It's the biggest Pug on sale today. And no, we're not talking about the dog here. The Peugeot 508 has been welcomed by Peugeot dealers in rounding out their offering because it's a genuine alternative to other large cars.
The cruicial difference with our test car this week is that it's a diesel wagon. This means it's a load lugger that's economical, proving you don't need to go out and buy an SUV to get the same capability.
The Peugeot 508 works best in Touring guise, as the styling flows better across the back end. The sedan tends to look a little front heavy with its rounded front end, but the larger backside of the wagon balances out the design very nicely. In the Egyptian Blue of our test car and with the contrasting silver wheels, it's a very good looking jigger.
Inside, the curvy design continues with a flowing dashboard finished in soft plastics. It's actually very Volkswagen-like in its presentation, echoing the Passat in many ways. It's very pleasing to the eye, and although there are a couple negatives (the faux carbon fibre trim is very naff, and the cupholders above the stereo could lead to disaster if there's a spill) the ambience is excellent. Gone is the very French audio stalk behind the steering wheel, with controls now on the wheel itself.
The seats are a little flat, but they're comfortable, and although this is classified as a large car, it's still not a patch on the local large offerings for back-seat space.
That said, there's a good amount of room and with the entire roof being made of glass (one of the biggest panoramic sunroofs around) the feeling of spaciousness is tremendous. Boot space is rated at 612 litres, however if the seats are folded flat, the volume grows to a massive 1817 litres (to the roof height).
There are two engine options for the Touring (both in Allure specification). There's a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel four. The diesel was in our possession this week, and as far as oilers go, Peugeot can do no wrong. It's quiet, refined and pulls pretty strongly on the roll.
The six-speed auto is a little hesitant in changing down unless you've selected Sport mode (via a button near the shifter). It shows up a fair bit of lag from the engine, especially when accelerating away from intersections. The paddle shifters are superfluous on a car like this too as they don't respond quick enough.
The 508 is at its best when driven in a relaxed fashion - the 0-100km/h time of 9.5 seconds gives this away, though it does feel quicker when accelerating from 40km/h and upward. On the whole the car is smooth, refined and economical. Peugeot's official figures place its fuel consumption at 5.7 litres/100km on the combined cycle. Under our care, it sipped 6.8L/100km in mostly city conditions, which is pretty good for such a big car. It helps that it only weighs 1544kg, as compared with the Holden Commodore Sportwagon, for example, which specced to match the 508 Touring tips the scales at a portly 1830kg.
Dynamically the 508 Touring is pretty good. It handles decently, has good steering weight and feel for a front-wheel-drive and exhibits a firm but pleasant ride. There's no crashing or thumping from the suspension and it goes about daily life without making too much fuss. It brakes well, as you'd expect, so while it has no sporting pretentions it doesn't leave you feeling cold either.
It would be good if the Bluetooth worked a little better; it constantly 'dropped' my iPhone and when it did connect it transmitted music via BT streaming in a very average manner in terms of sound quality. Peugeot's stereos have never been its strong point, but if you listen to AM radio all day then you won't have a complaint.
Safety-wise the Peugeot 508 has plenty on offer. There are six airbags including two full-length curtain bags, ABS with brake force distribution, traction control and stability control and the usual suspects like pretensioning and force limiting seatbelts. A collapsible steering column and brake pedal also feature.
Standard kit is quite extensive: cruise control/speed limiter, front and rear parking sensors, self-dimming mirror, four-zone climate control, LED lighting, sunblinds for the rear doors, electric front seats, and there's a head-up display and sat-nav as options.
For the price ($45,990) there's plenty on offer, not least of which is the fact it's a diesel and a wagon. That puts it right up against the Skoda Superb Wagon in the marketplace. Step down a notch in size and the competitors grow, with the Ford Mondeo wagon and Volkswagen Passat wagon making their presence felt. What Peugeot has done to sweeten the deal is offer capped servicing for the first three years ($330 a service), and given the distance between services (20,000km), you can rest assured knowing all your services will cost under $1000.
If it's ultimate space you're after, then go the Skoda Superb Wagon. But if it's a good quality, decent drive with predictable, low running costs and plenty of kit, the Peugeot 508 Touring should definitely be on your shortlist.
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