Mr. Ferrari’s preference for “Pugs” not only prop the popular notion that “il Commendatore” really did not care much about his road cars, regarding these as mere sales tools that financed his beloved race team, but that he really had a nose for business and style. Why keep a Ferrari road car when he can sell this? He could easily tool around the Italian countryside in a 404 and the 504s, which also matched his natty Italian suits and Wayfarer, anyway.
Guess the present Peugeot 508 would, too, and the only way this cannot be stated with absolute certainty is because the 508 has been around only since 2011 while Mr. Ferrari died in 1988. And that’s sad -- well, dying inconveniently is -- because he likely would have appreciated the premium bits that the 508 packs. It is, after all, a modern executive car, and as such offers kit purely unimaginable in a 504. Or even in any Ferrari road car up to the time of the master’s death. Quad-zone climate in an F40? Don’t think so.
Big sedans usually summon images of baggy clothes over baggy skin, or even a baggy prostate -- things common to middle-aged men, in short.
But the 508, especially in 2.0 HDi Allure garb (as seen here), escapes the golf-and-gout get-up by way of sheet metal pressed in all the right places. It’s metal where bulges are checked by crisp creases and where flanks are adorned by, well, nothing, really. Unmistakable French flair then comes through in the shape of the windows and lamps (front and tail) and grille. That sliver of metal hanging over a part of the grille is just plain inspired, a subtle but essential touch of ooh-la-la.
The car’s cabin is just as nice, melding leather and soft plastics and polished silvery items in forms that are tidy and which do not appear to strive fashion. Rather, logical is the theme here, where controls are intuitive to use and placed in spots usual to European cars. The multimedia is painless to rifle through.
Tasteful also applies. The instruments glow, not glare (even the foot well is bathed in a soft light). The leather, supple and somber. Smart entry with push-button engine start/stop, steering wheel buttons for audio and cruise controls, automatic quad-zone climate settings with rear vents, head-up display, sunshades and a JBL eight-speaker setup posh up the cabin even more.
The 508’s ride isn’t shabby, too, biased on comfort then factoring in control next. So the car wafts rather than floats, and can go round a corner without leaning over too much toward the left or right -- just like French liberalism. The more sedate 18-inch tires on the Allure (the top-spec GT wears sportier, inch-bigger shoes) also hush things down. An executive car, the 508 is.
No gripes regarding the car’s four-pot, 2.0-liter diesel mill either. With common rail direct injection and a turbo it makes 163 horsepower and, more tellingly, 340 Newton-meter of torque at a low 2,000rpm. This means it can shoot the 508 through clogged Metro Manila roads briskly, effortlessly.
On freer stretches, it lets the 508 remain relaxed even at fast clips, with ample oomph on tap should there be a need for quick action. Not bad, considering the engine bolts to a six-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission.
Diesel clatter? Nothing loud enough to bitch about.
Pricing hobbles the 508’s package. In 2.0 HDi Allure trim (P2.150 million) the car’s refinement, performance and equipment are par for the executive-sedan course. But it costs a bit more than the Honda Accord 3.5 SV and Toyota Camry 3.5 Q, both of which boast of V6 engines.
To blame here is the fact that Peugeots arrive in the Philippines coming directly from France, and so they cost more to ship, not to mention getting slapped with duties -- which Japanese manufacturers are exempted from by way of a trade agreement.
Two less cylinders should not really dent the 508’s mettle -- its diesel mill can run with the pack. Plus, because it’s a diesel, it’s cheaper at the pumps.
The way to look at the 508 2.0 HDi Allure is that it is not a pricey competitor to Japanese (or even Korean) executive limos but rather an affordable alternative to premium European sedans. Because, quite simply, it is. -- Brian M. Afuang
Peugeot 508 2.0 HDi Allure
Price: P2.150 million
Engine: 2.0-liter, inline-four, diesel; 163hp @ 3,750rpm, 340Nm @ 2,000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
Wheels/Tires: 18 inches, 235/45
Key features: Smart entry with push-button engine start/stop; JBL multimedia with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB and aux-in connectivity; auto HID lighting with LED daytime running lamps; rain-sensing wipers; quad-zone climate control; tire pressure monitoring