Manchester Evening News - - MOTORS -

REIN­VEN­TION is very much in vogue with French car maker Peu­geot at the mo­ment, with the brand’s range in the midst of a com­pre­hen­sive over­haul as it con­tin­ues its mis­sion to move into more up­mar­ket ter­ri­tory.

The 3008 and 5008 SUVs led the way, re­plac­ing a clum­sy­look­ing cross­over and dated MPV re­spec­tively and to con­sid­er­able ac­claim, as they her­alded a bold and fresh new de­sign lan­guage.

The solid but some­what unin­spir­ing 508 was next in line for a re­vamp and last year Peu­geot’s large fam­ily-cum­busi­ness of­fer­ing was trans­formed from a bog­stan­dard four-door saloon into a sporty five-door ‘fast­back’.

The front end picks up the sharp and mus­cu­lar cues first seen on those well-re­ceived SUV sib­lings while the rak­ish roofline swoops down to LED tail lights which, on higher spec models, do a lit­tle jig when you un­lock the doors, which are coupe-style frame­less af­fairs.

It’s a very easy-on-the-eye ma­chine which has a pur­pose­ful pres­ence.

Peu­geot’s PureTech petrol en­gine tech­nol­ogy has al­ready gar­nered a slew of in­dus­try awards and the tur­bocharged 1.6-litre ver­sion un­der the bon­net of our test car pro­vides the sort of spir­ited per­for­mance that lives up to the sporty styling.

Kick­ing out 225ps and mated to a smooth eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, it will knock off the 0-62mph sprint in 7.3 sec­onds, while a top speed of 155mph is up there with the per­for­mance heavy­weights.

The 508 feels punchy and re­spon­sive with this po­tent driv­e­train, which also emits a sat­is­fy­ing note when you pile on the revs, while a four-mode drive se­lec­tor – which tog­gles through self-ex­plana­tory eco, com­fort, nor­mal and sport set­tings – al­lows the driver to tweak the set-up to suit.

Peu­geot’s cur­rent pref­er­ence for un­der­sized steer­ing wheels en­hances the en­gag­ing na­ture of the drive as does a sportily low driv­ing po­si­tion and the rac­ing-style pad­dle shifters for those who want to over­ride the au­to­matic gear­box.

Steer­ing is quick and ac­cu­rate and han­dling sharp and nim­ble, while the low-slung, road-hug­ging chas­sis en­sures the car stays set­tled and flat when push­ing on along wind­ing ru­ral roads – mak­ing this a de­cent all-round driver’s mo­tor.

A lower-pow­ered ver­sion of the petrol unit we tried and three diesel op­tions com­plete the en­gine line-up, all com­ing with the eight-speed au­to­matic gear­box bar the en­try-level diesel, which gets a six-speed man­ual.

The 508’s in­te­rior, like the ex­te­rior, takes some key de­sign cues from the 3008 and 5008 to cre­ate a stylish and dis­tinc­tive modern driv­ing en­vi­ron­ment with fix­tures and fit­tings fully in keep­ing with the pre­mium ter­ri­tory that Peu­geot now sees it­self in – par­tic­u­larly in the range-top­ping GT trim of our car.

You sit on plush leather up­hol­stery and tac­tile soft­touch sur­faces cover all the key touch points around the cabin, con­trasted with car­bon-fi­bre ef­fect and shiny ve­neered fin­ishes else­where.

The slop­ing roofline means rear head­room is tight for those ap­proach­ing six feet tall but legroom is good, there’s de­cent per­sonal stor­age and, at 487 litres, the boot is per­fectly ca­pa­ble of swal­low­ing a cou­ple of hol­i­day cases or a weekly shop.

At more than £37,000, the price of this flag­ship car is very much in pre­mium ter­ri­tory too. How­ever, you do get a host of crea­ture com­forts and high-tech gad­gets thrown in – many of which would mean a trip to the op­tions list with high-end ri­val brands.

Peu­geot’s touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem still has its quirks but is grad­u­ally be­com­ing more user friendly and the ad­di­tional piano-key con­trols in­cluded here are stylish and func­tional.

The sys­tem fea­tures nav­i­ga­tion, dig­i­tal ra­dio and Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto com­pat­i­bil­ity.

Other kit in­cludes Peu­geot’s i-Cock­pit dig­i­tal driver’s in­stru­ment panel, au­to­matic dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, rearview cam­era, key­less en­try and ig­ni­tion, power ad­justable heated front seats, au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing and lane keep as­sist and blind spot warn­ing sys­tems.

A pre­mium Ger­man badge would not look out of place on the 508 – and for those who can see past the fact that it hasn’t got one, this is a stylish and sporty al­ter­na­tive that’s well-worth tak­ing a look at.

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