Friday, 23 December 2011


If Peugeot wants to play with the big boys, they need to continue making cars like the brand new 508 sedan. Not only will they push the unsuspecting public towards a more accepting attitude towards these fine cars, but they will also challenge the status quo. And you know what that is right?

Yap, that’s Audi’s A4, BMW’s3 Series and Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class. Lately Volvo has been trying to enter the fray with its S60 and V60 models. I say Peugeot must declare its intentions outright and prepare for a fist fight of Germanic proportions. For this time they have the product to properly challenge.

The 508 is a direct replacement for the 407, which I genuinely liked, despite its obvious flaws (like an unbearable glare through the windscreen on models with the beige dashboard) and that oceanic ride. While the 508 is not so stiff as to mistake it with a piece of biltong, it does shift a little to the right more.

We drove two models at the launch in the Knysna area where roads went straight, then bent, then straight, then curved for two days whole. Just the kinda place to test these sort of things. The front suspension, a MacPherson strut type system, is ideal for such situations as it strikes a balance between hard and soft rides. Peugeot also reduced the weight of the front axle by 12kg compared to the 407’s, and anything that weighs less performs better on the road. For the GT model, a drop-link dual-wishbone suspension was chosen. Still, no jaw-jarring feelings here, just simple adaptation to the prevailing road. At the rear they fitted a multi-link solution. Quite an enjoyable drive this car is. In terms of pitch, it probably mimics the C-Class more than the others.

We will be familiar with two of the engines as they are already doing the rounds locally in cars like the 307 GTI. Two are turbo diesels and the one is a petrol turbo with four cylinders. Used in the 1.6 THP Active model, the petrol makes out a nice 115kW at 6000rpm, with peak torque of 240Nm becoming available between 1400rpm and 4000rpm. Yes it’s a responsive motor despite its “baseline” tag, and it pulls quite strongly in every situation. You’d think a car this side would sport a bigger engine, but these days, small turbos are the way to go, especially in Gauteng where cars with no turbos suffer substantial power losses due to the thin high altitude air. An Allure trim makes use of a 6-speed automatic instead of the manual found in the Active.

HDi stands for High-Pressure Direct Injection, and in the case of the new 508 it also stands for efficiency, especially in the 2.0 HDi FAP. Utilising common-rail direct injection technology, the car pushes out 120kW at 3750rpm and maximum torque is 340Nm between 2000rpm and 3000rpm. With only a 6-speed manual available to it, the 2.0 HDi becomes like a little performance starter-pack with no desire for fuel. Peugeot claims a 4.9 litre per 100km average, or a tank range of 1470km! One could almost get to Cape Town from Jozi on that one tank.

The new 2.2-litre HDi is the supposed new star for Peugeot engines, and it replaces the 2.7-litre V6 turbo diesel. Only the 508 GT has it and the figures are very encouraging, even on the road. We drove the automatic-only GT and came away in awe of its thrust talents, coupled with impressive consumption. Maximum power is 150kW at 3500rpm with torque of 450Nm between 2000rpm and 2750rpm. Not a very wide band it must be said, but when accelerating or overtaking one hardly notices. A range of 1250km is quite possible from official figures Peugeot has put down on paper.

Well-appointed and equipped are the 508s, from top to bottom. A range of impressive features such as CD players, Bluetooth connectivity, two-zone climate control, cruise control and automatic headlights are all standard from the baseline THP Active. Other higher models then add sweeteners like Head Up display, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights, leather seats and electronic parking brakes instead of the normal handbrake system we use.

We think the 508 looks very much its premium part and deserves to be on anyone who’s looking into the German trio’s shopping list for 2012. 

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