The local large executive sedan market has been the playground for the “Big Three” Japanese brands for ages.
But in recent years, Continental brands have been making some in-roads into this exclusive club with aggressive marketing and new generation models.
Introduced locally by Nasim Sdn Bhd in 2011, the Peugeot 508 has made itself a compelling alternative with competitive pricing, sporty design and high levels of vehicle specifications. Now, this French lion has undergone restyling into a more elegant looking vehicle as it claws deeper into premium car territory.
Compared with the previous 508, the new model is now 38mm longer, resulting in a more graceful proportion befitting a classy ride.
While the wheelbase remains unchanged, we noticed that the rear legroom is still generous during a recent media test drive of the refreshed 508 from Kuala Lumpur to Negri Sembilan and back.
Moving away from the previous 508’s feline-looking front with a sloping bonnet, the new car gets a bonnet and grille that are redesigned to be more horizontal and business-like.
The large lion logo is now placed on the grille, away from the bonnet lip position in the previous model. The rear bumper has also been re-contoured and is 22mm longer.
As LED lighting is the current automotive flavour for better illumination while using less energy, the 508 comes with full-LED headlamps in a new signature housing, curved LED daytime running strips at the lower front and LED tail lamps featuring a three-claw look.
Inside, the dashboard looks largely the same with a colour head-up display and metallic-ringed dials in the instrument panel. But now the 508 gets a seven-inch HD multi-function touchscreen that groups most of the 508’s functions such as infotainment and satellite navigation in an intuitive way. This has eliminated the need for a rotary controller used in the previous 508.
The spacious interior feels upmarket with leather upholstery and metallic trimmings. The 508 can seat five persons in comfort and rear passengers have their own air conditioning vents with settings for blower speed and temperature.
While the 1.6-litre turbo high pressure (THP) engine with direct injection is similar to that of the previous 508, the powerplant has been retuned to deliver 7bhp more at 163bhp.
Maximum torque is unchanged at 240Nm and reaches its peak from 1,450 to 4,250rpm, allowing for quick take-offs from standstill.
The engine powers up instantaneously with hardly any turbo lag, making the 508 fun and satisfying to drive.
With three persons on-board during our media drive, the 508 does not feel sluggish and can exceed the legal speed limit in moments.
Peugeot says the 508 can do the 0-100kph sprint in 9.2 seconds and has a top speed of 220kph. Good sound insulation and a low drag co-efficient of 0.26 have managed to keep wind noises to a minimum when the 508 is driven at high speeds.
The six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission from Aisin is slick and drivers can engage a more spirited driving experience with the unit’s paddle shifters and sport mode.
Like most continental brands, the 508’s suspension is set firmer compared with typical Japanese makes for better handling and driving dynamics.
However, this setting is still comfortable enough for long distance cruising and travelling on rough roads.
The 18-inch wheel with 235/45 low profile tyres provided good grip on winding trunk roads of Negri Sembilan.
The electro-hydraulic steering is responsive and has a nicely weighted feel.
Its generous boot space of 545 litres should be able to hold at least four golf bags but can be expanded to 1,244 litres if more items need to be carried.
In addition to an enjoyable drive, the 508 comes feature-packed — six airbags, LED fog lamp with cornering assist, blind spot information system, reverse camera, electronic stability programme, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake distribution, emergency brake assist, anti-skid regulation, dynamic stability control, hill start assist and push button start/stop with keyless entry.
Other items include ISOFIX anchoring, cruise control, speed limiter, smart high beam, Peugeot Rolling Code Transponder immobiliser security with perimetric and volumetric alarm, premium JBL hi-fi 10 speakers with subwoofer and Bluetooth/ USB/CD/MP3 support, Arkarmys 3D sound processor and Peugeot Jukebox.
The car has also scored a full five-star rating from Euro NCAP.
Aside from the 508 sedan, other variants are the 1.6-litre THP SW station wagon and the 2.2-litre HDI turbodiesel GT sedan.
Tentative prices are RM175,000 for the 508 THP, RM185,000 for the 508 THP SW and RM205,000 for the GT.
Available colours are Pearl White, Bourrasque Blue, Pine Brown, Artense Grey and Harla Grey.