If the 508 had a rest last month, it’s certainly made up for it of late. What with a busy summer of work trips and weekends away, I seem to have piled miles on to our French fastback. But the main reason for the car’s mounting mileage was a trip back to its homeland. With the promise of warm weather, wine and… umm… more wine, we chucked a few bags into the boot and caught a ferry to Calais, before setting course for a château (and accompanying vineyards) on the Loire.
Somehow, the 508 fitted in perfectly on that side of the channel. I’d never seen the car’s futuristic looks as particularly Gallic, but there was something about seeing it parked in front of a 15th Century castle that just worked. Despite the juxtaposition of old and new, it looked right at home. Some smart cars rolled up outside the doors, including a Swiss-registered Alpina B7 and a French-registered Mercedes-Benz, but nothing in the crunchy gravel car park could outshine the fly-spattered Peugeot.
And it wasn’t just the looks that made the Pug fit in; its siblings were out in force, too. On this side of the channel, I’ve only ever seen one new-shape 508 Fastback that wasn’t driven by a fellow motoring writer, but there were far more on the French motorways. Most were, admittedly, the base models that French motorists seem to prefer, but they were 508s nonetheless.
Cruising along the autoroutes revealed why the 508 is so popular over there. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that Peugeot seems to have tuned the car’s ride and powertrain to the conditions prevalent in its home nation, but few mainstream cars have been such competent companions for a long trip on the continent. The engine was relatively efficient, despite the higher speed limits, and while French motorways are always as smooth as George Clooney’s pick-up lines, the 508’s springs made light work of the notoriously knobbly back roads, too.
However, the hot weather revealed a weakness in the 508’s equipment list. The combination of black leather and bright sunshine turned the car into a sort of four-wheeled oven, and although the climate control did a sterling job of cooling us down, ventilated seats would have alleviated a lot of discomfort.
Then there was the boot. Peugeot has recently brought out an estate version of the 508, but unless you’re planning endless trips to the tip, you probably don’t need it. The Fastback’s boot is deceptively cavernous, and about a dozen boxes of wine simply vanished under a deluge of suitcases and enormous strings of garlic (don’t ask). As a road trip machine, then, the 508 has a lot going for it. Unfortunately, however, returning to Blighty – the land of decent radio stations – revealed our soiree to France had done nothing for the radio’s nasty habit of dropping out at every opportunity. I sense a trip to a Peugeot dealer coming on.
Date arrived 3rd April 2019
Fuel economy WLTP combined 45.2-51.1mpg On Test 49.9mpg
Ventilated centre console cubby is perfect for carrying smelly cheese on hot days.
Black leather, warm weather and no seat ventilation – it’s a recipe for discomfort.