Peugeot 508 Fastback: Secret French business


What is it?

Sadly, it’s a vehicle that far too few people will look at and say: “I’d like to drive that.”

And what a massive disservice they’d be doing themselves.

We’ll call it and say, with the ready access to cars that we have — this is as good as you’ll get.

It’s a front-wheel drive machine and a long sloping roof hides the hatchback.

Before GM whacked Holden with the death-stick, Peugeot was a front runner to supply the follow-up to the ZB Commodore, which was a front wheel drive fastback . . . 

There is a wagon version as well, and the pair come in just the one trim level — and that’s the GT.


What’s it cost?

In a way, this could be a hurdle.

The 508 is $56,990 driveaway at the moment, with a recommended price tag of $62K.

But the public perception of the car, probably falls somewhat short of this figure.

For example, you can get a Kia Stinger 2.0-litre turbo for $50,690, or the 3.3-litre V6 with 272kW for $53,690.

The Kia and Peugeot are both four-door fastbacks, both look great and both compete for a now small market share.

What the 508 offers is a 1.6-litre turbo four that drives the front wheels via an 8-speed auto.

It’s a long, low-looking machine, with one of the more unusual, yet by no means unattractive faces.

There are sharp blade LED driving lights that double as indicators up front, full LED lighting for the self-levelling headlights, and a sinuous shape that pulls the eye towards the triple claw LED rears.

Keeping the 508 off the road are 235/45/18s all round, with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 doing the job of providing grip.

In between the rear lights is a powered tailgate that can be operated in several ways — a kicking motion under the back, the keyfob, a press of the Peugeot lion, or a double tap of a button in the gorgeous cabin.

It reveals a respectable 487 to 1537 litre cargo space.

The interior is finished in full leather, with a quilted diamond pattern, with a cool-looking but not terribly ergonomic floating centre console.

The foremost section has two USB ports which aren’t easily seen and there is awkward access to a smartphone charge pad.

Audio is DAB and French high-end speaker maker Focal supplies the speakers. Good? Oh yes.

Above these are the one-touch tabs for nav, audio, touchscreen settings and more. They’re an alloy look plastic that sometimes reflect light directly into the driver’s eyes.

The console has a wrap-around section on the left trimmed with chrome that does the same thanks to being oriented towards the driver.

The drive selector is a pistol grip style unit, with a press “P” for Parking, a sidepress to release and rock backwards or forwards for Drive and Reverse.

A Sports mode changes engine and transmission mapping, with Comfort and Eco drive modes too.

Each of the windows is frameless and drop slightly when the door is opened before raising automatically.

At the rear of the console are a pair of USB ports under a pair of airvents.

Ostensibly a five-seater, the 508 is really configured for four aboard.

With a 2800mm wheelbase, it offers good legroom front and rear, as it also does shoulder room. Rear head room is tight for anyone looking at 180cm or more.

The driver get’s Peugeot’s sweet looking i-cockpit digital display across a 12.3 inch screen.

A roll and press of a tab-dial on the steering wheel’s left arm brings up a number of different looks; from a proper pair of dials to a navigation insert to basically just the speed. 

Trip meter info is accessed via a button on the end of the right-hand wiper stalk.

These are rain sensing, while the left hand stalk activates the sequential indicators and auto-dimming high beam.

Safety-wise it dips out on a knee bag, but has Peugeot’s Safety Plus pack. That includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).


What’s it go like?

For a vehicle that is 4750mm long, it weighs a lithe 1385kg dry.

This contributes nicely to our final fuel consumption of 6.4L/100km, from a tank that holds 62 litres.

This comes from a 1200km drive that included a run to and from Sydney to the NSW south coast.

It shows 300Nm of torque, peaking at 2750 rpm, is a good figure for the 508 Fastback — but our final figure is even more impressive, considering we had four aboard plus luggage.

The 165kW of power that the 1.6-litre engine has available also comes in very handy for country roads overtaking. 

In a line of traffic, we prepared to pass on a number of caravans heading uphill.

As their speed dropped and after confirming the road was clear, the 508 GT made short work of passing the traffic ahead.

Rolling acceleration is sensational too; not quite as quick as the 510Nm Stinger — but that’s also a heavier car.

Ride quality is as good as you’ll get from a car like this.

Magic carpet fits as a description as each corner is perfectly damped, quick to respond, and tuned for an ideal mix of comfort around town, safe cruising on the highway, and sporty when it’s needed.

The flat-bottomed steering wheel is on the smaller side and this also helps with the sporty feel.

It’s quick and precise in its response across all driving situations.

If there was one thing notable about the 508 GT, it was the surreptitious looks, the not-quite-veiled sideways glances from the public.

One or two people in carparks wandered over to have a closer look.

The most common question was: “who makes it?”

It’s an image problem that needs some work.


What we like?

  • French model good looks
  • Impressive performance for a small engine
  • Superb ride and handling


What we don’t like?

  • Some interior design quirks aren’t terribly user friendly
  • Price perception versus undoubted value
  • Invisible market presence


The bottom line?

Peugeot’s 508 GT fastback is welcome in our driveway anytime.

It’s a truly user-friendly, all-rounder, from the city, to the suburbs to the highway.

It wins in terms of economy, comfort and ride quality.

But as good as the 508 might be, it doesn’t matter very much if nobody knows about the car.

So, it’s over to you, Peugeot marketing and budget types — to do something about it.


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Peugeot 508 Fastback, priced from $56,990 driveaway
  • Looks - 9/10
  • Performance - 9/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 9/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
  • Comfort - 8.5/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 8/10