Peugeot’s range in the Middle East was getting to be slightly jaded in variety, especially after the withdrawal of 407 and the continuing absence of an SUV – like the globally available 4008. But as the spirited RCZ earlier suggested, change is underway. And this year, the elegant new 508 reiterates it.
The new look 208 has just been launched in Lisbon. The 308 sedan has arrived in the French world. The good news is that many of these models are expected to grace the roads of the UAE. Last year, the RCZ was a re-energizing pit stop for the brand (Ah! That charming double-bubble roof!). But for now, all the good news you get is in the shape of an executive sedan, which is not a night-watchman to change but a worthy sentinel of a new era for Peugeot.
Distinguished at all times, the 508 responds to the driver with the poise and parlance of a gentleman. The quiet ride is livened up when you coax the full throttle. 508 does have a voice when it speaks out. But the car is best enjoyed in all its quietness and calm elegance. While the steering wheel feels a bit flat (quite literally, in fact) it is pretty interactive with excellent road response at curves as well as in straight lines.
Just because it is a gentleman’s car, don’t think it is tame. There is 156 bhp of power, spun up by 238 Nm of torque ready at hand. Unlike most luxury sedans that disappointingly claims a sporty side, the 508 makes no such presumptions. Even overcoming the inertia is in a sort of level-headed way and not in a rapid scrambling. But there is nothing about the drive that belies its 1.6 L engine other than the tremulous bit of extra effort when it lugs along from a crawl over a bump.
The 508 knows a good old elegant drive from a sporty one, but it won’t let you down when pushed at a juncture. The 0-100 comes up in just under 10 while the fuel efficiency too clocks the same figure – making it a sensible choice even as the design is almost sensational among comparable sedans.
The 508 brings back the good old days of elegance and also the quarter glass – though it is sealed unlike the classic cars in which it was an excellent air vent that served the cabin silently. Along with the A pillar which is pushed ahead a bit and the B and C in perfect place, the car affords an excellent view ahead, and around.
The use of chrome plates framing the glass and the strip on the rear as well as the door handles give it an executive premium look. High gloss plastic is a well-picked accessory to elegance in the 508; it adorns the door handles inside and even the exterior pillar strips.
The cat-claw design rear lamps and the aggressive Bi-xenon headlamps are classy and exude signature style. In fact, the 508 has a good measure of aggressive features thrown in, like the sharp bone line that stretches from the muscular flanking in front all the way to a mild suggestion of a haunch – for gentlemen who appreciate a powerful presence.
Cabin and Controls
The rear seats are wide and make space generously for three. Though the low-roof design makes the car look sleeker and longer, the headroom is good enough for a six-foot plus gentleman, but for a feeling sometimes – it’s just a feeling, I dare say – that the roof is about to cave in!
The navigation is like a Christian Bernard to a blind guy – with clear and comprehensive mapping – and 7.2” is just the right size for the screen. Though the directions were a tad unclear occasionally (even some Christian Bernards can get carried away by a juicy bone!) it took me home safe, with my mind in one-piece.
The instrument cluster is quite elegant but you might have to get used to the left-hand side start button, and some of the controls like the auto lights and parking assistance that are placed on the tunnel console rather than the dash. (A French quirk, this one!) The four-zone air-conditioning in the 508 is pretty effective though the soft-deck tends to radiate its affinity to warmth on hotter days. The music system highlighted nuances of old jazz making for pleasant company along a good morning drive.
The 508 isn’t stunningly jazzed up but it has its everyday conveniences – from the push-button start to the Sensor assist for parking-impaired. The only thing you could point a finger at is the missing rear view camera!
The 508 is a car with all the right things in the right balance – like the right dose of power coupled with precise maneuvering. But no executive sedan can claim its spot as a family favourite without ticking the spot for its care for ease and comfort. From the sun screen for rear passengers and automatic opening of boot to something for those among us who have at least once restarted ta car to roll up a missed out window – it can be shut when you press hold the lock button on the remote control of a Peugeot 508.
As I said earlier, with reasonably good headroom, the cave-in feeling is just a feeling. On the other hand, the low design adds to the expansive feeling inside. Boot space in figures sounds good too – 660 litres – but our “mother of all prams” had to be shoved in head first. The opening is a bit narrow!
The essential Peugeot 508
The future belongs to smaller engines while Neubergring still belongs to the larger ones; but the 1.6 engines of Peugeot has found their rightful place in the present with their varying power iterations. Calm, quiet and elegantly designed, the new Peugeot 508 also should find an appopriate place between its less engaging Japanese counterparts and the more expensive European sedans as the essential gentleman’s car.
UPSIDE: Makes a fresh impression among the ‘usual’ midsize sedans, four-zone cooling comfort, composed steering ability, good combination of power and fuel efficiency, Feels more refined than popular cars in the category
FLIPSIDE: Narrow boot opening, rear view camera not available, feels less powerful from standstill compared with some competitors
Drive courtesy: Omeir Bin Youssef Abu Dhabi
Picture courtesy: Sudeep Koshy/Supplied
Editor’s note: *Unless otherwise mentioned, fuel used is 98 Octane Petrol