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Driven: Updated Peugeot 508 lands

Pugly duckling: Peugeot's invigorated and streamlined 508 range has more kit and a big step up in looks.

Peugeot sticks with large sedan segment and facelifted 508 from $37,990

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Peugeot logo18 Mar 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

PEUGEOT says it is confident its refreshed 508 can continue the French brand’s sales renaissance in Australia, despite the slide of local large-car sales.

The importer expects the new 508 to build on the success of its new-generation models that include the 4008 SUV since 2012 and the acclaimed new 308 small hatch launched late last year.

The flagship sedan and wagon range sits on the border between the mid and large markets, with entry-level 1.6-litre petrol version now kicking off from $37,990 before on road costs.

That price has crept up by $1000 over the previous model, but Peugeot says the freshened range will attract attention with its sharpened look and more equipment, despite being placed in a market that has suffered declining sales.

Speaking at the local launch of the updated 508, Peugeot Automobiles Australia national marketing manager Dimitri Andreatidis told GoAuto the large-car market still had life in it for the French brand.

“Even though the segment is contracting, it’s still a very important segment, especially when you think about the 508 and the heritage that particular vehicle has,” he said.

“From a commercial perspective that sedan is still a very important segment for us to continue the sales push.”

In Australia, the large sedan passenger segment fell nearly 10 per cent in 2014, but Mr Andreatidis said the changes to the 508 range would draw fresh interest, despite the rise of SUVs.

“The new look and style of the vehicle in particular and the updated features on the car the safety features and there will be a renewed push for the new look car,” he said.

“The SUV segment is growing and people are migrating from other segments into the SUV category. People are also downsizing so there will definitely be that natural migration now.”

While Peugeot has not released official sales targets for the 508, it expects the entry-level Active to attract more buyers, moving from 15 per cent of the 508 total to about 25 per cent.

Mr Andreatidis said the wagon could also produce a surprise result.

“Interestingly we've noticed that with the 308 we under-called the success of the wagon,” he said. “Customers vote with their feet, and with a renewed focus on the 508 the consumers will dictate whether there is any additional interest in the car and we'll wait and see.”

For 2015, Peugeot has dropped the mid-range petrol-powered Allure sedan and wagon, with the 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo now only available under the bonnet of the base Active sedan.

However, the $37,990 base 508 has been given a little more poke with an extra 6kW and the same 240Nm from the much awarded PSA engine that uses 5.8-litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle – the most frugal in its class, says Peugeot.

While the price has been increased $1000, Peugeot has included about $4000 worth of extra kit in the base variant.

Peugeot predicts its middle-of-the-range Allure sedan and Touring (wagon) options will be the bread-winners of the range, attracting buyers with their 2.0-litre HDi diesel that produces 120kW and a chunky 340Nm of torque and accelerates to 100km/h from standstill in 9.2 seconds and uses 5.7L/100km.

The sedan has gained $2000 to its ticket, priced from $45,990, as has the Touring equivalent that is now $48,990, but those increases are offset by the inclusion of $2500 worth of extra standard gear.

Sitting at the top of the pile is the performance-focused GT with a larger 2.2-litre diesel engine kicking out 150kW and a hearty 450Nm, enough to push the flagship 508 to 100km/h in 8.2 seconds while using no more fuel than the smaller engine option.

Prices for the GT start at $58,490 for the sedan and $61,490 for the big-booted Touring, marking a $1700 increase for both variants. However, they get leather sports seats with a massage function.

All versions drive the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission that has manual-mode paddle shifters, and are equipped with a new reverse camera and seven-inch touchscreen as standard.

Up front, the 508 now wears a sharper distinctive look with a more pedestrian-friendly flattened nose, redesigned grilles LED running and fog lights and classier headlights, which on GT versions are all-LED.

Moving to the back end, the 508 now has a cleaner and simpler look with a more muscular bumper and neater all-LED lights complemented by lower chrome-look accents.

The revisions to the 508 styling have added 16mm to the front sedan and Touring overhang and 22mm to the sedan rear overhang – 38mm in total.

Active variants open the proceedings with a new design 17-inch alloy wheel, while the mid-range Allure has a new 18-inch rim, while the top-spec GT gets a new-look 19-inch set of alloys.

The full range has also received a good upgrade on the inside with a 7.0-inch touchscreen standard across the board controlling a rationalised entertainment and information system as well as shortcut buttons to access the various systems including the air-conditioning.

A new storage box has been created by the cleaning up of the centre console, while a head-up display is now standard on GT variants or as an option on the Allure.

Other options on all versions include keyless entry and start, auto park brake, automatic dipping headlights, self-dimming rear view mirror, tyre pressure monitoring, front and rear parking sensors and a top-end JBL sound system.

As before, most 508 variants ride on MacPherson suspension at the front and a multi-arm set up at the back. The sportier GT has a more responsive double-wishbone layout on the front axle.

Steering is adaptive and electrically powered, while ventilated front brakes measure 304mm by 28mm for the entry level versions and 340mm by 30mm for the hottest GT. Rear discs are 290mm by 12mm and solid for all versions.

Electronic stability control, ABS, emergency brake assist, electronic brake distribution and hill-hold are all standard.

Peugeot's largest sedan with a wide range of competitors including the Holden Commodore, Ford Mondeo, Mazda6, Toyota Camry, Citroen C5, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Passat.

Peugeot 508 pricing*
Active petrol (a)$37,990
Allure diesel (a)$45,990
Allure Touring diesel (a)$48,990
GT diesel (a)$58,490
GT Touring diesel (a) $61,490
*Excludes on-road costs.

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