It’s pretty hard to believe, but when Holden Commodore production is wound up at the end of this year, the 2017 Peugeot 508 Touring will be one of the few remaining large wagons on the market in Australia. You can’t forget the Skoda Superb either, but the cupboard is pretty bare. Given this type of vehicle was once a staple for Australian families, that reality shows just how much the motoring landscape has changed in this country.
The tastes and preferences of buyers might have changed – arguably in the rush to match your neighbour’s choice of vehicle – but the large station wagon remains a very savvy choice for families given the flexibility, styling and car-like driving dynamics they provide.
There might be rabid demand for SUVs at the moment, but the 508 Touring, for example, would run rings around all but the most sporty (and therefore un-SUV-like), of that you can be certain. The fact it is such a stylish vehicle is simply some extra icing on the cake.
Here, we’ve tested the entry Allure model grade, a comparative bargain, with a starting price of $48,990 before the usual on-road costs. With the Commodore as we know it leaving us soon, you could compare the Pug to the likes of Hyundai’s i40 wagon or Mazda’s 6 Wagon, just with more space. A base Hyundai i40 Wagon starts from $35,690, while the Mazda 6 Wagon starts from $41,440 – both diesels.
The reason I quote the diesel price is because, in the face of increasing engine variants from just about all competitors, Peugeot has decided to offer only diesel engines in the 508 Touring range – a 2.0-litre for the Allure and a 2.2-litre for the GT. Our test Allure is powered by the 120kW HDi engine.
The four-cylinder, turbo-diesel churns out a smooth 120kW at 3750rpm and 340Nm at 2000rpm and is backed by Peugeot’s six-speed automatic. Six ratios might seem too few when compared against eight and nine-speed examples from other manufacturers, and that’s a fair question to toss around too. However, the smooth torque curve extracts the best from the gearbox under all driving situations and we never felt like the 508 was under-geared at anytime behind the wheel.
The ADR fuel claim on the combined cycle is 5.5L/100km, with the specific city cycle using 7.3L/100km according to Peugeot. We used an indicated 11.9L/100km, largely around town and I’d suggest you’d see that drop as the engine runs in. Our test 508 was effectively brand new, so it will get better with age as most diesel engines do.
With all the boring facts and figures out of the way, let’s take a look at the 508 Touring’s interior, which as you’d expect, is pretty well executed. The only real negatives inside the cabin are a lack of decent storage options, and thick pillars, which can cut into visibility.
The vision is more of a nag than a deal breaker though, and some people probably won’t mind it at all. For us, it’s worth mentioning though. The B-pillar especially is a seriously chunky unit. The glovebox, centre console and door pockets are all a lot smaller than what most manufacturers specify and cupholders rather than bottle holders are the order of the day up front. At least you can carry your coffee securely. Just don’t order one in an XL cup.
There are numerous cabin highlights, though. The seats are exceptional – beautifully trimmed and finished and comfortable, rear AC vents are standard, the rear window blinds are excellent on hot days, and the second row seat is particularly easy to fold forward.
With the seat folded up, you can fit an enormous amount into the luggage area. As always with wagons, leave the second row in play and there is still plenty of room. Interestingly though, there isn’t a huge amount of legroom in the second row, which might be more to with packaging than anything else. The second row is certainly comfortable in terms of the seats and the view out, but doesn’t offer as much legroom as we’d like.
Other standard feature highlights include heated front seats, satellite navigation, an electric tailgate, push button keyless ignition and a panoramic sunroof. There’s no digital radio, which is the only omission in regards to infotainment that we’d like to see standard.
The proof of the 508 Touring is in the driving though, as it is with most European vehicles, regardless of whether it’s a sports car or a wagon as it is in this case. Luckily for Peugeot, the 508 delivers the engaging drive that buyers will expect. The engine, while not as powerful as some, is punchy enough to get the 508 up to speed easily and unlike some diesels it actually enjoys working right up to redline.
It’s equally at home around town in the cut and thrust of city traffic, or out on the highway rolling along at 110km/h without so much as the mere hint of strain. In the context of the best modern oilers, the 508 relaxes into a comfortable cruise, the real time fuel usage drops way down into single digits, and the engine almost becomes an afterthought. It’s a beautifully relaxed experience.
If you need to get off the mark quickly in town, or dart into a gap, the engine is more than happy to deliver on that front too, aided by the smooth six-speed automatic. The transmission never hunts either, and six ratios seem – to us at least – to be the perfect match to the diesel engine in this application. Flick the shifter across to ‘Sport’ and you can manipulate what you want it to do and when, to get the best out of the driving experience.
Another factor you’ll notice immediately is the rigidity of the chassis. Every aspect of the driving experience reminds you that the 508 Touring is built on a well-designed and well-executed platform. The steering is precise, the response sharp and the balance exceptional. We loved the way the 508 Touring dealt so effortlessly with poor road surfaces too, it’s very rarely unsettled at legal speeds regardless of how nasty the road beneath it.
The 508 Touring is covered by Peugeot’s three-year/100,000km warranty, as well as a three-year paintwork warranty and a 12-year corrosion warranty. There’s also three years complimentary roadside assistance and a capped price servicing scheme up to 60 months or 75,000km.
Our illustrious CEO, whose vehicle assessment is actually better than he might admit, once threatened the editorial team with torture if he ever again saw the word ‘quirky’ in a review of a French car. Well, I’ve got good news for him here. Aside from the lack of storage, there’s absolutely nothing quirky about this 508 Touring. It’s actually very mainstream in its design and execution, and is all the better for it.
If you’re looking for a large wagon, with plenty of driving enjoyment high on your agenda, you should really take a close look at the 508 Touring. It’s an excellent example of the breed.