Friday, 15 June 2012

REVIEW - Peugeot 508 Allure

I thought it might be nice to test out a few of the executive cars on sale today. After I reviewed the Hyundai i40 Tourer I was curious as to its competition. One of the newer cars to enter this market is the Peugeot 508. Introduced into the Peugeot range last year, this model aims to show that French luxury is a viable alternative to the German regulars. Read on to see how I got on...

Looks - 8/10

I found that the 508 is a car you have to look at for some time to appreciate its looks. On first glance you may dismiss it, but keep looking and you will start to see the style and boldness that is the styling. On my Allure test model there were 18-inch alloy wheels which sat very nicely in the arches. The front end is imposing, and almost gives off an impression of aggression. One of my favourite lines on this car is the one that runs from the headlight to tail-light; almost the full length of the car.

The back end of the 508 creates a bit of uncertainty in my mind. It is a little bit less aggressive than the front, and that is a shame. The chrome strip on the boot lid seems a bit much, and I was disappointed to see curves in the rear bumper (where you would expect to find a nice tailpipe either side) were empty. This aside, the overall feel of the car is a luxury cruiser, and there is an estate version as well.

On the inside there are no issues at all. Once you appreciate that the car is French, and that means the handbrake being on the dashboard and there being hidden switches everywhere, you will really find a nice place to be in the 508 cabin. On the Allure model I tested half-leather trim is standard, with a piano black centre console. This looks very high class, and also feels extremely well built. I liked the flat bottomed steering wheel with (very) multi-function controls, and the big chunky gearstick. The multimedia screen was in a perfect position and added to the feel of the interior. The seats are huge, and offer heaps of support and comfort on any journey.

Handling/Performance - 9/10

To drive the 508 was surprisingly good. I was expecting an average drive with not much involvement from the driver; a sort of A-to-B-in-comfort car. How wrong I was. The 508 drives superbly. The 2.0-litre HDi engine in my test car produces 163PS and 340Nm of torque. This is plenty of power even for a car this size. 0-62mph takes 9.6 seconds and the top speed is 140mph. The six-speed gearbox makes full use of the power as well and ensures that you always have some 'go' should you need it.

The 508 has quite a long wheelbase, but handles brilliantly. On a country road you could quite easily forget you are driving a large executive saloon. The steering is sharp and nicely weighted. The front end is responsive and never felt overly nose-heavy as you would expect in a car with a large diesel powerplant up front. The suspension is comfortable on all roads, but doesn't 'wallow' when you get on the bumpy stuff. So not only does the 508 get you between the corners well, it also goes round them well. This is a great car for someone looking for a company car that can be an engaging drive at the weekend too!

Economy - 9/10

I was extremely impressed with the 508 in terms of economy. The 2.0-litre HDi 163 engine fits in VED band D; emitting 129g/km CO2. This means that road tax will cost you £100 for 12 months (free first year). Another important factor is that this makes the 508 a great company car, because your taxable benefit will be smaller. As for fuel economy, the combined consumption is 57.6mpg. This return is very impressive for a car of this size, helped by the six-speed gearbox.

Practicality - 9/10

As mentioned the 508 has quite a long wheelbase. This means that the room inside is that of an average ch√Ęteau. Both front and rear pasengers have ample room for legs, heads and anything else they care to bring along on the journey. The boot is vast, as is the case with most saloon cars. My only concern is that there is limited loading space on a saloon car. This is only a small detail, and as mentioned there is an estate version of the 508, so anyone who expects to need a good loading area has an alternative to the saloon.

The 508 is easily parked despite its size, meaning you don't have to spend hours looking for a small field to park it on. Furthermore, from behind the wheel the car doesn't feel as big as it looks. Driving round towns is a doddle, and doesn't leave you biting your nails everytime you attempt to pass a parked car. The media system is useful once you get used to the control dial. The sat-nav is clear and easy to use as well. Because of the electronic handbrake, the 508 has hill-start assist which ensures you won't roll back on a hill. It works really well to the point of you not noticing it is there half the time.

Fun - 8/10

With such a comfortable cabin, an involving drive and a great engine, the 508 makes driving fun. It's full of gadgets and you could spend days finding all the hidden compartments and buttons. You have the option to play music through most sources available to man, and are sat in some incredibly confy armchairs. I also know that there is a GT model in the range, with 200PS, and nothing screams 'fun' more than a Peugeot sporting a GT badge. If you want the most fun car in the range, may I suggest looking into the GT model, but my Allure test model would be great too.

Concluding Remarks

I really enjoyed testing the 508. It surprised me in many ways, and shows that it isn't just the Germans who can make an executive saloon. I also know that I am not alone in thinking this; I see an increasing number of 508's on the road these days, and most are being driven by professional looking individuals. Company cars? Maybe, due to the low taxable benefit brand. Or maybe the 508 is a cheaper alternative to the German marques when it comes to buying an executive car. The model I tested (HDi 163 Allure) is £24,585 OTR, with metallic paint costing £450. This aside the standard list of equipment is plentiful and offers great value in terms of the car you get for your money. Running costs won't cost the earth either. A huge thanks to Craig at Peugeot for sorting this one, I really enjoyed my time with the 508.

Total Score - 43/50

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