The flagship sedan from the Umbrella Corporation is just amazing.
I wanted to put the name of this car in Roman numerals but then I realized they didn’t have zero. That was invented by the Babilonians (or Egyptians, versions differ), but without email, the empire didn’t notice. That’s the thing with empires. So much bureaucracy the details get lost in user disclaimer forms. I.e. the ventilation shaft in the Death Star. Pitiful.
However, it is momentous that we drive this particular Peugeot in October 2019 because, it so happens, this month is the worldwide release of Joker, with Joaquin Phoenix having another go at the iconic character. And take a look.
The smiling lower grille, the tear from the eye/headlight, the menace in the crow feet. An angry smiley face. Glorious.
The 508 truly put a smile on my face every morning
It is not easy to make anything of interest out of a 4.7m 4-door sedan with a 1.6l engine and 165Hp pulling from the front wheels and a price low enough for the corporate sales guy or the family person but, dear me, Peugeot has managed to pack style in each of those centimeters. The 508 truly put a smile on my face every morning. Sure, it is a matter of taste, but also we must recognize that the lines are gorgeous front to back.
Front LED lights with a teardrop, a split radiator grille with aggressive and poignant shapes, the subtle bling surrounding the lion and the car designation blending in with the entire design. There are so many elements going on in this front that making them fit together is feat deserving of Cirque du Soleil.
Sideways it is a sporty sedan, with a slim profile and fading tail. They even removed the window frames in the doors, which highlight the premium outlook of the car, if not in price, certainly in feel. Total height is 1.4m (for reference, the new Porsche Taycan is 1.38m tall) and the drag coefficient stands at 0.26. That is… Toyota Prius and Tesla S figures.
And the rear, with the triple red lights evokes the Ford Mustang. With all that grunt and noise. With a tailgate that is seamlessly integrated into the entire ensemble and, importantly, with a boot space that not only includes the elusive spare wheel, but also 487 liters of cargo capacity. That is Mercedes E-Class category. Sure, the spec sheet of the German will say it can pack 540 liters, but they took out the spare wheel so… there. Now go ahead with all the run-flat tires at 400$ apiece malarkey…
Style and comfort, little punch…
The interior is pristine. Dashboard is clean and all digital, with various configurations, data sets and color options. Of course, the more choices you have in terms of data presented to you, the more you want, so you can never find the right set up for your specific mood of the moment. Even on personalized format, I could not combine trip with instant fuel consumption and average for the trip and the tank, with the speedo in large numbers at the center, and the track number on the playlist. Dismal.
The center console is presided by a 10″ screen that, unfortunately, is resistive instead of capacitive (read… old GPS vs. iPad). This is certainly an area worth improving as, currently, the total increase in price between the two stands at about 45$. Seriously, worth it, Peugeot. The whole “finger on a calculator screen” thing you have here belongs in the past. True it stays clean longer but it just feels cheap in a car that doesn’t at all!
The drive is, however, where the 508 does not stand out. I will explain. Steering is precise, fast and, daresay, surgical. The chassis and suspension hold you in place beautifully and the mass transfer is far better than expected. However, the 165HP you can extract out of the engine make the entire experience sedated. Don’t get me wrong, comfy and efficient it is, but exciting… it’s not. Which when combined with general aesthetics of the car, you expect a Maxima, and you get a Sunny… Not that you will notice it on your daily drive, but still.
Seats and driving position is pretty good, considering that they needed to pack an electric seat in a car as low as this, and with the ground clearance of a regular sedan. Rear seats are adequate for up to 1.80m tall people. Longer than that and chiropractor visits are a guarantee.
The music. It matters…
Now, I have covered this before both in our review of the 3008 and the 5008 but, once more, the marriage between Peugeot and Focal for the sound system is one made in heaven. Sure we are all listening to uber-compressed mp3 files with booming bass and muted harmonics. But using proper audio equipment is like taking the TV dinner from the container, placing it in a nice plate, garnish with some herbs, olive oil and ground fresh pepper and eat it with silver cutlery. The alternative is eating it in the container, with plastic sporks and ketchup. Not the same.
Looks, feel, comfort, perks and price? Well, absolutely yes. Top of the line, the 508 will set you back 33,000$ and the entry level is just 24,300$. For what you get in return, the value is outstanding. If only they had a hybrid version…
(*) At the time of publishing, Peugeot EU has started taking orders for the 508 and 5008 Hybrid, for 2020 production.