Peugeot& s new 508 SW the lion roars again Review Drivesouth …

15 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Peugeot& s new 508 SW the lion roars again Review Drivesouth … отключены
Peugeot 508 Electric Cars

Peugeot s new 508 SW — the lion roars again

The 508 sports more cohesive lines than the awkward 407. Photos supplied

Peugeot is rediscovering its form with a long-legged family wagon that has ample room and plenty of driver appeal. David Thomson reports in after a week behind the wheel of the new 508 SW.

Who remembers the days when Peugeot’s relevant model was an inevitable choice on the shortlist of anyone considering a mid-range European car? I certainly do, with a special fondness for a near-new Peugeot 405 wagon that was my car for most of 1989.

Its glaring faults — a tendency to creak and groan when driven over anything but the smoothest of surfaces, and a heater fan that would occasionally turn itself on to full power for no apparent reason — were easily forgiven because it had an immense cargo capacity and was a super car to drive over any winding road.

My, how things have changed: Peugeot build quality has improved in leaps and bounds, but all too often at the expense of the tactile feel and agility that was once a company hallmark.

The end result? The French lion’s cars have become better appointed and finished than ever before, but with driver appeal diminished to such an extent that a marque that was once the top-selling European brand in our new-car market has slipped to No 5.

There have been encouraging signs of late that Peugeot is rediscovering its soul, both through niche models like the RCZ coupe, and more bread-and-butter machines like the current 308 hatch.

One size up, the 407 has recently been replaced by the 508 which, as tested here in wagon guise, is a direct successor to my own 405 carry-all of so many years ago.

Opt for the wagon (SW in current Peugeot parlance), and you’ll straight away find that a combination of 120kW/340Nm diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission is the default drive train choice, and that you will pay a $3000 price premium over the equivalent sedan.

That gives the SW a $57,990 price tag that is suitably competitive in a market segment where more costly alternatives from Volkswagen, Skoda and Volvo are the 508’s most obvious rivals.

Pushing beyond the $50K barrier brings some luxury expectations.

The 508 SW obliges with leather trim, front power seats, quad-zone climate control, a massive panorama sunroof, rear side-window blinds, a premium eight-speaker sound system, a power-operated tailgate, keyless entry and starting, and full iPod, USB and Bluetooth connectivity.

Rain-sensing wipers, auto bi-xenon self-dipping directional headlights, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, an automatic handbrake and 18-inch alloys also feature on the standard bill of fare, while six airbags and full electronic stability programming help the 508 SW to the

maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating.

Those who found the outgoing 407 a tad awkward in its styling will be encouraged by the more cohesive lines of the 508.

Especially in wagon guise it looks both better and more firmly planted on the road (as it should, given that it is longer and wider than the model it replaces).

Smart 18-inch alloys and a metallic finish to the roof rails and wing mirrors add stylish touches.

Though out-spaced by Skoda’s superb Superb, the 508 SW’s interior is both roomy and well-finished.

Boot capacity measures up at 560 litres (extendable to almost 1600 litres with the rear seats down), and the power-operated tailgate is a welcome standard feature.

The passenger compartment is spacious too, with those in the back particularly well-treated for leg and head room.

Up front, the 508 scores well for the layout, feel and clarity of its key controls and instruments.

So long as you don’t want to sit really low, the driving position is pretty good too, though the car’s length and relatively small tailgate window compromise rear visibility.

The 508 SW’s dynamic character is largely defined by its 120kW/340Nm 2-litre turbo-diesel motor, and the manner in which it interacts with the standard six-speed automatic transmission to deliver power to the front wheels.

Peugeot 508 Electric Cars

Round-town performance is smooth and effortless, with strong pull from low revs, unobtrusive gearshifts and a cosseting ride.

As one would expect of any mid-sized European diesel, the 508 SW has also been well configured for long-haul open-road motoring: the test car took the highway shift in its stride, providing excellent aural refinement, strong in-gear acceleration for confident overtaking, and a comfortable,

absorbent ride.

Economy is excellent, though Drivesouth could not match the car’s outstanding 5l/100km combined-cycle economy figure on test.

This was partly due to a determination to seek out a few demanding twists and turns and see how close the 508 SW could come to recapturing the handling sparkle of the 405 wagon of old.

Truth be known, this attempt at a memorable back-road blast was the one aspect of the test on which the 508 SW did not seem quite at home.

This, in part, is due to the car’s size, allied to a chassis that has been tuned to give progressive understeer precedence over on-the-limit sharpness.

The car’s electrically-assisted power steering also lacks a little for feel.

Its brakes, on the other hand, are strong and, and even when it starts scrubbing into gentle understeer, the 508 SW never suggests it is struggling for grip.

A true driver’s car might also be expected to make a better fist of its gearshifts during press-on driving, although the 508 SW offers its standard manual paddle shifts as a reasonably convincing excuse for an effective alternative approach.

All this leads to the conclusion that while the 508 SW lacks the handling sharpness of the 405 of old, it is in all other respects a superior machine when judged by the standards of its class and time.

That is great news for Peugeot as it moves ahead to recapture past glories with a fresh and much improved model range.

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