Sunday, 21 April 2019

French carmaker’s latest saloon has super styling

French carmaker’s latest saloon has super styling

IN any history of 21st century motoring still to be written, today should be considered a golden age of design for the French carmaker Peugeot.

Peugeot is no stranger to consistently pleasing design and has been an exponent of the art — not only in cars — since the early 1800s.

The family business that preceded the current car company was founded in 1810 and made stylish coffee mills and bicycles.

Émile Peugeot applied for the famous lion trademark in 1858 and Peugeot’s first automobile — a steam-powered tricycle — was built in 1889.

The present day “family” of SUVs (sport utility vehicles) made by Peugeot — the 2008, 3008 and 5008 — have proved a triumph both for their design and popularity.

So it was no surprise to me that this week’s drive, the new Peugeot 508, turned out to be spectacularly smooth and sleek-looking.

Here, Peugeot has taken the standard saloon shape of a car and blessed it with super styling.

The Peugeot 508 was launched in 2010. The next year the 508 SW, an estate version, appeared. But now this all-new 2019 Peugeot 508 has accelerated the carmaker into a consistently winning state of car design across its model range.

Indeed, the Peugeot 508 was named the “Most Beautiful Car of the Year 2018” in January as part of the International Automobile Festival in Paris.

“We want to create exciting looking cars with strong personality,” said Gilles Vidal, Peugeot’s design director, who has been shaping the “look” of the carmaker’s models for nearly a decade.

Vidal told Automotive News Europe that the new 508 was purposely made 51mm lower than its predecessor and the design concentrated on how the car would look in silhouette.

“We think that when you look at the car from a hundred metres, the shape should be super obvious and super simple,” Vidal said.

That may come across as so much design-speak, but I think it works. There is something instantly attractive about this car from a distance. Then as you get closer the detail in its fine styling is brought into focus.

All of which can be translated into a perhaps more down-to-earth phrase where cars with a wow factor are concerned. This new 508 is a classic “head-turner” (especially in the test car colour of blue).

On a practical note, the large rear hatch reveals a generous 487-litre boot space. The interior is comfortable and displays the main characteristics of Peugeot’s
i-Cockpit design: a compact, leather trimmed steering wheel, a large 10in capacitive touchscreen angled towards the driver and a 12.3in head-up digital instrument panel.

The car also features i-Cockpit Amplify, which enables the driver to choose between two levels of ambience: “boost” and “relax”.

Ambience is a much over-used word where car interiors are concerned, but in the case of the 508 you get the message — the interior ambience works a treat.

The 508 is available with a range of six petrol and diesel engine options and transmission combinations, covering 130 to 225 horsepower.

The new model comes equipped with advanced driver assistance systems, including a night vision system, which uses an infrared camera with the ability to detect pedestrians at night and in cases of reduced visibility.

I would like to drive this car in electric or hybrid form and report back to you on how the 508 performs. I think the sophisticated look of the 508, which is such an achievement, needs to — and will be, of course — matched to the “new” power sources that will drive cars of the future.

To this end, at the Geneva Motor Show, Peugeot showed off its 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered concept — an evolution of the 2018 all-new Peugeot 508 Hybrid that will be the next in a long line of high performance models from Peugeot Sport. Its hybrid powertrain combines performance and efficiency, delivering 0-62 mph in 4.3 seconds and CO2 emissions of 49 g/km.

The 1,997cc turbocharged diesel engine in the test car also performed well — especially in sport mode — and was satisfactory at motorway cruising speeds.

But as I say, I find myself quite hungry now to match the good looks of such cars as the 508 with the exciting new engine power sources in future models.


All-new Peugeot 508 GT BlueHDi 180 Auto

Cost of test car: £38,914

Colour: Celebes Blue

All-new 508 comes with radical Fastback design

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

• Breaks the mould of the traditional, four-door saloon

• Engine capacity: 1,997cc (turbocharged diesel)

• Combined fuel economy: 50.6 mpg

Options on test car: Metallic paint (£575), Night Vision (£1,300), Visio Park 3 (£600)