|Peugeot has repositioned its upper medium 508 as a stylish fastback gunning for the German premium brands.|
|Key rival:||Volkswagen Arteon|
|First Drive: Peugeot 508 GT 225 EAT8 Auto|
The Peugeot 508 is a striking new five-door fastback that’s expected to appeal to the company car sector significantly more than its predecessor.
Slumping residuals meant the outgoing 508 was almost entirely a retail car by the end of its life, but the repositioned new model is expected to have a fleet ratio of around 80%, with much-improved residuals, a range of efficient engines and the lengthy equipment lists backing up the head-turning looks.
Peugeot thinks around a third of sales will be the petrol models, less than previously planned because the 130hp petrol engine isn’t now going to form part of the range. This leaves only the 180hp and the 225hp versions of the turbo 1.6 petrol engine, the latter of which we drive here. They join 130hp, 160hp and 180hp diesels across a range of five trim levels. At the top end, which are expected to account for more than half of sales, it’s the premium German brands that Peugeot is very focused on, with the Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe and VW Arteon as the 508’s main targets.
Emissions of 131g/km are good considering the performance on offer from the 225hp petrol engine. This motor combines nicely with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that doesn’t like to be noticed, which is always a good trait in an auto. The diesels, impressively, get below 100g/km; these are figures that actually beat those of the outgoing 508 despite the change in testing regime that has increased emissions figures across the board.
Inside, the quality and design is as nicely done as the exterior, making for a car in line with the excellent 3008 and 5008 SUVs.The driving experience is unremarkable, and one area where the Audi and BMW still hold an edge, but the 508 hits back with comprehensive equipment, going as far as massage seats on the top trims. The residual values, too, match those of Peugeot’s more esteemed rivals. Which is impressive. But the pricing is also up, with the range starting at £25,000 and going up to £37,400; this represents a significant ramp up, especially as Peugeot is pledging to resist discounting or any distress selling.
Modest volumes of around 6000 for a full year, once the SW estate version launches in early 2019, seem achievable for a welcome, classy and striking new arrival into the upper medium sector.