If you thought the large saloon car was dead, think again. This is the all-new Peugeot 508, and the range-topping First Edition version is available to order now – for £36,975.
Despite ever-dwindling saloon sales as buyers abandon them in favour of SUVs, Peugeot clearly believes there"s still a place for the 508, which will rival the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport and Ford Mondeo when it goes on sale, as well as addressing fierce competition from cars like the Kia Optima and Volkswagen Passat.
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In fact, the new 508 isn"t a saloon at all, but a "fastback coupe". Peugeot has concentrated on creating a sporty aesthetic, with styling treatments that echo the Instinct concept car from the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. However, while that was a two-door "shooting brake", the 508 is a five-door hatchback with a low, coupe-aping roofline not dissimilar to the Volkswagen Arteon. That could see it in with a shout of stealing sales from the BMW 4 Series, Audi A5 and Mercedes C-Class, particularly in the high-specification First Edition trim of early examples.New Peugeot 508 design
Like the Arteon, the 508 features frameless side windows, but trades the VW"s elegance for a more muscular look. Recessed headlamps characterise the front end, with dagger-like daytime running lights that slice down through the headlights and a shallow, thrust-forward grille with three-dimensional detailing and a prominent lion emblem. The 508 model name is positioned above this – a detail that recalls celebrated Peugeot saloons of the 1970s.
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The sides are deeply sculpted, with a sharp feature line that starts at the front door and leads the eye over a set of broad rear wheelarches before fading ahead of the "claw-effect" LED rear lights. These are concealed within a dark full-width moulding and appear to only be visible when illuminated.
The full-width panel echoes a dark-coloured diffuser-style panel beneath the rear bumper, which houses reflectors and reversing lights mounted above prominent exhaust outlets – these images show one on each side, but this feature could be reserved for the most powerful models. Sportiness certainly seems to be on the agenda, though, if the large, wheelarch-filling alloy wheels are any indication.
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Despite its sleek looks, Peugeot claims the new 508 is more versatile than the outgoing model, with a 487-litre boot and wide tailgate opening for ease of access. The choice of a hatchback layout will be welcomed by families and anyone who regularly needs to carry bulky items – for whom a saloon bootlid can hamper a car"s practicality.Technology and engines
Inside, it"s clear Peugeot has applied some of the thinking that characterises the Peugeot 3008 and Peugeot 5008 SUVs, with a comparatively small, low-mounted steering wheel designed to be looked past, rather than through. An i-Cockpit digital dashboard is mounted above, and is standard across the range; its 12.3-inch screen can be configured to show various combinations of information. Range-topping models boast i-Cockpit Amplify, which presents the "dials" in either a sportier or more relaxing way, as well as providing a simulated "enhanced" engine noise and an invigorating massage for front-seat occupants.
Allure trim and above have a 10-inch central touchscreen with "piano keys" to access key menus directly. 3D TomTom sat-nav mapping is included, and Mirrorlink, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity are featured. Infrared night vision is also promised as part of "class-leading levels of advanced driver assistance systems".
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The first 508s offered to UK buyers are high-specification First Edition cars, with a choice of a 222bhp 1.6-litre PureTech petrol or a 178bhp 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel. Both are teamed with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Further engines will join the range in due course, with power outputs starting at 128bhp.
With a plug-in hybrid version of the 5008 SUV expected this year, it"s likely that the same drivetrain will eventually be offered in the 508 – both cars use the EMP2 mechanical platform that"s shared by other cars built by PSA Group (Peugeot"s parent company).
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You can order a 508 now, but initially only in high-specification First Edition trim. This model showcases pretty much every feature the 508 offers, which is reflected in a starting price of £36,975 for the 1.6-litre PureTech petrol, rising to £37,400 for the 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel. Only 200 First Edition cars will be offered, with deliveries commencing in October. A wider range will follow and we expect a modest price increase over the current model, which starts at £25,340.