THE lion is very much alive and roaring as Peugeot’s new 508 models move onto Britain’s roads.
Launched here in May, there were 3,500 orders in the first three months, keeping the French company well on the way to its 6,500 target for this year.
A high proportion of the sales will be to the fleet market and after a drive in a couple of the new models I am convinced there will be some very happy drivers behind the wheel.
I sampled some saloon models – there’s also SW estate body – and was suitably impressed with their style and performance.
The 508 has the looks of a luxury model when viewed from any angle and this big saloon is just as elegant inside.
There are five trim levels – Access, SR, Active, Allure and GT – and my drives were in Active and Allure versions.
The spacious interior offers lots of comfort for driver and four passengers and all models are well equipped.
I spent some time with an Allure HDi 140 model and felt the 2-litre 140bhp engine was ideally suited to the car.
This is a superb diesel unit which had plenty of oomph when needed yet cruised ever so quietly and smoothly when sitting at motorway speeds.
Performance figures are pretty good, going from zero to 62mph in 9.8 seconds and having a 130mph maximum speed.
There was lots of mid-range power going up and down the six-speed manual gearbox for overtaking from an engine that also scores top marks on economy with figures of 72mpg extra urban, 58.8mpg combined and 44.1mpg urban.
Ride comfort was good and the 508 had excellent handling abilities on some winding roads with its sharp responsive steering.
The price of this model is £23,400 and my next test was in an Active e-HDi 112, costing £21,050.
The previous car’s economy figures were impressive but way behind this environmental champion.
It returns an amazing 74.3mpg extra urban, 67.2mpg combined and 57.6mpg urban. It also has the lowest CO2 emissions figure of just 109g/km for the range.
The Stop and Start system on this model sees the engine switching off 5mph before standstill and restarting .4 seconds after your foot leaves the brake pedal.
Despite the drop in power, this 1-6-litre 112bhp engine wasn’t overworked when going up and down a smooth moving six-speed automatic transmission.
With the savings on fuel it is certain to be the most popular 508.
The Active model’s standard features include radio/CD player and USB box, leather steering wheel, cruise control and 17-inch alloy wheels while the more lavish Allure additions included automatic electric parking brake with hill assist, electric folding door mirrors, rear parking aid, keyless entry with start/stop button, electrically adjustable and heated front seats with half leather trim and 18-inch alloys.
Other diesel engine choices are 2-litre 163bhp and 2.2-litre 200bhp while there are two 1.6-litre petrol units, offering 120bhp and 156bhp.
The 508 is a stylish, good all-rounder that offers great value for money with prices starting at £18,450.