Re-Imagine All The Legionaries In The Dreeping Forest

Peugeot’s number system collapsed with the addition of a second zero. The repetition of a model designation is an aftershock.

2018 Peugeot 508: ANE

With this new saloon we find the 508 nameplate, hardly hallowed, having a second shot on the bootlid of their newest saloon. It is here by the grace of the market outside the EU.  We get this car only because the Chinese want to buy saloons more than Europeans do.

In Europe the middle market saloon trade declines and inevitably the 508 is going to fight with its sister car, the Opel Insignia. I imagine authors at the main automotive periodicals are planning their head-to-head tests at this very moment. I feel that regardless of their verdict these cars’ fates are predestined. The Insignia has a larger market of existing customers and the old 508 saw almost continuous decline. It will be a fight for PSA to keep those customers.

Never mind what it’s like to drive, how does it look? The press have noted its fastback shape and that makes this 508 a hatchback, a format Peugeot has eschewed for their large cars ever since its very founding. As rooflines have become longer they have eaten into the boot’s real estate and it no longer makes sense to try to make a saloon – as Peugeot admitted, the aperture would be too small. Tell that to Honda who are selling a saloon version of the thing they call a Civic. The Mondeo and Insignia also have five-doors.

2018 Honda Civic

The front of the 508 has a novel approach to the treatment of the running lights. These look like fangs dangling down from the headlamps. The main achievement of this is to avoid what is becoming a cliché in the little world of front-clips, the over-wrought fog-lamp aperture e.g.

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The chess-board grille adds a bit of textural interest and glitter – grille patterns are another area of febrile development at present. This one is calm enough while dodging the standard mode, slats.

At the side we behold a sober overall look but more than a little cheating is going on behind the rear quarterlight: a crinkled panel intended to make the side glass seem longer than it really is. It is not as egregious as the current Insignia; but it’s just over the limit of being acceptable as an accent of the DLO frame.

The image of the side masks somewhat a mid-height arrow-like feature line heading from the rear lamp forward and then turning back and down between the mirror and rather low door handles. Have you noticed they are nearer the ground than you might expect. Speaking of DLOs, will this car have a chrome frame as an option?

In this view those fangs can be seen to do another job: hide the length of the front overhang. Behind them is another feature, with a vertical character. This is designed so as to make the optical corner look further back than it really is.

2018 Peugeot 508: ANE

And around the rear:

2018 Peugeot 508: ANE

The rear may possibly be the most satisfying aspect. It is a dramatic improvement over the outgoing car which had a sad droop due to the way the rear lamps were orientated. If the rear clip is not smaller than the old car, it looks it and I hope the highlights can flow better across the bumper-to-body panel gap.

2011 Peugeot 508 and is solipsistic chrome garnish.  Why is the panel gap below it not trimmed?

The new car’s sculpting and graphics express width (which is something the Passat also aims at, as does the Insignia). It is a neater, more tailored car from the rear whereas the previous car looks bloated. The way the shutline relates to the rear lamp cut-out is borrowed from Jaguar and Volvo and is altogether less expedient.

Oh dear, that cheater panel:

I shall await with interest a chance to see the car in the metal. That might be a little while as sales are frankly expected to be modest, especially in comparison to the 406 which quickly became part of the street furniture and still is. “Output is expected to peak in 2019 at 96,300 units, with 83,000 made in Europe and the rest in China”, declares ANE.

In comparison, PSA sold about 131,650 of the previous generation 508s in 2011, with 115,000 in Europe and the rest in China,” writes ANE. Tellingly, Peugeot sold a total 107,633 of 406 coupés. If anyone has sales totals for the 406 and 407 it would be interesting to see them.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

15 thoughts on “Re-Imagine All The Legionaries In The Dreeping Forest”

  1. In my opinion a fantastic looking car. I did not expect a large practical tailgate, frameless windows of the doors, the nice sculptured bonnet (so you can´t see the joint of it so much) and such a reduced car height and length. Well done!
    The interior would be more interesting for me if it would be more different to the interior of the 3008. But that will be no obstacle for the success of this car. I hope to see many of them on our roads…

    1. A lot of people seem to like it. Why am I so reserved? It is because the last 508 looked like a good proposal for the market and turned out to be marred by various characteristics only apparent in the metal.
      Do you think that if the the mainstream makers want to try to sell cars in this sector that even more design daring is called for?

  2. Is it an Insignia? A Passat? A Mondeo? I’m past caring.
    That front grille texture is already used by MB, and I thought then it was a refugee from some other niche environment — bee-keeping, loft-dweller’s interior, freestanding electric heater?

