Road test: Peugeot 508 GT has style, price and performance working in its favour
The sedan manages to look far more expensive than its Dh130,000 price tag
A few of my formative years were spent in Tanzania in the mid-1970s, and one of my enduring memories from this period is of the plethora of Peugeot 404s and 504s plying the lumpy, potholed roads of Dar es Salaam. There was a reason for the Gallic brand’s popularity in the region: its cars were not only capable and comfortable, but also able to withstand the sustained pounding inflicted by the awful roads there at the time.
Peugeot seemed to lose its mojo in the noughties, churning out a succession of cars that were frumpy to look at and uninspiring to drive. Fortunately, the French marque has emphatically reversed the slide over the past few years, as its latest offerings (notably the 3008 and 5008 crossovers) reprise the elegant sense of style and supple ride that were former hallmarks of cars wearing the lion logo.
The 508 GT is the latest range-topping addition to the medium-large 508 sedan line-up.
Priced at Dh130,000 ($35,398), the GT comes loaded with bells and whistles, but among its headline features is a 1.6-litre turbo motor that’s substantially uprated to eke out 217 horsepower and 300Nm (increases of 52hp and 60Nm over regular 508 models). Another element that’s unique to the flagship sedan is an eight-speed auto, in lieu of the six-speeder found in lesser 508s.
There’s a great sense of refinement in the way it goes about its work. A 1.6-litre turbo engine might seem small for a car of this size, but it punches well above its weight, and its 300Nm torque quota arrives early on, so there’s no need to rev the living daylights out of it. As a result, even brisk progress can be achieved without getting the decibel level soaring.
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The chassis is also well sorted, serving up a nice balance between ride and handling. The GT lives up to its Grand Touring billing as you can hustle it through corners at a decent pace without any hint of tyre squeal or understeer.
It stays flatter and more composed than most contenders in this segment, and retains the suppleness to soak up road surface imperfections and speed humps without transmitting them through to the cabin.
It’s worth pointing out that the 508 GT I tested was equipped with 18-inch alloys shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, but MY22 cars, which arrive from March onward, will be fitted with 19-inch rims as standard.
It’s got the looks
It only takes a few seconds to glean that the 508 recaptures the impeccable sense of style of ancestors such as the 504 Coupe. Most three-box sedans are yawn-inducing in the visual department, but the 508 has genuine wow factor and manages to look far more expensive than it actually is.
There’s a lovely taper to the profile and – although the 508 has a conventional boot – the roofline sweeps down in a clean, uninterrupted line to culminate in a sharp-edged lip at the rear of the bootlid. There are well-executed creases and bulges all over, and the way the daytime-running-light extends downward into the front spoiler to mimic a lion’s claw is a clever piece of design.
The cabin is also notably stylish and opulent for this segment, and the 508 GT’s living quarters aren’t that far off matching the interior ambience of German prestige sedans. All the touch-and-feel elements are nicely crafted, and there’s no sense of cheapness in any of the materials used.
The 12.3-inch central touchscreen for infotainment, vehicle settings and ventilation controls is intuitive to use, and touching it with three fingers simultaneously enables you to easily switch between the various menus. One criticism is that the tiny PlayStation-esque steering wheel, while nice to hold, obscures the bottom third of the instrument gauge cluster.
Overall, though, the 508 GT serves as further proof that Peugeot has rediscovered its best form. You’d be hard-pressed to find another sedan with more style and panache at this price point.
Updated: February 28, 2021 01:40 PM