IS THE PEUGEOT 508 THE ANTIDOTE TO THE CROSSOVER?

THE POPULARITY OF THE CROSSOVER-SUV IS LOST ON NONE IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY. THE CAR-BUYING POPULOUS’ DEMAND FOR THE BODY SHAPE HAS LED TO A FLOODED MARKET, FULL OF ALMOST COOKIE-CUTTER SHAPED OPTIONS IN THE SIMILARITY.

So, it’s refreshing to see a brand-new saloon-bodied entrant to the market. We say saloon but, in reality, the 508 from Peugeot straddles the line between staid four-door and swoopy coupe. It’s a vein that can be likened to the already popular Audi A5 Sportback, which also offers five doors and a lowered roofline. The 508’s length has been shortened to give it a more compact footprint than the previous iteration. The doors are frameless, and the daytime running lights take the shape of fangs. And, in a call-back to the much-loved 504 from the ’70s, the 508’s digits are proudly displayed upon its snout.

These are all notable departures in the styling and, combined, set the 508 apart from the rest of the crop. Perhaps poignantly, it’s a risk that Peugeot can afford to take: their now bread-and-butter models – the 2008, 3008 and 5008 – have played it safe, and have had the fortune of being hits within the relatively fresh crossover-sphere. But against competition from stalwarts Mercedes, Audi and BMW, Peugeot had to push the envelope with the 508. Design is one area this approach has paid off in: the French challenger looks as striking as an art deco pattern in the centre of a concrete jungle.

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SPECIFICATIONS

  • Engine / 1.6 4cyl turbo
  • Transmission / 6speed auto
  • Power / 180bhp
  • 0-100 / 7.9 secs
  • Top Speed / 250 km/h

Similarly, the interior follows the same trajectory. It provides a different approach to the norm, with Peugeot’s “i-cockpit” wrapping around the driver. There are some ergonomic compromises, and the overall concept may not be for everyone; the Piano-style shortcut keys are divisive, as too are some scratchy plastics and the inclusion of faux carbon. It’s harder to get an unimpeded view of the dash unless either you’re the perfect height or you adjust your seat uncharacteristically high, and rear headroom and visibility are naturally compromised – design triumphing over any consideration for bouffant hairdos.


 

DESIGN FEATURES

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REAR LIGHTS

In addition to the fang-like DRLs the rear lights do a little dance as you unlock the car


 

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FRAMELESS DOORS

Frameless doors are far from revolutionary, but aren’t as common as they should be. Wind noise is kept to a minimum too.


 

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FRONT BADGE

In a throwback to Pugs of old, (such as the 504) the 508 features the model designation upfront.


 

The 508 garners most acclaim when on the road. Initially, the small steering wheel with its quick ratio feels almost too sharp. But, it makes the 508 feel smaller than what it is, and not only is it more eager on the open road but also results in easier traffic-threading ability.

Although front-wheel drive, the limits of traction are high, enabling and encouraging spirited progress, even if the steering-feel itself is on the numb-side. There’s no doubt the 508 is aiming to be as sporty as its design, and this is evidenced through the fairly firm ride which, without adaptive suspension, may remain a sticking point to those looking toward a more cossetting drive. Overall, the 508’s desirability is in its bucking the trend.

Its appeal lies in the design, the drive, and the fact that it’s more than just another option on the MCQ sheet that buyers are presented with today.

For the rest, though, it’s a hard sell. With prices starting at Rs15.6 million, and rising to over Rs17 million for the top-spec GT-Line, the 508 lands itself in the territory of the Mercedes C-Class, although those with a permit can obtain a pug at a slightly more palatable Rs11.5 million. But those who do choose the 508 will be rewarded – there’s more than enough substance behind the style, and the 508’s forward-thinking interior and pleasingly involving drive will enamour it to those who value more than just SUV looks.