Ex­clu­sive images of bold Peu­geot 508

Auto Express - - Contents - John Mcil­roy John_m­cil­roy@den­nis.co.uk @john­m­cil­roy

■ Ex­clu­sive images show more dy­namic look for next big sa­loon

PEU­GEOT is plan­ning a more style-fo­cused new gen­er­a­tion of its 508, due in 2018 as a ri­val to ev­ery­thing from the BMW 3 Se­ries to the Vaux­hall In­signia and Volk­swa­gen’s newly launched Ar­teon.

Sales of ‘D-seg­ment’ sa­loons such as the 508, In­signia and Ford Mondeo have suf­fered in the past decade, thanks to the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of SUVS and pre­mium brands such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes of­fer­ing more main­stream pric­ing on their mod­els.

Peu­geot’s sis­ter brand Citroen is said to be com­pletely aban­don­ing the sa­loon for­mat – at least for European cus­tomers – and will launch a C5 Air­cross cross­over (right) later this year in­stead. Peu­geot in­sists it needs to main­tain a sa­loon model along­side its 5008 SUV, how­ever. Speak­ing last week at the Geneva Mo­tor Show, prod­uct di­rec­tor Lau­rent Blanchet said: “The po­si­tion­ing of our brand is to be the best high-end main­stream. What does that mean?

“It means that we don’t want to be pre­mium; there is an­other [PSA] brand for that, which is DS. What we want is to be a very good gen­er­al­ist brand, and to be a very good gen­er­al­ist brand you have to be re­ally present in the D-seg­ment.”

Well placed sources have told Auto Ex­press to ex­pect a more style-fo­cused car in­stead of a con­ven­tional three-box shape; our ex­clu­sive images hint at how it could look. Peu­geot’s head of de­sign, Gilles Vi­dal, said: “The re­quire­ments in that area of the mar­ket are dif­fer­ent – de­pend­ing on which part of the world you are in. But in Europe the D-seg­ment is dy­ing; what is suc­ceed­ing is more dy­namic and more com­pact.”

Ex­pect the In­stinct con­cept, shown at the re­cent Mo­bile World Congress, to in­flu­ence the new 508 – which should also get a more swoop­ing, coupé-like roofline that pri­ori­tises style over space in the rear.

Vi­dal said: “The In­stinct is quite a short ve­hi­cle but, well, you can scale it, you know?” He also ad­mit­ted that the con­cept’s dis­tinc­tive ver­ti­cal LED day­time run­ning lights are un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for pro­duc­tion mod­els in the near fu­ture.

His com­ments were echoed by Peu­geot CEO Jean-philippe Im­parato, who said: “We never do this type of con­cept [In­stinct] for free; we are send­ing you some de­sign mes­sages. What you are look­ing for at the front of this car will give you some key in­for­ma­tion for the next step for us.

“The stylish code [on the In­stinct] must send some el­e­ments of the sedan strat­egy that we have, so it could be in­ter­est­ing to see that on the next gen­er­a­tion of 508.”

Un­der the skin, this next-gen­er­a­tion 508 will jump from the out­go­ing model’s rel­a­tively old plat­form to PSA’S EMP2 ar­chi­tec­ture. Cru­cially, this sup­ports plugin petrol hy­brid tech, po­ten­tially al­low­ing Peu­geot to of­fer an elec­tri­fied 508 in the face of fall­ing diesel sales in Western Europe. The car will also fea­ture an up­dated ver­sion of the i-cock­pit lay­out al­ready seen in the lat­est 3008 and 5008.

Blanchet went on to say that Peu­geot needs to be in that sec­tor with both an SUV (such as the 5008) and a car like the 508, par­tic­u­larly with mar­kets such as China, and – even­tu­ally – plans to sell Peu­geot mod­els in the US. “So, we will re­new the 508 – we will have a com­mu­ni­ca­tion on that soon,” Blanchet con­firmed. It’s likely that a new model will be on sale in 2018.

Ex­pect the next 508 to be pre­viewed later this year, with sales start­ing in the first half of 2018. When asked when the car would ar­rive, Blanchet replied: “The cur­rent 508 has been around for six years, so you can rightly as­sume that it will be quite soon.”

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