Peugeot 508 reigns supreme in saloon range
THE big winner from the recession is the Peugeot 508.
Okay, so 'winner' may not seem an appropriate term for anything other than catastrophic times, but let me explain.
Somewhere along the boom we became a little bit like Kerry footballers -- we lost our way and were aliens in a land we thought we knew.
We were no longer happy with stylish and sleek, we were blurred by the badge.
Like a drunken Father Jack we belched: 'BMW, Audi, Mercedes ... girls' every time someone waved the keys of a car at us.
Some of the more modest but equally stylish cars got lost in the blur.
The brilliant Honda Accord, the VW Passat and the Peugeot 407 were merely dismissed as also rans along side their over-priced big brothers.
Okay, they were essentially better cars, but were they 30 grand better?
Now that we are stuck somewhere between B***ered and Armageddon we have suddenly got our vision back and the view isn't all that bad.
And that is good news for the cars which have spent such an emphasis on style but don't cost the earth to buy.
The 508 is one such car.
For the absolute car snob, take away the badge and take a step back.
There are few cars on the road today that look better than the 508.
This, I am told, is down to the masterful design talents of Gilles Vidal, the man brought in to make Peugeot more ballsy.
Lots of curves and rounded glass give this car the sleekest of appearances and I suggest renewing Monsieur Vidal's contract immediately.
It is kind of Lexus, kind of Saab, and could even pass for a BMW -- but it is all man.
It has a look and arrogance of any of the big boys, and the glory of it all is the performance.
The 508 is a calming beauty behind the wheel and enjoys a delicious, yet simple two-dial dash, with little by way of frills except in the form of the pesky push-button parking brake -- why can I never know when to press and when to depress.
The size of the cabin is impressive, both up front and for the rear passenger, making this a perfect executive-cum family carrier.
Boot space is absolutely huge and there was more than wriggle room after she was loaded with two sets of golf clubs.
Performance was unbelievable considering I was riding the mere 1.6 litre 112bhp version -- I have been promised the 2.0 litre version which comes with the added grunt of 140bhp, and I look forward to that. A top of the range automatic 163bhp diesel is also available.
The hugely impressive looking Peugeot 508 starts at €24,850.