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Peugeot 508: Sleek GT ticks the executive boxes

By Roger St. Pierre

When I needed to refuel my old Mercedes 300 SEL for the first time it was just like playing a ’Spot The Ball’ competition. For the life of me, I could not find the filler cap.

It turned out to be hidden behind the number plate, which proved to be a pull-down contraption – a clever idea but one that caused me immense frustration on that first acquaintance.

I met a similar conundrum when I tried to locate the boot release of my Peugeot 508 test car. It was several days before I finally discovered the elusive button hidden away behind the figure “0” of the 508 badge.

I am glad to report that, apart from a roof-line that needs to be a couple of inches higher to make getting in and out easier, that was the only fault I could find in what is a superbly well-sorted GT machine that provides executive style motoring for a highly competitive £28,050.

Small Peugeots have always sold well here but the French company has never had much luck in the British and Irish markets with its bigger cars, though a number of them have been remarkably good.

Let’s hope they can break the mould with this latest fine effort.  Talking of moulds that could do with breaking, my only criticism of the undeniably elegant and svelte bodywork is that the 508 looks very similar to a number of its key rivals, with only that gaping great mouth organ grin of a grille and the big, proud rampant lion badge on the bonnet to make it stand out in the car park.

The cars available in Europe and almost all other markets are built in France but the company has built a new factory in China to cope with demand in what is the world’s fastest growing market.

The 508’s interior reeks of quality and cutting-edge design, with instrumentation and controls that are a paragon of virtue – form and function receiving equal prominence in the design process. Curvaceously pure shapes and simple elegance are the hallmarks, with great attention given to choice of materials

A new generation of e-HDi and Hybrid4 technologies are to be found in various models across the 508 range and there’s a choice of suspension set-up, with GT versions like my test car featuring enhanced dynamic roadholding to match the impressive performance of the 204 bhp 2.2-litre HDRi diesel engine. Driven sympathetically, a whisker under 50 mpg is attainable in the combined cycle.

Claimed top speed of that model is 145 mph, with a 0-62 mph acceleration figure of 8.2 seconds exploiting the smooth-changing six-speed automatic transmission, which can be over-ridden by fingertip flappy paddles.

17 different versions of the 508 saloon are available, with the entry-level 1.6 litre HDidiesel model priced at £19,300 on the road. In addition there’s a 16 version 508 SW estate car range.

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