Peugeot’s history in Sri Lanka, is an extremely interesting tale. The local agent Carmart has been representing the brand since 1953, is the oldest distributor in Asia, and one of the oldest distributors for the brand in the world. Many of the older generation recall legendary cars from the French Lion, and their technology and comfort; such as the 203, which is a highly desirable classic now fetching high numbers among collectors, or the 504 - a car synonymous with the Non-Aligned summit, which also did time as a patrol car for the Police, as well as an official car for top ranking government officials. The 305 too is a much revered model, a pristine one was featured in Motor some time back looking minty fresh in a lovely green.
The models quoted are all pre-90s cars you might notice. It’s not that the cars from the 90s were unremarkable, but rather they faced stiff competition from a host of rival marques. The 206, 306, 406, 407 even the striking RCZ were all champions in Europe, winning many EU Car of the Year accolades for styling (usually by Pininfarina), sharp handling and characteristic French flair. After a few years of having a few, rather questionable looking cars and MPVs, it appears Peugeot have rediscovered their mojo, and have developed a new formula to make their cars stand apart from the crowd.
In addition to the rather sharp range of SUVs, the new 508 has been launched in the Sri Lankan market, exclusively as a 5-door lift back coupe. Building on the progress of the previous generation 508, which seemed quite popular in our market, the all-new 508 is poised to make a mark for the Peugeot. We at Motor wanted to find out if the new model would reflect Peugeot’s classic slogan, ‘The Lion goes from strength to strength’ and take the brand to its former glory and reverence enjoyed in the Sri Lankan market.
To say the new 508 is ‘striking’, would be a gross understatement. The 508 is probably one of the sharpest new cars in town, especially if finished in ‘Ultimate Red’ like our test car. Based on Peugeot’s Instinct shooting brake concept, a lot of the design elements have made their way to the 508. The first things you notice when you approach the car, are the imposing sabre-tooth style LEDs, which make the 508 look really aggressive and, surely, make the car instantly recognizable as a Peugeot.
The 508 badge on the hood also is a return to a classic convention followed by Peugeot but absent till now, and surely will appeal on nostalgic grounds to many. The grille, adorned with chrome studs adds a very premium feel and is flanked by sharp headlamps. If you don’t cut your fingers on the sharp front of the 508, your breath might be taken away by the rear. What proportions, what a design. The blacked out tail-lamp cluster, with sharp LED lighting, is a work of art lifted straight off the Instinct concept, with graphics artfully lighting up as you unlock the car.
The 508’s side profile is very different from the previous generation, in that it now is a lift-back. The car’s sleek profile adds to its overall sportiness. The windows are frame-less, which is an attribute that is usually found a few segments above, and is a great touch to the overall look of the 508. This body-style was once only available in a super-saloon class, but it’s great to see manufacturers bringing such an appealing design to more real-world, achievable segments as well.
Overall the 508 is a good looking car, and has all the right lines and curves in all the right places, with great proportions. Truly the 508 is a game changer for Peugeot design-wise and is cutting-edge, while carrying make cues from Peugeot’s heritage.
Mech & Tech
Our tester was a fully loaded GT Line, with a 1.6 litre ‘PureTech’ 4 cylinder Petrol engine, turbocharged, and delivering 178hp at 5,500rpm, and 250Nm of torque, delivered at 1,650rpm. This is rather early for torque to kick in, as is the trend with a lot of modern cars for greater ‘pulling power’. Good. This motor is mated to an Aisin 8 speed tiptronic gearbox, driving the front wheels and will be good for a 7.9 second century dash, and 220km/h as rated. There is also a higher output variant of this engine in some markets that puts out 220bhp and 300Nm, and a plug-in hybrid variant with an electric motor at the rear, effectively making it all-wheel-drive.
The chassis, or platform was developed at a cost of 60 Million euros and is on average 70kgs lighter than the frame it replaces. This modular platform makes manufacturing cheaper in the long run for manufactures, and the PSA group uses this across, Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, Vauxhall and DS brands. The front suspension setup is a Macpherson strut arrangement, and the rear has a multi-link design. On paper the 508 reads like a car that handles really well, with decent acceleration, but there is no substitute for practically putting these statistics and facts to the test, like a good run around Colombo.
The cockpit of the 508 is a great place to be in. The dash and centre console sits higher giving you the impression that you, the driver, is seated lower, like the position in a sports car. The switch-gear on the dash, piano keys included, are angled towards the driver as well adding to the cockpit like feel. The beautiful ‘floating’ two spoke steering wheel is good to touch, and sporty with good layout of controls. It did get slightly in the way of the gauges which are placed higher up, often requiring a slight peek over the top of the wheel to check. The gear-lever was reminiscent of the now endangered handbrake (the 508 has an e-brake button like most modern cars), and was quite fun to learn and use. A few minutes of moving the car back and forth, trying to get the perfect angle for our photo-shoot helped master the use of the controls.
