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As the six-month mark behind the wheel of 'our' 2015 Peugeot 508 Active approaches, it has proven itself a capable and comfortable urban commuter, impressing with its smooth engine and gearbox, refined cabin ambience and supple ride.
Before we say goodbye to the Pug, it was time to set the sat-nav for the country to see how the 508 handles the big kilometres.
With much of my immediate family living out in the country town of Gunnedah, just shy of 900 kilometres round trip from Sydney, it was the perfect journey to wrap up our long-term review.
Firstly, a quick recap on the model we’ve got: the entry-level 1.6-litre turbo petrol Active, which, at $37,990 plus on roads (and $990 for the Flint Grey Metallic paint), is well equipped.
Satellite navigation, alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, front/rear parking sensors and a reversing camera really does make you wish for little in the kit department.
It’s not a bad looking car either, very corporate and smart in dark grey. It was helped quite a lot by a facelift earlier this year, though it is on the plain side compared to all its rivals (yes, including the Toyota Camry!).
The basic halogen headlights are a bit out of step with the sharp looking LED taillights and daytime running lights, but, since the journey will put us at our destination after dark, we’ll see how good they are at lighting up kangaroos on the side of the road.
But, it’s the interior where my partner Megan and I will be spending the best part of 1000 kilometres over the span of four days. With the 497-litre boot loaded up with bags and bottles of water, iPhone chargers plugged into the two 12V outlets and coffees in the cupholders, we were ready to hit the road.
Pairing a smartphone and programming the navigation is certainly not the simplest experience, with on-screen graphics that just aren’t very intuitive. That said, it’s a significant improvement over the previous model, now featuring a touchscreen rather than a knob-and-dial arrangement.
You get used to it, but it could be simpler out of the gate.
Getting out of Sydney is never a simple or pleasant experience, with endless traffic lights, bus lanes and contraflow lanes, but in this environment it was easy to see why my colleagues had enjoyed the 508.
It really is very comfortable on rutted and pot-holed roads, with an engine and gearbox combo that’s eager without being over excited. You can get away quickly from the lights without fuss, and make the most of gaps in the traffic.
Megan noted the stop-start wasn’t quite as smooth as in her 2014 Mazda3, and it is a bit of a weak spot in this scenario.
It needs a bit of extra attention and preparation ahead of take-off or when stopping for only a moment, lest you sit stationary while the rest of Sydney moves on. Hardly a deal breaker, but enough to make you consider turning it off. The button is hidden inside a flip-down panel next to the driver's door.
Finally free of the gridlock and heading north on the M1 Pacific Highway, the 508 settles into sixth gear, cruising at 110km/h at just over 2000rpm. Click on the cruise control, and the kilometres just disappear out the back.
Some may be put off by such a small engine powering a large car, but headed into 2016 there is no cause for concern.
This little 1.6-litre turbo engine with 121kW/240Nm really is an excellent match to the gearbox, and indeed the car, with a level of refinement and quietness that a lot of diesels would struggle to match.
The stretch from Hornsby to just shy of Newcastle is very hilly, and at no point did the 508 feel short of power or torque with two people and a boot of luggage on-board. The relatively light 1410kg kerb weight (over 100kg less than the diesels) certainly helps.
To really nestle into the torque band you can flick the paddle shifters, but most of the time it was unnecessary.
The journey is full of sweeping bends and rough concrete patches too, but none of it would upset the 508’s comfortable ride.
For a long time Peugeot has done a wonderful job matching smooth ride with competent handling, and the 508 Active continues the tradition.
The seats are very comfortable for long distance driving too. The leatherette and cloth trim has a quality look and feel, with soft padding on the base and back, and cosseting rather than cramped side bolsters.
The dual-zone climate control kept a very pleasant temperature in the cabin too, regardless of the outside environment.
As the base model, the 508 Active misses out on the JBL premium sound system, but its standard eight-speaker setup was more than up to the task.
Clarity and bass were excellent for an unbranded system, though it did encounter some hiccups playing music over USB from my iPhone 6 Plus running the latest iOS. Switching to Bluetooth sorted things, but you do lose out of being able to legally select tracks on the touchscreen.
To do anything on the touchscreen (or see the navigation map), you'll have to move the drinks out of the in-dash cupholders, as they block the display very effectively. You'll need to watch out for overflowing lattes too, as they'll drip right onto the climate controls. Not the best location for them.
The maps in our 508 weren't exactly up to date, either, with the navigation system expressing dismay at an off-road adventure when we were clearly on the Hunter Expressway, which opened in early 2014.
We made it almost 300 kilometres into the 430km trip before the thought to stop crossed our minds. A quick stretch and a couple of thickshakes at Scone McDonald’s and we were good to go.
As dusk turns to dark, our eyes keep a very watchful eye one the trees and brush either side of the road for roos. Almost everyone out here has encountered roos at one point or another, and I don’t think Peugeot would appreciate the end of this report wrapping up with the local towie and his Hino flatbed.
Those standard halogen lights may not look as classy as bi-xenon projectors, but they certainly throw a good light. With the highbeams on, vision is clear for quite some distance both forward and off to the sides of the road.
Fortunately traffic is light at this time on a Friday evening, so we can leave them on almost the whole time.
We roll into Gunnedah just after 7pm, meeting up with the family at a local restaurant.
Megan and I aren't the slightest bit fatigued, a testament to the comfort and refinement the Peugeot 508 Active affords.
The next few days we spend around town, with a short drive up to the local lookout spot. I get my first opportunity to ride in the back seats, which offer good room for legs and head, with a similarly comfortable base to the front seats, evidence that the classic sedan is still a good way to travel.
At this point the fuel gauge is reading just below half, which should get us home.
Heading off Sunday at midday, the trip back is as comfortable and enjoyable as the journey out.
Rolling into a petrol station in North Sydney Monday morning, I’ve just clicked over 1000kms, the 72-litre tank taking 64.79 litres for an average combined fuel consumption figure of 6.5L/100km.
Unsurprisingly, this number is slightly higher than the claimed 5.8L/100km combined, but considering the size, comfort and the fact it was driven normally rather than for ultimate economy, it’s hardly a guzzler.
After a wash to clean away 1000km of bug splatter, we say goodbye to the big Peugeot.
While no one was jumping up and down to get hold of the keys to the 508 Active, it proved itself to be a capable, comfortable and economical daily driver, whether you spend your time in the urban jungle, or covering big distances on the open road.
Peugeot 508 Active
Date acquired – July 2015
Odometer reading – 8,992 km
Travel since previous update – 2,707 km
Consumption since previous update – 6.5 L/100km
Click the Photos tab for more images by Mitchell Oke.