2019 Peugeot 508Source:Supplied
Peugeot is pushing upmarket and the 508 GT is the brand’s best effort to date in presenting itself as a prestige player. Fastback or wagon, the 508 looks great inside and out, goes and handles well and has more standard kit than you’ll find in other European brands for $53,990 plus on-roads (add $2000 for the wagon).
Highlights include the high-set 12.3-inch digital driver’s display, 10-inch infotainment screen, climate controlled front seats with a massage program, smartphone mirroring, tinted windows, adaptive cruise control, adaptive dampers and leather upholstery.
More importantly, there’s an instant feel of precise execution every time you get behind
the wheel. That said, I’m not a fan of the carbon-fibre effect rubberised plastic on the layered dash.
2019 Peugeot 508 Fastback: From $54K, has more standard gear than other European brandsSource:Supplied
Look at what’s in the 508 and you’re not going to find specification to match it on an entry level rival, so the Pug is kicking goals on the style and value fronts.
On other fronts — such as seeking prestige status and sustaining resale values — Peugeot is working hard.
That’s one of the reasons the 508 is being sold here only in top-spec GT form. It’s a deliberate strategy to position the brand as an upmarket proposition and avoid the discounts employed by lower-specified brands.
The five-year warranty is intended to offset any concerns over reliability and the five-year capped servicing works out to $700 a year — expensive by mainstream standards; competitive in the prestige ranks.
Fastback: The 508 comes only in top GT gradeSource:Supplied
As for the car itself, the only quibble is the location and size of the smartphone charging pad. The tray nestles forward and beneath the transmission lever, accompanied by a pair of USB ports.
It’s hard to identify at first, then loading the phone in isn’t intuitive but the biggest issue is the size of the pad — it doesn’t accommodate the largest current smartphones and that issue will only get bigger, as the phones do, in the next few years.
ANCAP gave the 508 a five-star rating last year, with a score of 96 per cent for adult occupants, 87 per cent for kids in the car and 71 per cent for vulnerable road users (the AEB software was judged “weak” for detecting pedestrians at night).
Its 76 per cent active safety rating was also affected by the pedestrian-detection result.
On the upside, the lane-keep assist was judged good in every scenario except an unmarked road edge, which is better than some rivals.
Most modern cars with push-button start cars take little more than a stab to ignite. The 508 states its individuality by requiring more determined pressing to activate the 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo. It’s a statement of intent and the 508 delivers on most fronts.
508 cabin: Makes a style statement with large displays, leather trim and signature small wheelSource:Supplied
The adaptive suspension is softer in its default mode than German counterparts — this is an asset around town and on broken back roads and it doesn’t affect your ability to point the car where you want it.
Switch into Sport mode and the Pug holds its own on country roads, accompanied by a more aggressive suspension tune that is still surprisingly forgiving over big hits.
The steering is direct rather than communicative, which is apparently the preferred option for regular Euro cars. The small steering wheel is standard Peugeot fare but still takes getting used to for infrequent drivers.
Outputs from the turbo are respectable (165kW/300Nm) and it takes a concerted effort to fluster power delivery to the front wheels.
On the limit, the BMW 4 Series may have more poise than the 508 but very few buyers of either car will ever push their vehicles to that extent.
Wagon: More space, at a $2K premium, and the nominal Euro rivals don’t have a five-doorSource:Supplied
Where the 508 excels is in the mundane conditions that constitute 95 per cent of driving. It is responsive off the line, soaks up bumps, is light to steer and predictable in its reaction to any input.
Front or back, the seats are supportive — as in almost every car in this segment, the middle rear isn’t for long-term occupancy.
The active safety software is unobtrusive and the adaptive cruise control is one of the better set-ups we’ve tried of late.
Deceleration as it detects a car in front is linear rather than late-braking and acceleration is equally progressive.
The five-year warranty and this level of kit at this price make the 508 a must-test prospect, regardless of the badge.
The 508 stands a serious chance of returning Peugeot to mainstream attention in Australia after years on the outer.
Audi A5 40 TFSI, $70,100 plus on-roads
The A5 has comparable performance and a comparable body style but the standard gear doesn’t come close.
Mercedes-Benz CLA 200, $58,500 plus on-roads
The four-door coupe is as close as Benz now gets to a compact fastback body. The palatable price will mount if you specify it to match the 508.
BMW M4 Gran Coupe 420i, $70,900 plus on-roads
Quicker and more efficient, the BMW also packs most of the 508’s key features … at a significantly higher price.
Stylish, sharp to drive and highly specified, the Peugeot 508 GT deserves more than consideration in the premium ranks. The badge means sales probably won’t equate to quality … but that’s the buyers’ mistake.
PRICE $53,990 plus on-roads
WARRANTY/SERVICING 5 years/unlimited km, 3507 for 5 years/100,000km
SAFETY 6 airbags, AEB, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist
ENGINE 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo, 165kW/300Nm
THIRST 6.3L/100km (95 RON)