Peugeot’s 508 sedan gets some midlife update to keep it relevant — lets see whether this one will share the same success story as its predecessor
Photos by Azfar Hashim
This has to be, most definitely, the most boring market segment. It’s the sort to look at when you’re past 40, the kids are at least school going (and learning about bf-gf relationships), and weekends are spent only with family. But at the same time, this is also the most highly competitive segment; you get the Camry, Accord, Sonata, Optima K5, Passat and even Teana all vying for your money.
Although they all come from different manufacturers, if you were to ever park them side by side, all share the similar body shape; gone are the days where large sedans like these look like bricks and are as exciting as a plastic ruler. Now, they all look shapelier with beautiful (woah I actually said that) lines and curves. In fact, calling them sophisticated isn’t wrong as well.
While it’s no rocket science trying to figure out who is the best selling model, the rest of the players here are actually up to mark as well — like the French 508 here. When the Peugeot 508 first arrived, it did so without much fanfare. But its biggest selling point here is this: a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that does not only provide adequate pulling power for our roads, but with such an engine capacity, equates to affordable insurance and road tax. And say you have a 50 percent NCD - that would make it much, much cheaper to insure. Surprisingly it still enjoyed healthy sales despite the arrival of the 1.4-litre Passat…
So now meet the updated 508.
Well I don’t know about you, but I’m on the fence on this new one. I like the previous version, as it looks more French chic and seem to have more style; this one looks a little too Asian for me. If you were to look very hard at it, you would surely notice how closely it resembles the eighth-generation Honda Accord and not that far off the new Hyundai Sonata. Seemed as if the designers were either (a) not given much resources or (b) have ran out of ideas. Rather unfortunate, as I was expecting more from Peugeot — this goes against the norm of French design flair.
But to give credit, at least it went one up by making LED headlamps standard; and those things really light up the night. This is very useful if you ply the North-South highway often.
Besides that, the 508 remain largely unchanged. Oh, the rear also received some minor changes, in the form of an updated pair of tail lamps and rear bumper which now feature chrome addenda at the bottom part of it. Also in pursuit of a little more comfort, 17-inch alloys wrapped in 225/50 R-17 Michelin Primacy HP rubbers come standard with the car; previously, it came offered with 18-inch combination.
Inside, the 508 now displays better build quality. Combined with a roomy cabin that can accommodate three passengers at the rear comfortably, the 508 definitely make a good case for itself. Even the seats are all surprisingly comfortable, although spirited driving exposed how it lacks the grip — but then again who on earth drives a large sedan like a sports car 100 percent of the time, no? Comfort obviously is the priority here and, as mentioned earlier, the 508 has ounces of it.
Like the 308 hatchback we’ve reviewed previously, the 508 also gets a new integrated screen. Parking aids, radio, multimedia, GPS and the car’s real time info can all be accessed here in this one system; smart considering it avoids unnecessary clutter, although you do need to get used to navigating — pun intended - through it.
Driving position is spot-on. Well, it may not offer something driver-oriented but at least you do not have to take long to find your optimum driving position plus controls for the climate control is easily within reach. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is perfectly sized and has a myriad of buttons for the mobile phone Bluetooth system, audio and cruise control. Paddle-shifters are another factory-fitted goodie, giving off a premium vibe in the cockpit. Hmm… Seems only missing here is a direct call button to McDonalds or Pizza Hut.
Powering the 508 is the similar 1.6-litre engine featuring a twin-scroll turbo as seen in the previous model. With enhancements to the engine’s internals and some tuning, power output has increased. It now whips out 162 bhp (+6 bhp) and 240 Nm, and takes only 8.9 seconds (0.3 seconds shaved) to do the 0 — 100 km/h sprint
The 508 gets up to speed very briskly and although you do feel the car trying hard to pull all that 1.4-ton body weight initially, things get lively anywhere past the 2,200 rpm mark. The 6-speed ‘box also does a good job of shifting up as smoothly as it could, although it seem to work faster when you swap your own ratios via the paddle-shifters.
That said, it tend to complaint anywhere near the 5,000 rpm mark. Response during downshifts could be improved when left in ‘D’ too, as there is that noticeable time lag between the moment you floor the accelerator, and the time the gearbox actually decide to downshift by a gear or two. As mentioned earlier, best to shift it yourself. Still.
Handling wise, the 508 still manage to hold its own, delivering good steering response when negotiating corners at speeds; you know where exactly the nose is pointing at, and when the understeer gremlin appears, easing off the throttle and a little steering adjustments are all it takes to save the day. Then at highway cruises, there’s that noticeable softness and comfort, which is half a step down from its predecessor; to see it in a different light, passengers would be able to appreciate this, more so over long distance drives. Braking power is respectable here too, which is a surprise considering its size — in a brake exercise from three figure speeds, the 508 doesn’t nosedive violently and comes to a halt in a straight line with ease, with the ABS actively trying its best to reduce any sort of lock up.
As a whole, the new 508 is a capable large sedan that offers good pace and space, on top of better comfort this time around. It still offers better value for money than the usual Japanese sedans and if this is your first time venturing into the Conti market, you won’t go wrong with this one.