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Peugeot 508 GT HDi 200

Click to view picture galleryGT. Now theres a badge that labels
  you like no other. And now the top
  gun in Peugeot
s new 508 range
  is wearing one. Is it the French
s answer to the Audi A4,
  BMW 3 Series and Merc C-Class?
  Does it need to be?

THE 508 GT GETS OFF to a flying start with its looks
they're more prestige than executive. 'Stand-out' is no exaggeration: our test car was finished in a striking pearlescent white a colour that perfectly accentuates the purposeful black and chrome-edged grille; and, at the tail, the 'ripped' LED tail light lenses, and the pair of chromed lateral tailpipes.

The coupe-ish saloon glasshouse, slinky metallic titanium 19-inch alloys nestled within clean-cut wheelarches and a high waistline, all underscore the 508's crisp lines —
lines uncontaminated by aerials or screen washer jets. Unlike most cars, the 508 is attractive from every angle. Strip off the Peugeot lion from the nose and the bootlid and it could have come from any one of the major German design houses.

“As befits its range-
topping status in the 508
pecking order, the GT
runs a 204bhp 2.2-litre
turbodiesel —
press the Start button
and there
s barely a
As befits its range-topping status in the 508 pecking order, the GT runs a 204bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel. Power is laid down through the front wheels. A six-speed autobox is standard and has the added advantage of manual gearshifts made via steering wheel paddles (you can still, should you prefer, use the selector lever: back for up and forward for down the ratios).

Accessing the 508 GT's power is easy. Buckle up, press the Start button on the fascia and… there's barely a murmur —
the mechanical stirring of the turbocharged 204bhp 2.2-litre HDi diesel is a faraway sound for anyody sitting inside the cabin.

Press down on the accelerator and the muscular torque ensures the 508 nose forward effortlessly, the six-speed autobox serving up fluid upshifts as the mph figure on the head-up display above the instrument pack posts ever-increasing double-digits.

At 62mph you've been accelerating for 8.2 seconds. Keep your right foot planted and, on the right road, the escalating figures won't stop until they reach 145. Quick enough!

Left to its own devices in Drive the GT handles 'the cruise' effortlessly —
the same way it takes the stress out of driving in heavy stop-start traffic. A winter mode is available for our annual icy spell. Select Sport mode and the 'box is ever-keen to drop a gear to make best use of the turbodiesel's 331lb ft of torque; shift speeds are made 200 milliseconds faster — but just as seamlessly — than in Drive.

Drivers with control issues can relax —
paddles on the steering wheel (a nicely flat-bottomed item, by the way) means you can take personal control of the gearchanging at any time, even in Drive. If you're a traditionalist 'stick-shifter' at heart, no problem — use the gear selector for fast sequential changes up and down the range: a light nudge forward takes you down the six ratios; the same but rearward flicks you up the gears. And s well as feeling satisfyingly rapid, it keeps you in touch with the torquey turbodiesel.

The 508's presence encourages one to think of it as a bigger car than it actually is. One that must, therefore, be pretty heavy. In fact, its 4.8-metre length comes with an athletic kerb weight of 1,736kg.

Combined with optimized aerodynamics that are among the best in class, it makes the official combined fuel consumption figure of 49.5mpg quite likely attainable in the real world.

“Point the GT’s nose
down a twisty B-road,
make good use
of the paddle-shifters,
and you’ll find
s rewardingly
keen, its front-end
faithfully leading
the charge as it flows
through a series
of bends
Our week with the 508 GT took in a comprehensive mix of roads and traffic conditions and, as usual, we didn't spare the horses — yet we still recorded an average 42.3mpg. More laid-back pilots should get much closer to that magic 50mpg mark. For the record, the official consumption for urban and extra-urban driving is, respectively, 35.3 and 64.1mpg.

A good GT is like a decent G&T: it has the right mix of 'Get up and go' and 'Touring ability'. The 508 GT has the necessary 'Go' all right — but is there sufficient tonic to its Touring side? Yes. Absolutely.

Unlike the rest of the 508 range, the GT comes with a double-wishbone front suspension rather than the conventional McPherson struts fitted to all of its kin. And Yes, it makes a difference.

Point the GT's nose down a twisty B-road, make good use the paddle-shifters, and you'll find it's rewardingly keen, its front-end faithfully leading the charge as it flows through a series of bends. It helps, too, that the GT is an easy car to place, as does the fact that it's predicable, with strong grip from the 235/40 19-inch Continental tyres.

Reassuring, too, are the powerful and progressive brakes that can bring you to a stop with complete smoothness. In truth, the 508 GT's ride/handling combo beats that of many of its rivals.

What's even better is that the GT manages to serve up entertaining driving while keeping its composure —
a composure that keeps the passengers relaxed as much as it keeps the driver engaged. Although the optional 19-inch wheels obviously make the ride a tad firmer than the standard 18-inchers, the GT still provides a compliant ride. There's no badge engineering with this 508 — it wears its GT insignia with pride.

