Re: 1979 Peugeot 505 review
[Continued from page 56]
The 505 has a longitudinally mounted engine and it´s oversquare. The crankshaft has 5 bearings and the cooling fan is self-engaging (aren´t they all these days?). The cylinder block is cast iron, explaining the 2645 lbs weight. Ford´s stripling, the Granada weighs a mere 2612 kilos.
I tested the 505 in SR specification, assuredly the most popular choice for the middle-ranking businessman market. The engine is a carburetted 1971 cc unit which produces 96 horspower and 118 ft lbs of torque (trumping the wheezy Granada´s 111 ft lbs). In manual form, Peugeot claim that the car can return 29 mpg at 75 mph. During a steady drive around the Péripherique I managed a more realistic 26 mpg. The fuel tank holds 12.3 gallons, allowing 320 comfortable miles between feeds, perhaps more if you drive cautiously. I was unable to record any acceleration figures but the quoted 12 seconds to 60 mph sounds credible. Importantly, the car can push ahead and keep up with the rest of the charging executives rushing to meet month´s end targets. The engine drones a bit, especially at cruising speed. Perhaps a fifth gear would be handy, but again that´s reserved for the TI and STI models. Most competitors make do with four anyway.
The saloon deploys Mastervac power assisted disc brakes at the front, drums hindmost. Only the more expensive TI and STI have rear discs. The brakes work very well: as an example of this, I motored to Versailles where I wanted lunch at the Bistro Petit Guignol. Their stewed ox-kidney (in wine with mushrooms) is legendary. However, a roadside sign at a truckstop promised cassoulet for only 12 francs so I made a lightning-fast decision to stop there and then. The car pulled up straight and without fuss. So, that was lunch.
I realised it had been a while since I´d tucked into a really good braised shin of beef. It´s a cheap and tough cut of meat but handled well, it can be corking. In a sense, the Peugeot is like this. The car is a straight forward saloon but all aspects of its design and construction have been handled with consummate skill.
There´s a friendly hotel in Nantes called the Duc D´Orly where braised shin is superbly prepared and well worth the 260 mile trip. I meandered out of Versailles, feeling quite fresh despite the very sizeable brandies that had rounded off lunch. Underway, I decided that the steering, a rack and pinion system, which is power assisted on all models is pleasant and very well balanced. Compared to the porridge from Vauxhall, the Peugeot´s steering astonishing and perhaps this is the 505´s best trait. Perhaps only Citroen, Bristol and Lancia might to do it better. That said, only motoring correspondents care much about steering.
The ashtray was competitively sized but is placed directly behind the gearstick. For British market cars, this will be a constant nuisance while our continental cousins will consider the placement quite logical and natural.
The route from Versailles to Nantes afforded a good chance to try the car on the open roads.
The 505 feels well planted at normal speeds. On the limit, the rear-drive 505 presents a smidgin of understeer but if you lift off the throttle suddenly, the tail loosens and some perceptible oversteer makes itself felt. The steering signals this by lightening. It takes a mere flick of opposite lock to correct this or, alternatively one can open the throttle to adjust the 505´s attitude. It seems here that while the car looks strikingly restrained there is a streak of the same sporting behaviour that makes the BMW 518i the choice of pushy professional men today. The 505 can behave like a driver´s car, a detail to give BMW, Alfa and Triumph cause for pause.