The summer heat was nothing new for members of the Malaysian automotive media, the landscape however was not.
We called Monte Carlo home for the next couple of days and were surrounded by the lifestyles of the luxurious with its upscale casinos, exotic cars and yacht-lined harbour.
The heli-pad by the hotel we stayed was contanstly busy with helicopters taking-off and landing, ferrying passengers to-and-from the nearest airport in neighbouring Nice.
We were there at the behest of French marque Peugeot, which organised a drive event for its all-new Peugeot 508 sedan.
And when Peugeot said all-new, they meant it. It’s as if they reset the clock back to zero with the 508 design.
Gone was the conventional four-door sedan shape with boot-lid and in its place, a five-door fastback design.
It was, in Peugeot’s own words, a ‘radical’ move and a necessary one as sedan sales in Europe have taken a back seat next to the sports utility vehicles (SUVs).
Competition in the sedan segment is also fierce and Peugeot took the immediate steps for its sedan to remain relevant.
The new 508 really is a breath of fresh air to look at. It’s hard not to notice it on the street with its youthful vigour, sportiness and style.
The car sits lower than before – less than 1.4m tall – with aerodynamic lines making for an attractive and sleek silhouette. The front fascia is attractive with its chrome-plated chequerboard grille.
While tucked underneath the curved and creased bonnet, the proud lion logo of Peugeot remains commanding.
Another distinctive characteristic of this car is the long fang-like daytime running lights (DRL) which starts from the full-LED headlamps to the bumper below.
Peugeot has also done an admirable job at the rear of the 508 with the claw-shaped LED taillights and the twin-exhaust pipes which is reminiscent of an American muscle-car.
The doors are frameless to give it that touch of sportiness and once inside, the French sense of style and design continues in the cabin which takes its i-Cockpit aesthetics to the next level.
If you are familiar with Peugeot’s current interior design, it still has the interesting shapes such as the squarish steering wheel which is more compact now and the gently angled gear lever.
There are some new touches with the 12.3-in high resolution head-up display unit; the 10-in wide HD capacitive touchscreen slim; the flat and long piano key-like chrome switches and the sharp-edged cascading dashboard.
The materials used are just as inviting and plush like one would find in higher end cars such as Nappa leather, Alcantara, satin chrome trim and wood finish.
It is also spacious with enough headroom and legroom with its wheelbase measuring at 2,793mm. Bootspace is also generous at 487 litres and with the rear seats folded, a whopping 1,537 litres.
The 508 also came equipped with technologically-advanced driving aids such as the Night Vision system, adaptive cruise control, lane positioning assist, lane keeping assist, active safety brake, active blindspot monitoring and full park assist among others.
The 508 we were handed for the drive was the top-of-the-range PureTech 225 GT which features a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It produces a maximum output of 225bhp at 5,500rpm and a maximum torque of 300Nm at just 2,500rpm.
It was a bright summer’s day during the drive and after getting through the narrow streets of Monte-Carlo, we hit the highway past Nice and onto a windy B-road where we encountered lush green rolling hills and snow peaked mountains at the Boréon Valley.
One could switch driving modes (there are four modes available- ECO/Sport/Comfort/Normal) or engage the paddle-shifters for a more spirited drive around the turns and bends
The steering is sharp and it handles very well around the corners so whether it was narrow city streets, open highways or the windy mountain road, the 508 proved to be quite an adaptable car.
Local Peugeot distributor Nasim is expected to bring the all-new 508 to our shores next year.