Napoleon Bonaparte, George Clemenceau, Charles de Gaulle… and now France has one other embodiment of the Gallic character – Jean-Phillipe Imperato, director common of the Peugeot automobile model, and a person so French in manner he must be designated a nationwide monument (and evaded the gilets jaunes).
Up he pops for us on video hyperlink on the Worldwide launch of the Peugeot 508 SW property automobile.
He’s not your common type of business govt, Jean-Phillipe. Even in two-dimensional format right here now we have a three-dimensional persona. He shrugs; he gesticulates; he speaks Franglais. He’s an important salesman for his vehicles. If solely all automobile bosses have been like this.
The 508 SW (for Station Wagon) is to be a “blockbuster”, “wow” everybody and be “attractive” with it, says Jean-Phillipe.
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Blockbuster: Oui ou non?
I’m unsure it’ll be a blockbuster, which is somewhat completely different to saying whether or not it deserves to be, or not. It’s in a troublesome and declining a part of the market – no fault of its personal
The 508 SW joins the fastback-style saloon which arrived just a few months in the past, and it has been duly shortlisted for the distinguished European Automotive of the Yr award. There’s case to be made for it, although it’s up towards some spectacular and revolutionary competitors (Jaguar I-Tempo, new Ford Focus, Citroen C5 Aircross SUV). As with the proposition it makes to the potential buyer, its case rests on the re-assertion of an older custom; briefly the property automobile as riposte to the more and more ubiquitous SUV and SUV crossovers, a lot in vogue now.
And they also have completed their finest to make their Peugeot 508 SW the epitome of the type of bourgeois values Peugeot, and the property fashion for that matter, used to embody. This time spherical, they’ve added some sportiness. The brand new automobile is decrease and sleeker than its predecessors and many of the competitors. The “iCockpit” “design with a comparatively excessive up instrument panel and lower-mounted steering wheel is meant so as to add a level of sportiness, if not pleasure and sexiness to the trend.
Even the humblest of the vary of six energy models (three diesels and three petrol) could make the automobile transfer respectably, and the suspension is a fantastic compromise between journey and dealing with – each glorious. The 130 horsepower diesel does make a little bit of a noise when pushed exhausting in “sport” mode, as a result of the 8-speed computerized field (correct torque converter) merely refuses to let go of the gears, however that’s about as unhealthy because it will get. The highly effective 225 horsepower petrol one is probably the most refined and easy models you’ll discover this aspect of a Lexus.
So it seems to be and feels sporty for an property, the cabin design being meant to really feel cosy for the driving force and so they’ve striven to make it elegant too. On the higher trim ranges, particularly “GT-line”, you discover loads of soft leather-based, smooth really feel plastics and strikingly tasteful wooden veneers, the latter used for the cabin and for the boot ground (and the veneers are fitted to all of the vary).
The 508 is a heat and welcoming feel-good setting, much less conservative than many of the Germans and with a bit of extra élan than you discover within the equivalents from Hyundai or Ford, say. On the entire, the producers on this mainstream sector, and certainly a number of the premium manufacturers too, are inclined to supply their inside trims from the identical kinds of locations; there aren’t many individuals who make wooden veneers for motors vehicles, in any case.
Peugeot’s newest instalment in its renaissance goes and stops fantastic, and even on the very best profile/thinnest tyres the 508, with its lengthy wheelbase and softish suspension, feels exceptionally snug, and able to carrying you coast to coast.
The corporate eccentrically suggests it’ll promote nicely to surfers. In actuality it’s extra probably for use for lugging youngsters, canines and business wares round, however irrespective of. It does the job successfully sufficient – the boot will take 530 litres of clobber, and a complete of 1,780 litres with rear seats folded (they virtually go flat, however not fairly). That’s across the identical because the Volvo V60 and Volkswagen Passat property (which the 508 is explicitly benchmarked towards), and extra capacious than rivals from Ford, Mazda, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz; however the Skoda Very good wagon nonetheless wins the house race.
By no means thoughts about all that, although – when was the final time you truly noticed an property stuffed to the gunnels? The true drawback for the 508 SW is that this development, seemingly unstoppable, for premium manufacturers (which implies the three well-known German ones) and in the direction of these pesky SUVs. Peugeot itself, and its sister marques Citroen and DS have, after some years of disdain, embraced the trigger with the zeal of the convert. Truthful sufficient, and the 3008 and 5008 are strong propositions attracting clients that may in any other case be misplaced to the corporate. However Peugeot have to be clever to place down some type of hedge towards what occurs when the SUV falls out of favour. That has occurred earlier than – across the time of the final monetary disaster, when a mixture of excessive gasoline costs, revulsion towards capitalist excesses and environmental issues pushed Hummers off the roads and Land-Rover virtually out of enterprise. After that got here the hatch/SUV “hybrids” or crossovers led by the Nissan Qashqai. Now we’re seeing heavier, taller, greater SUVs again within the showrooms and overcrowding the roads.
It’s now half a century and three a long time respectively for the reason that 508’s ancestors the 504 and 405 – conventional saloons/estates of the old-fashioned – received the European Automotive of the Yr trophy for the model. They did so by being the very best of their area, and providing a particular je ne sais quoi high quality. The 508 is far the closest factor Peugeot have come to such an achievement in recent times. It deserves to do nicely, each within the part and the market. A diesel/electrical hybrid arrives subsequent yr, however – its one nice flaw – there’ll be no pure electrical model.