We enjoyed the New Peugeot 508 at the launch last autumn. But what does seven days and five hundred miles reveal?
Is this Peugeot a sort of bionic car? I don’t mind admitting it: this car is too clever for me. Or, at least it thinks so.
Peugeot’s 508 GT is a fine-looking car — quite a few people told me that in the week I had it. And that included such people to whom what something looks like is important: one was an artist, and another the owner of a couple of classic Lancias.
Inside, too, the dashboard is strikingly smart and different. It hasn’t totally got away from shiny black and aluminium bling, but the contours and materials combine in a classy way.
The test version, totalling £39,509, had abundant amounts of nicely-stitched leather, as it should at the price. The seats were very comfortable on long journeys.
On the first impression, the steering wheel felt very small and the instrument binnacle unusually high so that you see it over the top of the wheel. Peugeot designed it like this to give the driver a safer view out…because the eye does not have to be lowered away from the road in more traditional designs.
And here is where we come to the car being cleverer than me. Because the car is provided with so much in the way of safety features, I found it impossible to work out where I was apparently going so wrong or driving so badly that it kept sounding off its alarm system at me. On one section of the M25, there were no less than twelve successive ‘bing bings’ in only two miles. Not only was it worrying me, but it was also very distracting in that my eyes were constantly drawn to the instrument display to try to spot any visual clue amongst the graphics. Too clever by half, perhaps. By the way, anyone buying the 508 should make sure that the full owner’s handbook is in the glovebox. It may be that a short, starter version is what is given to you. In this case, you would not know what the tiny, but rather alarming little graphic of a man in white with a large red gushing gash on his neck is all about…that is how I interpreted him, anyway. What was that all about, I ask? It’s at times like these, and especially as I was trying to listen to some interesting programme on the radio, continually interrupted by the ‘bings’, that I wonder if these clever IT designers actually drive any distance at all to discover if all this smart stuff actually works as it’s supposed to for the driver.
Peugeot has made full use of attractive graphics wherever possible and, from that point of view, they do add to the appeal of this car. There is also a choice of ambient lighting that aims to radiate either dynamism or a more relaxed state; since it is there for the instrument and central display, I would have liked to see it extended alongside the interior.
The interior, as such, is spacious enough for four adults and those in the rear get some of their own controls for heat and air.
The boot is very good and can handle a large amount of luggage. Opening the hatch can be done by waving a foot underneath and it closes via a button.
Out on the road, the 508 GT can be both relaxing and fun. Its relatively small engine (1598cc) is turbocharged to develop 225 bhp and that enables some serious performance, like zero to sixty two in just 7.3 seconds. At times, a pleasant, quite deep, exhaust note can be detected. It can certainly punch above its weight. I wonder what it sounds like at its 155 mph maximum.
Generally, the car is nice and quiet. The automatic 8-speed gearbox flits nicely between the gears and there are of course paddles if you want to do it yourself.
I noticed in heavy rain and spray on the motorway that the car’s aerodynamics cleverly kept the rear windscreen free of any water. Meanwhile, the front wipers neatly include the washers.
The car was fitted with rear parking assist. Such systems have been around for quite a few years now, but that doesn’t make them any less welcome. Once you take on board that you need not touch the steering wheel, it is still an extraordinary sensation to reverse into that little space in one go without touching cars or kerbs…cleverer than me.
So, yes, a car cleverer than its driver, in this case, sometimes annoyingly, but on the whole in a welcome way. There remains a sneaking feeling that the 508, even in its standard version is sort of bionic. Halfway to being autonomous.
But I still enjoyed such old-fashioned but important sensations provided by good steering, handling, braking and ride. Oh, and, for the price, grab-handles, please!
Fuel consumption of 44 mpg indicated on the trip computer (only very briefly each time you press the button on the end of the wiper stalk) means a good range of five hundred miles or so, with exhaust emissions low at 131g/km.
All in all, the Peugeot 508 GT is the sort of car that is the way ahead for today’s car buyers.
Car reviewed: Peugeot 508 GT PT 225 EAT8 AUTO S&S on the road price £36,014 with options £39,509 0-62mph 7.3secs Top speed 155mph Engine 1598cc 4 cylinder unleaded Euro 6.2 Fuel Economy Combined 49.6mpg CO2 emissions 131g/km Max Power 225hp@5500rpm Torque 300Nm@1900rpm Transmission 8-speed automatic with manual mode
Watch what the others say on Youtube…
Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.
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