THE updated Peugeot 508 arrives with price increases accompanied by extra features, an uprated entry-level engine, and styling tweaks showing the French brand’s new face.
WHAT IS IT?
Peugeot’s biggest passenger car – the successor to greats such as the 504, 505 and 406, and the not-so-great 407 – gets an update. It’s available in sedan or wagon (Tourer) body styles, with the engine – either a turbo-petrol or two different-sized turbo-diesels – determined by trim grade. The wagon is available in mid-spec Allure and top-spec GT, but not base Active.
WHY WE'RE TESTING IT
This is the first facelift for the 508 since it was launched locally in mid-2011. Key changes are a new touchscreen interface, longer standard equipment lists and an improved engine for the base model.
THE WHEELS VERDICT
No major faux pas, but likeable rather than loveable
PLUS: Decent dynamics in GT guise; smooth steering; spacious cabin; extra gear
MINUS: Price increases; underdamped front suspension of regular models; storage options; road noise
THE WHEELS REVIEW
IF YOU’RE still waiting for that big Peugeot passenger car that invokes the long-legged, long-hauling traits of the 504 and 406, don’t get up yet.
Peugeot has given its 508 a first makeover three years after it replaced the unmemorable 407 and 607, though updates don’t extend to suspension finessing. So, while the 508 remains on a petite list of recent Pugs that can’t be described as riding poorly and are capable of fairly supple progress on motorways, the word ‘plush’ escapes this context once again.
However, additional comfort can be found in other ways with the 2015 update. As part of a model range repositioning, extra equipment has been added that is worth more than the price increases introduced. The entry-level Active benefits the most, jumping $1000 to $37,990 but gaining features valued at $4000.
Settling into the 508’s relaxing driver’s seat, you now look at a 7.0-inch touchscreen rather than a small, monochromatic rectangle of Casio calculator fonts; select reverse gear and the display switches to the new rear-view camera; press Nav and there’s now-standard satellite mapping.
Blind-spot monitoring and a head-up display are also in the mix if you step up to the $45,990 Allure (HUD optional) or $58,490 GT.
LED daytime running daylights have been added to the overhauled front design, the 508’s edgier-looking headlights and sleeker grille inspired by the Exalt concept car.
Peugeot has also aimed to bring a more horizontal look to the bonnet, which has added 16mm to the front overhang. With rear overhang also greater, by 22mm, the body is 38mm longer overall. There’s no extra space inside, but the 508 still provides plenty of space ahead of the knees and above the head for a six-footer sitting in the back behind their own driving position.
Cabin storage remains a weak point, and the 508’s design would welcome an injection of the sophisticated minimalism of the 308’s interior. There are still too many buttons, including those for key functions that make the touch aspect of the touchscreen seem redundant at times.
Paddleshift levers are also new, and worth using in the petrol-only base Active that now features a more powerful and more economical 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder. They’re the best way to enjoy this refined and rorty unit, which now has 121kW (up 6kW).
Official combined fuel use has been reduced by 1.3L/100km to 5.8L/100km, effectively removing consumption as a point of difference for the alternative turbo-diesels, which are 5.7L/100km for both the 2.0-litre (Allure) and 2.2-litre (GT). You would instead pick these for their greater ability to tackle inclines or overtake with less effort, though only the GT is quicker than the petrol in the 0-100 stakes: 8.2 versus 8.9sec (2.0 diesel 9.2sec).
Steering is likeably linear across the range, though the GT – featuring double wishbones up front instead of the conventional struts of lower-spec models – remains the choice for keen drivers who aren’t tempted by the Mazda 6, Mondeo or Commodore.
Ride quality doesn’t deteriorate on the GT’s 19-inch wheels compared with the 17s of the base model, though the same road rumble and inability to take the edge off all bumps is consistent with the models below it.
This is a facelift that presents a smarter-looking 508 inside and out, without masking a platform linked to Peugeot’s recent past rather than the superior, lighter-weight new generation that has already turned the 208 and 308 into stars.
We’ll move to the edge of our seat in anticipation of the next big Peugeot sedan/wagon that might just have a chance of reviving the glories of its revered ancestors.
Model: Peugeot 508 Active
Engine: 1598cc, dohc, 16v, turbo
Max power: 121kW @ 6000rpm
Max torque: 240Nm @ 1400-4000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed auto
0-100km/h: 8.9sec (claimed)
On sale: Now