    They’ll sell the usual small number by French status-seekers. But they won’t get much rear headroom — less of a problem in China.
    But if you must buy luxury French, that just leaves the Citroën.

    1. The front grille texture is Mercedes-premium-style or Fiat-Tipo-lowcost-look. Choose your comparison.
      Headroom will be ok, i hope. But i am afraid you will knock your head when entering the rear seats. If this is important, you will have to wait for the shooting brake or the longer DS8.
      I think, the new 508 is perfect for Europe, but too small for China…

    2. Markus: yes, the grille is a bit Fiat saloon. Rear headroom is more of a theoretical problem though. How many people ever sit in the back of a saloon? As long as it´s comfortable when you get there. And that is the problem with the Espace. I think it looks properly impressive in a modern way. The seating and ambience though are so cold and hard. I would not want to spend much time in such an interior. I showed the Honda Urban concept interior the other day – that looked more alluring. I´d love to see the market research that says people want hard, cold interiors.

    3. The French have two or three kids, and half the cars I see have at least one Isofix seat permanently attached. So rear access and seating are pretty important. Now the Chinese are having more children, it will matter to them too.

    4. Vic: some families want an MPV when the kids are small. I think families with older children will find this car acceptable. I find the S-Max and Zafira might be even better. I like saloons – the more I think about it the more pointless they seem.

    5. Yes about the MPVs. But, like you, I like saloons, for more than their better luggage security (I sometimes lug valuable computer/big camera kit etc).
      Drove a Zafira 10 years ago; very carlike, but luggage needs strapping down well. My Kappa SW had that (and so much else) well-sorted.

      Clutches and gear-changing have improved enormously since, so not even mentioned in most road tests now.

    6. Evidently a lot of people don´t seem to find security such a problem that they need a lockable metal box at the back of the car. Have gearchanges improved so much? I still think it´s hit and miss in the cars I drive. I drove a Zafira about four years ago and had no trouble with the luggage. That was a nice vehicle – I can still remember the smooth ride and space-ship ambience.

  3. The rear looks like a modern day Toyota Camry XV20.
    When Peugeot still dared to build cars with a whiff of garlic they sold 1.3M 404s, 3,7M 504s and even an astonishing 1.35M 505s.
    Something must have gone terribly wrong since then (and my guess is that the separation from Pininfarina is not a small part of the problem.

  4. Amazingly, our neighbour now has one parked outside. I assume he has a Peugeot bigwig friend. It’s insured to April 2019. (His own main car is a 3008 crate.)
    The new 508 doesn’t look so good in silver: the red would be better.
    But it’s actually nice in the metal.
    They’re not saloons, but fastback hatchbacks.

    Not as exciting as yesterday, when I caught an F Pace and a Lybra 2.4JTD saloon. This was in the best colour to stop the rear light clip from looking so cheap: a lively maroon, which in old BMC money is Damask Red. Not a local car; school hols here and they move around all over the place.

  5. According to Wikipedia, the 407 sold 861,000 units during its 7-year lifetime. European sales figures are here:

    It looks as though sales fell away significantly after 4 years of having sold more than 100,000 cars per year.

    Figures for the 406 are harder to find – the only reference I can find is this:

    I think that the article refers to UK figures. The 406 sold well enough in its day, but can’t hope to match the 405’s 4.6 million units (and counting).

    By comparison, Škoda’s Superb has recently sold 80,000 units annually in Europe, so I’d say that expectations for the 508 are reasonable, even given current preferences for SUVs. I wish them well and, as others have said, it’s nice to see some attractive new models coming to market (S90, i-Pace, forthcoming Honda, etc).

  6. To be fair, regarding the stagnating with the 08 numbers, it was well known since the 308 II that Peugeot wouldn’t move up to the 09, or anything else, designation. At the time of the 308 I being replaced the rumour was that the memory of the 309 of the 1980’s was still too fresh in people’s mind and because the 309 has always been regarded as un ugly duckling and not a real Peugeot (Talbot car originally) it wouldn’t help the career of the new 308 to be associated with the shameful ancestor. Personally I think if they made a really good C-segment contender people wouldn’t care if it’s called 309, especially if the rest of the range logically followed suit with 09 numbers too. They totally dropped the idea of 2 ranges of Peugeots, one with the 01 designation and a low-cost approach (the 301) and one with the 08 designation catering to a more discerning clientèle. The same approach was explored for Citroen at the time with, on one side, a range of low cost cars badged I.D and a parrallel range of more “haut de gamme” offerings badged….D.S. Not quite sure why this concept of dual ranges for each marques was never implemented. Maybe that was for the better. I still think it’s probably only a pause in the naming system and, one day, we will get the 309 we deserve 😀

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