Peugeot has rearmed its 508 range with a fresh look, cleaner engines and a modernised cockpit, before sending it back into a saloon market that’s proving a bloody battleground for mainstream car makers. Peugeot’s revamped saloon and estate range goes on UK sale this autumn, with prices likely to start around £20,000.
What’s new with the 508?
The Passat rival looks refreshed by a new nose: the grille is larger, with the lion badge taking up residence there having deserted the bonnet. And the design team has taken a set square to the nose, making the bonnet more horizontal and the grille more vertical, all in the name of enhancing ‘status’.
New LED lamps make an appearance, while the rear is revised with a new bumper and more horizontal lamps. ‘We’ve worked a lot on the exterior,’ product chief Xavier Peugeot told CAR Online.
‘And the efforts we are making on quality, reliability and robustness must be connected with our pricing power. You will progressively see that on all our models, there will be no exception.’ So expect to pay a little more for your future Peugeots.
Inside, there’s a taste of the 308’s ‘i-Cockpit’, where buttons are strictly unwelcome. So in comes a touchscreen to unlock the world of Peugeot apps for 508 customers: they’ll be able to check weather, parking space availability and fuel prices, for example.
Two new gadgets are a reversing camera and blind spot warning signals in the mirrors; these features are now commonplace, which shows how quickly the car world has moved on since the 508’s UK launch in spring 2011.
Peugeot hopes to clean up with low emission engines
Peugeot will offer its 2.0-litre BlueHDI diesel in 150bhp and 180bhp versions. The 150bhp manual emits 105g/km of CO2, which the French claim is best-in-class for such an output. The 180bhp unit is coupled to a new six-speed automatic transmission, and delivers 111g/km.
There’s a new petrol engine too: a 165bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged unit replacing the 156bhp version, which reduces CO2 from 144g/km to 131g/km. The three new engines all meet the Eu6 tailpipe regulations, which come into force as the car goes on sale.
How does 508 fit into Peugeot’s turnaround strategy?
Peugeot-Citroën (PSA) has a new chairman, Carlos Tavares, who is determined to drive down costs, push up prices, open up new markets and simplify the product line-up, in a bid to restore PSA to profitability. While he’s hinted he’ll ditch outmoded duds like the 807 MPV and coupe-convertibles, the 508 will be replaced in a few years. That’s because a D-segment saloon is critical in the Chinese market, which swallows up 30% of production.
Peugeot still has a big problem in mature western markets though. In 2003, the ageing 406 sold 13,221 units in the UK, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. In 2013, just 4280 Peugeot 508s were registered. All told, the 508 has sold 360,000 units since launch.
‘We are seeing some positive signals in the market, and launching new products like this really helps,’ Xavier Peugeot told CAR Online. ‘Some 50% of D-segment sales are to generalist brands [like Peugeot] – there is still room to sell our cars.’
One other curiosity: the 508 was unveiled today in London, an unusual move which will probably irritate President Francois Hollande’s protectionist French government. Peugeot says the location reflects the company’s more international approach, and that London is a vibrant and upmarket city which reflects the 508’s character. It’s also a statement that Peugeot can’t be held back by French parochialism, if it’s to thrive in the global car market.