executive’ model, and provides a good spread of variants across a $24,000-odd price range.
The sedan-only, entry-level 1.6 litre petrol Active model kicks off the range at $37,990, followed by the 2.0 litre diesel Allure available in sedan ($45,990) or Touring wagon ($48,990) - plus on-road costs.
A pair of GT models headline the range, with a more powerful 2.2 litre diesel engine available in both sedan ($58,490) and Touring wagon ($61,490) plus on-roads.
We drove the 2015 Active 1.6 litre turbo-charged petrol and the 2.0 litre turbo-diesel-powered Allure models to see how they stack up.
Prices for the 508 range have risen by a minimum $1000 for the new model, but Peugeot says it has added over $3000 of extra value to some models.
All 508s now get a seven-inch touchscreen, reversing camera, LED daytime running lights and fog-lights along with rear sunblinds as standard.
There’s also an electric boot release for the sedans, an 8GB ‘jukebox’ and rear map lights, while the Allure adds blind-spot monitoring.
Step up to the GT, and you’ll get leather sports seats with a massage function on the driver’s side.
Further safety features include the usual compendium of airbags, ABS with brake assist and stability control, while the GT adds tyre pressure monitors.
So a decent equipment list, but one you might expect for the price.
The front seats are comfortable and have electric adjustment on the Allure and GT, while the Active makes do with a manually-adjustable sliding rail.
Rear seats can be a little cramped if the front seats are all the way back, but will otherwise accommodate two or three adults in comfort.
The rear seats also contain ISOFIX child restraint fittings in both outer seat bases.
The sedan boot holds 497 litres with the rear seats in place, rising to 1533 litres with the seats folded.
From the driver’s seat, there’s a stylish steering wheel allowing a clear view of the instrument cluster which features an ‘odd’ numbered speedometer and an analogue oil-temperature gauge.
Dual-zone climate control is fitted to the Active, while the Allure and GT get a quad-zone setup with individual adjustment for rear seat passengers.
The eight-speaker audio system features Bluetooth and a USB port, while a JBL premium sound system is optional on the Allure and GT.
Drawbacks include a lack of bottle holders in the front door-pockets, with front seat passengers given two sliding holders that emerge from the dash but which are really only designed for cups.
The glove box is just that - a small but deep box handy for storing glove-sized items - and the park-brake lever in the Active is somewhat awkward to use.
The lever is on the passenger’s side in our right-hand-drive market and is angled towards the passenger. The up-spec Allure and GT models get an electric park-brake however which solves this problem.
Head-checks will need to be thorough, as the B-pillar is rather wide but otherwise the 508 offers good visibility.
Some will find the faux carbon-fibre pattern on the dash trim in the Allure a bit naff, while others will be pleased that Peugeot has done something a little different in this regard; it’s purely a matter of taste here.
For more details on the new model's interior features, see our companion Price & Features article.
ON THE ROAD
To sum the 508 up in one word would be ‘quiet’.
Our preview drive in Spain last year revealed a great highway cruiser, and thankfully this trait is also evident on our coarser Australian roads.
Peugeot's drive route included some rough-surfaced country secondary roads - ideal for exposing any harshness or weaknesses in ride quality - but the 508 passed with ease.
The softest ride is found in the Active with its 17-inch wheels, but the ride isn’t spoiled by stepping up to the Allure with its 18-inch rims (GT gets 19-inch wheels).
The ride is skewed towards the firm side, which would suit the roads of the 508’s French homeland but isn’t out of place in Australia for keen drivers.
It’s a fair compromise, and one we wouldn’t want to see reversed.
A six-speed automatic is the sole transmission choice, and all models come with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Matched with the 2.0 litre turbo-diesel in the Allure, the auto offers smooth shifting but can be somewhat keen to find the tallest ratio as soon as possible.
The 2.0 litre diesel unit in the Allure produces a respectable 120kW/340Nm and returns 5.4 l/100km. (Those figures are comprehensively outgunned by the GT’s 150kW/450Nm 2.2 litre engine which is slightly more economical at 5.3 l/100km.)
The new Euro VI emissions-compliant 1.6 litre turbocharged petrol engine makes the 508 Active the most economical petrol-powered car you can buy in the large passenger class in Australia, returning 5.6 l/100km.
That doesn’t mean it’s a slug, with a 0-100km/h time of 8.9 seconds. On road, both away from the line and when overtaking, we found its 121kW/240Nm output is certainly up to the task of hauling the 508 Active’s 1410kg kerb weight.
Kerb weights rise to 1520kg in the Allure sedan and 1540kg in the GT sedan, while the wagon models add 20 and 120kg respectively.
The petrol engine was jointly developed by BMW as part of PSA Peugeot Citroen’s e-THP family, and has won the International Engine Of The Year award for 1.4-1.8 litre engines eight years running.
It’s happiest when the turbocharger is in play, but driving around like that all day is going to see that average fuel figure rise.
Our test route included lengthy sections of road that would gain an enthusiast’s approval which called on the turbocharger for most of the day, and the on-test fuel figure of 9.1 l/100km reflected this.
Australian buyers will likely appreciate the 508’s fuel range, as both the sedan and wagon feature a decent-sized 72 litre fuel tank.
Besides economy, the 1.6 litre petrol engine’s party piece is its exhaust note, which provides a nice rasp under acceleration without excessive noise entering the cabin.
The 508 is confidently brought to a halt by 304mm ventilated discs up front (340mm on GT) and 290mm solid discs at the rear.
ANCAP rating: The 2015 Peugeot 508 retains its 5-Star safety rating from 2011, which carries over with this updated model.
Depending on the variant, the 508 features front, side and curtain airbags, ABS, brake assist, ESC, reversing camera, hill assist, LED headlamps, fog lamps, tyre pressure monitors and more.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
In the large passenger car class, the 508’s main rival is the Skoda Superb.
The updated Superb arrived in Australia midway through last year, bringing significant price cuts across the range which sees it undercut the 508 in every comparable variant.
The 508 is the fresher offering at this stage however, and is set to stay that way for around a year before an all-new Superb arrives in Australia in the first half of 2016.
The pricier diesel models put the 508 just below some entry-level offerings from Gemany’s ‘big three’, and in the same ballpark pricewise as the Lexus ES.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
The 2015 Peugeot 508 is a quiet, comfortable and capable cruiser, with a premium feel and room for a family.
It isn’t a sports car, nor does it offer acres of space everywhere you look, but it is a model that successfully straddles both the medium and large premium sedan/wagon segments.
Those looking for a statement in individuality who may otherwise have considered a ‘volume seller’ from another carmaker won’t be disappointed with this capable new model.
But the bugbear may be price, as the jump from the entry-level petrol to the cheapest diesel is sizable.
Unless you must have a diesel engine, the Active petrol sedan at $37,990 plus on-roads is probably the pick of the group.
Otherwise, the 2.2 litre diesel GT beckons, if you’re not deterred by the $58,490 (for the sedan) plus on-roads price tag.
MORE: Peugeot 508, 508 GT: 2015 Price And Features For Australia
MORE News & Reviews: Peugeot | 508 | Family Cars
Pricing (excluding on-road costs)
2015 PEUGEOT 508
- 508 Active - petrol 6spd auto - $37,990
- 508 Allure - diesel 6spd auto - $45,990
- 508 GT - diesel 6spd auto - $58,490
- 508 Allure Touring - diesel 6spd auto - $48,990
- 508 GT Touring - 6spd auto - $61,490