Wednesday, 2 November 2011 8:27 AM
Picking the right car is like choosing a suit: it has to convey the correct image. That’s what executives were forever telling me during my time as Business Editor at the Bournemouth Echo. For instance, one chap preferred to drive a Nissan over a Mercedes because it didn’t look so flash and wouldn’t make his customers think they were paying him too much. The same went for his suits – he always opted for a good cut but not a well-known label.
This is where Peugeot comes into its own. In this day and age where we are all counting the pennies even more than ever, executive motoring has received a shot in the arm in the form of the 508, which was launched at the start of the year as a much needed replacement to the 407.
The 508 GT HDI 200 tested is priced at under £31,000 and yet shares similar looks to the £80,000 plus Maserati Quattroporte. The adorable Pug oozes quality and equipment levels that are sure to annoy the most ardent Audi, BMW or Mercedes fans.
Simply unlock using the remote key fob, which also opens the boot. I’m not usually too bothered about boots because they give me dirty hands when opening them, which I am forever trying to avoid but the 508’s pleasingly flies open not requiring any help from me and leaving me clean! It’s the only car I have come across to do this. The striking, nicely curved rear has separate chrome exhausts on the left and right, which add a further touch of sportiness.
The doors shut with a very satisfying clunk while the flash chrome door handles glisten in the sunshine. Inside, the well-designed black interior is perhaps more practical than luxurious but nevertheless does the job very well. This state-of-the-art vehicle is fitted with all the technology demanded by today’s motorists including all the usual Bluetooth and satellite navigation. There’s a high quality JBL stereo, too. A nice touch, appreciated by my six-month old daughter during a sunny day, are the pull-up sun blinds fitted in the rear doors and the rear window.
To start, the driver needs to press the foot brake down and push the start button to the right of the steering wheel. A head up display lifts out of the top of the dash displaying the mph reading. Bearing in mind this is a diesel (and it does make this fact known outside), excellent sound proofing means that from inside driver and passengers are completely oblivious. This is a notable achievement when compared to other cars in its class like the Skoda Octavia diesel, which is really does suffer from imposing engine noise.
The Peugeot’s six-speed automatic gearbox takes a little getting used to as does the steering wheel, which has too many controls on it for my liking, easily confusing me. But over the duration of the test I have become used to it.
On long journeys it’s economical, too. Point it down the motorway at 70mph and it’s not long before it’s returning 70mpg. Over the course of the test it has covered more than 700 miles and there is still fuel left.
During the test my brother decided to visit from France and we agreed to meet up. Unfortunately, an accident on the motorway delayed me by over an hour. But the Peugeot took it all in its stride and when able the 2.2-litre 200bhp diesel engine burst into life and made light work of my demanding driving style, overtaking swiftly and safely. The paddle shifts either side of the steering and the sports mode give the driver a more exciting option if they become bored of the lazy auto box.
The new 508 is certainly enjoyable to drive and handles well “thanks to a chassis that delivers good cornering ability and excellent front-end grip”, according to Parkers, the car experts. “The steering is also nicely weighted, precise with impressive levels of feedback.”
Overall, a superb vehicle. Go and test drive one and see for yourself.
Peugeot 508 GT HDI 200
New price range: £18,450 - £29,050 (GT)
Top speed: 145mph
Economy: 49.6mpg (combined)
By Tim Saunders
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