As you'd expect of a true GT, its cabin is rather special. In fact, the GT's got the lot, starting with 'Open and Go' keyless entry and start. Pull open the driver's door and you could be about to climb into an Audi — it's that good.

Not only are the cabin architecture and ergonomics stylish (high gloss black and tasteful chrome touches), but the build quality, fit and finish and quality of the GT's fixtures and fittings is unmistakably up-market.

The shapely chairs are upholstered in soft, smooth black Nappa leather and are as comfortable and supportive as they look. You'll fnd plenty of room above your head and between you and your front passenger (above the wide centre armrest); and there's masses of leg and foot room plus a comfy rest for your left foot for when the cruise control is active.

“As usual, we didn’t
spare the horses — yet
we still recorded
an average 42.3mpg.
More laid-back pilots
should get much
closer to the 50mpg
Both sportily-bolstered front seats are power operated; and both are heated (three-stage). The driver gets a two-setting memory for his or her personalised seat position and can also enjoy a gentle lumbar massage — that's in addition to the power-adjustable lumbar support.

And to be sure you're sitting pretty, the front headrest is easily moved up or down by pressing the button on the side; the angle of the cushion behind your head is also easily altered.

A good-to-grip flat-bottomed leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel (with plenty of adjustment for reach and height) carries built-in 'remote' switches for just about everything important.

The SatNav displays in crystal-clear 3D, while the equally sharp head-up display ensures minimal distraction when checking your speed on the move. Along with your road speed, it can also display cruise control/speed limiter speeds as well as navigation instructions. The five dials (rev-counter, oil temp, fuel, coolant temp, and analogue speedometer) are all smart-lookers and, if you're carrying children in the back, you'll be sure to appreciate the remote child lock switch up front.

Controls and switchgear all have a high quality feel and precise operation. Adding to the prestige ambience is the hush inside the cabin when travelling; noise, be it from the engine, the wind or the road, is kept out. Another nice touch is the large vanity mirrors —
like policemen, generally these days they seem to be getting smaller.

Not so the GT's —
they're big enough to see yourself in, and very well lit. Also usefully big are the door pockets; each with a total volume of 4 litres and shaped to hold a 1.5-litre bottle. In all there's around 22 litres of storage space and 'hideaways' to keep the GT's cabin tidy.

To say that the GT comes generously equipped is something of an understatement. Standard kit includes Keyless entry, Start and locking, Peugeot Connect Navigation with a 7-inch screen, MP3-compatible CD player, Bluetooth and connections for any type of digital audio devices, colour head-up display, power-adjustable heated seats, Nappa leather, cruise control with speed limiter, dual-zone automatic A/C (and very efficient it is too), powerfold door mirrors (on demand and on locking and leaving), rear parking aid, auto dimming rear-view mirror, four one-shot electric windows, ambient cabin lighting, automatic electric parking brake, auto lights 'n' wipes, tyre pressure monitoring, bi-Xenon directional headlamps with Smartbeam Assistance (automatically switches between dipped and main beam according to traffic), and LED daytime running lights.

“What’s even better is
that the GT manages to
serve up entertaining
driving while keeping its
composure — a
composure that keeps
the passengers relaxed
as much as it keeps the
driver engaged
Safety-wise the GT also has it covered, with the latest generation Electronic Stability Programme and Traction Control, Hill Assist, front, side-front and curtain airbags, Peugeot Connect SOS (for pinpointing the car's exact location in the event of an emergency to enable rapid intervention by the emergency services), and a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating.

It's a big cabin and front space is liberal, and in the time-honoured French tradition of equality and fraternity, it's equally accommodating in the back —even for six-footers. Rear seat passengers (optimally two, but three if you can get the rear pair to give up their shared twin-cupholder centre armrest) have ample head, leg, and foot room and can recline back at a restful angle.

If you're planning on some serious touring, there's more than enough space for your luggage in the boot: 545 litres with the rear seats in use; 1,581 litres with them folded flat. The 508's 2/3:1/3 split rear seatbacks fold virtually flat, allowing large, lengthy items up to 6' 3" to be carried.

Opening the boot can be by a button in the cabin, plipping the remote or by pressing the '0' in the '508' badging on the bootlid. The lid springs up without assisance and parks vertically, making loading and unloading easy and with no risk of banging your head. A good-sized load-through hatch adds extra versatility.

This comfortable French fancy is a valid alternative to an Audi A4, BMW 3 Series or C-class Mercedes-Benz and will give you and your passengers a premium driving experience. Factor in its assured mile-covering capabilities, comprehensive spec, fuel-frugal and refined 2.2-litre turbodiesel, well-judged handling and ride dynamics plus its debonair looks, and it's quite clear that this new GT's credibility is right up there with the best of them. —

Peugeot 508 GT HDi 200 | £29,050
Maximum speed: 145mph | 0-62mph: 8.2 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 42.3mpg
Power: 204bhp | Torque: 331lb ft | CO2 150g/km