On the road, the 508 soaks up bumps relatively well, although we felt it was tuned more towards stiff rather than soft. These adjustable dampers get stiffer when sport mode is activated, although it isn’t an extreme Mr. Hyde transformation. The handling of the 508, was very crisp, and a lot sharper we felt that its closest rival in terms of body shape and pricing. The steering too was very responsive and direct, making changes in direction an absolute breeze, with the agility of a much smaller, GTI perhaps. A genre that Peugeot has a lot of experience in.
How did all the numbers translate onto tarmac? Well, very nicely. In a market where a lot of European cars in this price bracket come with small engines having just enough power to manage due to our vehicle cubic capacity taxes, the 508 has a great advantage, being a 1,600cc 4 cylinder unit with ample power. There is a good punch of low end torque, coming in at 1,650rpm, and this ensures the 508 gets moving quite efficiently.
Living with the 508
The seats of the 508, especially in this GT Line are a delight to look at with its ‘Aikinite double stitch detail’, as they seem to have been lifted off a much more expensive car,, and are even better to sit in. The driver’s seat is very supportive when driving the car briskly around corners, without a trade-off in comfort either. The rear bench too is finished the same as the front, and give the cabin a real premium feel.
The dashboard is very unique to Peugeot, in keeping with what we have already seen in the SUVs, is very space age. A mix of soft touch and carbon-esque inserts, chrome buttons, piano black centre console, stitching, and those metallic piano keys, make the interior a very interesting place to be. The cabin looks very distinctly Peugeot, and that is a good thing these days, when a lot of car manufacturers end up emulating each other. On the flip-side though, at first glance it is a lot to take in, with the meld of curves, lines, and material, it might seem a little ‘busy’ as well. While most of the materials have a good feel to them when used, buttons especially, some of the plastics seem to be a little rough to touch and this innate raw feel might be a deal-breaker for some.
The 10 inch infotainment screen is a lovely bit of kit, with good clarity and touch sensitivity. It is refreshing to see such a wide display, and the piano keys provide quick access to a variety of functions as well. This isn’t the only display, as the speedometer is a 12.3 inch digital instrument display or Peugeot I-Cockpit which can be customized to show information in drive mode or GT mode. The RPM meter, as we have seen in the current range of Peugeots and a few classic European cars runs anti-clockwise; a little confusing at first, but a neat touch once you get used to it. The cabin overall is an extremely stylish and interesting place to be. While the design of it matches the exterior, it was hard not to notice a slight shortage of ‘finish’ in some of the plastics used. Nevertheless this is a great looking car overall, so a compromise like that is one that is easy to overlook.
The rear seats, have excellent legroom, although due to the sloping roof-line of the lift-back, taller individuals might have to slump a bit more on longer journeys. There is ‘darkness’ to the 508’s cabin; due to the chunky C-pillar and sleek windows not much sunlight gets in. Additionally, three adults might have to draw straws to avoid the centre seat due to the hump in the middle of the floor. Wonder why it’s there as the 508 is a front-wheel-drive car.
Practical though, as there are large door-bins for bottles on all doors, and seat-back string pockets. There are also useful nooks to keep mobile phones and other items in the centre console up-front as well, where USB charging ports have been placed. The 487 litre boot is massive, and so is the tail-gate, which opened without any fuss. The rear seat arm-rest can be folded down and made to accommodate longer items like rugs. The rear seats fold forward, though not fully flat, and can take larger items quite easily as there is no lip, resulting in a massive 1,537 litre cargo area.
The 508 scored a full 5 stars in the European NCAP tests. The standard ‘Safety Pack’ includes the Active Safety Brake with Distance Alert, Lane Keeping Assist and Speed Limit Recognition and Recommendation. Front airbags for driver and front passenger, side airbags, Central locking with electronic immobilizer, Stability Control, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) also feature to ensure the 508 is a safe car for you and your family.
Fuel Econ & Price
Carmart estimates the 508 will return fuel economy figures of 8-10Km/L in the city and better figures outstation. Pricing starts at LKR15.6Mn for the Allure (11.5Mn on Permit), while in GT Line specification as our test car, is available at LKR16.99Mn (LKR12.29Mn on Permit). The Active variant is also available, although only on bulk order, and being the entry level trim, would be less than the Allure. Official fuel economy estimates are 9.4 km/l in urban and 16/7 km/l in highway/extra urban environments which are great figures for such a large car, especially with the power available on demand.
The Peugeot 508 is a significant car for Peugeot. It marks a distinct return of the marque’s flair and style, along with cutting edge technology and value. The main draw for the 508 is the fantastic design, both inside and out, but it is not just a pretty face. With a list of technology and safety features it is a sensible option. But don’t let that fool you, as the 508 has the heart to back up the design, with a powerful and efficient engine, and excellent driving dynamics with a good balance of sport and comfort, it is guaranteed to be a fun car as well.
178bhp @ 5,500rpm
250Nm @ 1,650rpm
Front MacPherson Strut
Front Vent. Disc
Wheels & Tyres
235/40R19 all round
0-100km/h in 7.8s
Top Speed 220km/h
Kerb Weight 1,400kg
Fuel Tank 62L
Boot Volume 487-1537L