We give our grey-suited accountant-like car to our grey-suited accountant to drive.
We initially described our long-term Peugeot 508 Active as being a very "business-like" executive sedan.
Sensible grey colour, sensible size wheels, sensible size and overall demeanour but with one small lemon-wedge of flair – it’s French! Think of it as a four-wheeled accountant; grey suit, black shoes, smart haircut, paper-bag lunch, but with a Hermes pocket square tucked away in their jacket.
So, with that in mind, we handed the keys for our sensible accountant-like Peugeot, to our sensible accountant-like CFO, John Smith.
John’s day to day job, when not making sure the editorial team don’t go mad with expenses (I swear we needed the chopper that time John…), is overseeing the fiscal growth and performance of the CarAdvice empire.
This means regular meetings in and around the Sydney CBD as well as plenty of time in the car in between.
In that role, John needs his car to not only be comfortable and practical, but also representative of his and the company’s position.
“The design of the 508 is very contemporary and smart and I found it somewhat unique on the road, in that I didn’t see anything else quite like it”, said John, “I found that the car became more stylish the more I drove it.”
Some elements of “Frenchness” exhibited by the 508 that we had previously found frustrating were seen by John to make the car much more interesting, “It sounds silly”, he said, “but I loved showing people the hidden boot release button in the middle of the 0 in the 508 badge.
“You just don’t see things like that on most cars.”
Inside, John found the cabin layout to be “functional without being overwhelming” and “extremely comfortable”, something that mirrors my own experience with the 508 when driving it in Europe.
The infotainment hub, which manages phone, audio and navigation was deemed to be “fit for purpose without being a standout.”
During our time with the car, some 2,800 km, the interior has held up well with no parts showing abnormal wear or loosening.
Well, something did show some abnormal wear; John’s patience with the start-stop functionality. This is something we have universally found to be a bugbear in many cars, with very few models hitting that perfect combination of pre-emptive intelligence and smooth operation.
“The engine start-stop would continuously engage and disengage in a very clunky way. I found that the motor would switch off at the slightest touch of the brake, particularly in heavy traffic, and rather than an extended period of smooth silence, it would be a constant on-off vibration as the engine fired and stopped, just to save a bit of fuel.” John outlined.
More than the frustration of functionality was the issue with turning the feature off, “To disengage the start-stop each time I drove the car, you have to open a compartment below the dash and disable the system” he said.
However, John found the Peugeot 508 to be an enjoyable drive. Handling and comfort were the standout, with performance from the 121kW/240nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol adequate for Sydney inner urban traffic.
Not that we don’t value John’s input, nor want him to second-guess miscellaneous expense items, but after he returned the keys, the Pug went to Trent for a few days of inner city slogging.
Trent's account of the Peugeot is as follows.
So, it's as boring and bland as a beige cardigan, but... it's comfortable, quiet and pretty refined.
As far as something like a rep's car goes, it is actually pretty impressive. The new styling is more understated and it looks less offensive and gormless than the old model.
The size is also excellent. Heaps of room inside the cabin and in the boot, but it isn't a physically massive vehicle, which is a bonus around town. I took it into a few carparks in shopping centres and underground and it's a cinch to manoeuvre around. I really appreciated that, given how spacious it is inside.
The engine and gearbox combination shines around town. Six cogs isn't as many as some, but it's more than enough in concert with the engine. It shifts up and down at any speed smoothly and I like the way it gets going off the mark. It's not rapid by any means, but its a great city-focused family sedan in the way it runs around town. It's fair to say the ride comfort and bump absorption is beyond excellent.
I love the way it soaks up the poor urban road network with ease. It never feels too taut and harsh, but on the flip side it never feels wobbly and bouncy either. It's the perfect compromise between the tight Euro suspension settings we see a lot, and the more luxurious limo-type feel we wish more cars had. If you're around town, ploughing over speed humps and potholed roads often, this is a great sedan.
I think what the 508 offers up is an interesting alternative for people who need a large sedan, and as we've said before, the rush to SUVs has overlooked how practical a good large sedan can be. Overlooking this large sedan simply because it is French is a mistake, [as] it's got a lot going for it. It also looks luxurious enough to appear to be more expensive than it is too; a bonus for anyone who is a little more image conscious.
The seats and general interior refinement are also worth mentioning. Anyone spending a lot of time behind the wheel in the course of the working week, will appreciate the 508's cabin. Again, it's not as modern or heavily equipped as some, but it does what it needs to do well and with competence. All round, the 508 feels solid around town. It's got a lot of positive factors going its way in terms of the day to day grind. You wouldn't be unhappy driving a 508 every day if you had to.
Peugeot 508 Active
Date acquired – July 2015
Odometer reading – 6,285 km
Travel since previous update – 2,795
Consumption since previous update – 7.2L/100km
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