Just picked up a 2012 508 GT Wagon and thought I would share my first impressions of the car. I’m coming from a 2010 Nissan X-trail ST-L and a 2005 HSV R8 before that, so my impressions will be based on those benchmarks.
It’s an interesting looking car. Nice sophisticated lines to it and in black it really looks very sleek in the wagon body. It is distinctly a pug, which is nice as a lot of cars these days are starting to lose their defining styling character.
The only issue with the outside is really more functional, with the driver side wiper contacting with the A-Pillar. Something I plan to address over the weekend as access to the wiper arm mount is quite good.
First things first; Very spacious! I am 6 foot 5 so the first test for any car I am interested in is the “can I fit” test. Of the cars I was looking at, Audi A4, Merc C250, VW Passat it is by far the most roomy when it comes to headroom. It’s probably on par with the Passat B8 in terms of overall cabin feel and then above the A4 and Merc.
I was also pleasantly surprised that with my drivers seat set up for me to drive in comfort and with no regard for the passenger behind me, I was able to fit, quick comfortably, in the seat behind the driver. It wasn’t exactly spacious, but at the same time I was very comfortable back there.
Design wise, I personally think it blows the Merc and Passat out of the water. Nice lines, brilliant piano black accents and everything generally where you would expect it. Only draw back with design is there is a LOT of buttons. A touch screen would have tidied this up which is something I would have found in the Passat and A4.
Finish wise, it all feels very well put together. Nice thick steering wheel, everything that opens and closes doesn’t feel like it will fall off for a while, no squeaks or rattles that I’ve noticed and most surfaces feel “premium”.
There are some immediately obvious issues:
1. The centre console lid rubs on the passenger seat when it’s opened which will eventually tarnish the leather.
2. The coating on the door handles was no match for the previous owners nails and is flaking off. I noticed it’s a coating similar to plastidip and the plastic under it seems to be black ABS. Worse case, I may try to remove all the coating and just have the black plastic. TBC.
The boot space seems to be quite good, though I will find out if I can fit my XL Mountain bike in the back this weekend.
On the flip side, storage is… none existent. I am coming from being spoilt for choice in my X-Trail where I could fit an entire roast chicken in the glove box, box of tissues and some mircofibre cloths in the storage cubby on top of the dash and various other items in the console bin. Also the 3008 my wife has the centre storage that I can fit my whole arm in. Great for transporting… err.. severed arms?
But in the 508, the glovebox is literally that, a spot to put your gloves. I can’t even fit the pouch with the manual and service details in there. This is a first to be honest. The centre console is about 50% used up having a USB stick plugged in and that is about it… I am literally trying to work out where to put the pouch with my manuals. With the spare tyre maybe?
The 508 I picked up had the upgraded Nappa seats, Power Tailgate and the JBL sound system with GPS.
The seats are fantastic! I can set it up perfect and the massage function, which I thought would be rather gimmicky, works quite well. The other thing I love is how soft the leather is. I’m not sure if this is specific to the 508 or now just standard in the pugs, but it is much softer feeling compared to my X-trail, my R8 and my wife’s 3008.
I can’t comment accurately on how it compared to the Audi, Merc and VW, but I don’t recall having that moment of “well, this feels nice” when I was in those so read into that what you will.
The GPS unit is horribly out of date. I built my house 5 years ago and my street doesn’t exist. Using the GPS will take a bit of time to get used to since when I look up contacts if gives me all my phone contacts mixed in with addresses. Not sure if I haven’t worked out how to filter this but it does make selecting “home” difficult. Using the dial to enter the address is also something that I’m not used to, but it seems efficient enough for now. The only issue is the sensitivity, I keep scrolling past the letter I need in the cases of using the dial to scroll or as a joystick to move Up, Down, Left, Right.
The sound system, which I was a bit worries about after reading some threads about it on here, is awesome! Nice deep sound and it delivers nice doses of bass when asked to. Both using the radio and playing music from a USB stick I had no issues with the audio quality. Very pleased with that.
Engine and Drivetrain
If I compare the 2.2L HDi in the 508 to the 2.0 HDi in my wifes 3008, it is a bit rougher at idle and that idle can be felt in the cabin a bit more when sitting at the lights. But as soon as we’re moving, fantastic engine!
It’s very “sensible” in how it revs and always seems to me to be avoiding breaking a sweet while getting me up and going as it’s asked. I turned off the music while cruising at 80kph and literally all I could hear in the cabin was some wind noise. I could have been in a hybrid for all I knew.
This will be great for parents with naughty children. If there is an in car disagreement the ultimate weapon for the driver will be to end the argument abruptly, turn off the stereo and make the other occupants think about what they have done in deafening silence.
Yet to see what the fuel economy is really like, but I guess that will have a direct correlation with how much fun I want to have with the paddle shift.
Which, to be honest, is probably not a lot as the gearbox is terrible. Slow, unresponsive and stupid.
In full auto when you are driving around sensible like it’s largely fine, though it takes a moment to wake up when I decide to go from accelerating slowly to accelerating quickly. But, overall when used with the purpose of a A to B run it’s fine.
The paddle-shifts, however, lull you into a false sense of being able to have some fun with their promise of sharp and responsive shifts. As does the completely pointless “S” mode, which simply seems to make the full auto more less pleasant to drive.
With the paddles, the box is constantly arguing with me like a stubborn child not wanting to put away their toys.
“Give me 3rd”
“Give be 3rd damn it”
“Haha, already gave you third and now I’ll give you 4th”
The biggest issue is that the box is not smart enough to cancel inputs to shift up that are received in the time it takes for it to decide that it’s going to shift up by itself and actually doing so. This keeps resulting in double shifts.
Box decides to shift up > I input shift up command via paddle > Box executes it’s decision to shift up > Box realises I told it to shift up earlier and shifts up another gear.
I’m yet to find the sweet spot on the tach where I know my input will be safe, as it’s certainly nowhere near red line nor aligned with the noise coming form the engine.
Even though I have the 19″ wheels and the GT has firmer suspension, I have no issues with the ride. It’s quite comfortable for me and gives me a sense of being well connected with the road. Roads around Melbourne are generally not that fantastic but I haven’t yet had that moment of uttering an “oomph” after you feel the alloy deal with the unforgiving surface.
That about covers it. I’m looking forward to seeing what else pops up as I drive this car around some more. But as it stands now, very pleased with the purchase.