Written By: Steven Winter – International Director
The lion. It is the king of the jungle, and a car wearing its plaque should be, at the very least, dramatic, assertive and sharp. For more than two decades now, cars wearing the lion plaque—those from Peugeot—were everything else except kings of the jungle.
Could it be different now?
Introduced at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show under the impressive lion sculpture, it seems the Peugeot 508 will try to be just that: a lion. The last version of the car was not bad by any terms, but it was definitely a family car. The new one will try to reassert itself a bit higher, offering the driver more than practicality and comfort. Evolving unlike any other car of today, the new Peugeot 508 did not grow in length. In fact, it became shorter. 4.83 meters became 4.75 meters. 1,456 millimeters in height became 1,403 millimeters. 1,853 millimeters in width became 1,859 millimeters. If one would argue that perfect woman proportions are 90-60-90, then one could also argue that perfect car proportions of today could be just what Peugeot did with their saloon. This is how they have to try to upmarket their C-segment saloon. Although dimensions speak a story of their own, the design of the new 508 did obtain curvatures, sharpness and masculinity of something we could call “premium”. High praise for the 508. Peugeot officials do admit that they have to move the car upmarket in order to fight off the SUV onslaught. This is a way to do it.
Apart from looking, frankly, badass, the 508 inherited a number of design traits from the Peugeot Instinct Shooting Brake Concept. The frontend received a slender chrome-plated, checkerboard grille. Surrounded by full-LED (Light Emitting Diodes)lights and framed with rather large vertical signature LED daylights, the frontend as a whole feels refined and sophisticated.
Looking at it from the sides, one can clearly see the coupe-like silhouette, which is a characteristic of all high-end sedans nowadays. More important, I think, is the wide and powerful bonnet (and frameless doors—oh, yes). However, the bonnet still does not feel as proportionally right as with the BMW 3 Series, but it is definitely a better match compared with the previous gen 508.
Finally, the rear-end is fundamentally changed. Horizontally positioned full-LED rear lights are connected with glossy strip and are certainly helping its unique appearance. This arrangement somehow reminds me of the famed Peugeot saloons, such as the 405. More importantly, it feels tactful, even tenacious. Just what the 508 needed. Firmness and incisiveness. Dig a bit more into the past, and the 504 comes into play. See 508 numbers on the bonnet? It is a throwback to the 504. Awesome.
Looking the part is only half of the task in front of the 508.
This bad bay has to act on it, it needs the best PSA (Peugeot Société Anonyme) has to offer. And that is the EMP2 platform (Efficient Modular Platform). Althoughnot supporting six-cylinder engines, the EMP2 enables access to all of the fancy, modern equipment. Hybrid tech included (not before late 2019, though). The interior of the 508 gained the newest interpretation of the iCockpit structure. The head-up instrument cluster behind the compact steering wheel is fully customizable with five different modes. Although some have questioned Peugeot’s decision to integrate such an unusual instrument cluster ever since the 2008 in 2012, everyone who has ever driven one found the solution quite appealing and less distracting than with usual positioning. Nevertheless, the 12.3-inch digital screen behind the wheel is not the only screen. Central stack hides a fantastically integrated 10-inch-wide HD (high-definition) capacitive touch-screen in 8:3 format. This is the central place for all of the infotainment tasks (of which there are many).
The special mode selector is a part of i-Cockpit Amplify. Choose between two ambiance options: Boost and Relax. You can guess which one would fit spirited driving. Notably, the i-Cockpit Amplify grants access to the mode selector featuring four modes: ECO/Sport/Comfort/Normal. For the models featuring electronically controlled suspension, the driver can control the damping as well. Obvious hints of premium are at play here. The
EMP2 platform granted some impressive technological advancements for which every car enthusiast will be thankful. The 508 is about 70 kilograms lighter compared to the previous version. Having multi-link rear-axle and variable-damping controlled suspension, the car is certainly ready to pounce through the bends—especially in its GT version with Active Suspension Control. As a final proof of French determination to create an engaging car, Peugeot installed an eight-speed EAT8 automatic gearbox with an electric gear-lever and one-touch control. It’s fast, reliable and refined. Just what the saloon needs.
This transmission will function alongside the new generation of petrol PureTech and diesel BlueHDi engines. The smallest of the bunch is a 1.5-liter HDi (high-pressure direct injection) with 130 horsepower (the only engine available with the six-speed manual transmission). Two-liter HDi comes in two versions, with 160 and 180 horsepower.
However, the 1.6-liter PureTech petrol engine developing 225 horsepower is the one to look out for. It is much the same engine as in the 208 GTi. Although much bigger than the 208, the 508 GT is fast. Finally, the last option is the 1.6-liter PureTech with 180 horsepower.
Without a doubt, Peugeot wants to make a point with this car. A point worthy of taking the 508 nameplate upmarket. Even slightly flirting with what some may consider “premium”. It is cool-looking, it can be fast (can’t wait for the hybrid that will be the flagship), and it features a rather inspiring interior.
As a final step of making it into the premium segment, the French drizzled it with all kinds of active and passive safety equipment:
- Night Vision system, a first for the segment,
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go function (with automatic EAT8 gearbox),
- Lane Positioning Assist (related to Stop & Go adaptive cruise control), first application on the Peugeot range,
- Latest-generation Active Safety Brake (that detects pedestrians and cyclists both day and night at up to 140 kilometers per hour) and Distance Alert,
- Lane Keeping Assist (including roadsides),
- Driver Attention Alert,
- High Beam Assist,
- Speed Limit recognition and recommendation,
- Extended Traffic Sign recognition (stop, prohibited direction etc.),
- Active Blind Spot Monitoring system.