Peugeot 508 eHDI: Fab or Fail?

27/6/11 - PEUGEOT 508 - PHOTOS BY: JACK ATLEY/www.jackatley.com 27/6/11 - PEUGEOT 508 - PHOTOS BY: JACK ATLEY/www.jackatley.com 27/6/11 - PEUGEOT 508 - PHOTOS BY: JACK ATLEY/www.jackatley.com 27/6/11 - PEUGEOT 508 - PHOTOS BY: JACK ATLEY/www.jackatley.com 508_1007PC0281508_2010_160_ACC.img508_2010_jfb06227/6/11 - PEUGEOT 508 - PHOTOS BY: JACK ATLEY/www.jackatley.com - FOR PEUGEOT AUSTRALIA 201127/6/11 - PEUGEOT 508 - PHOTOS BY: JACK ATLEY/www.jackatley.com 27/6/11 - PEUGEOT 508 - PHOTOS BY: JACK ATLEY/www.jackatley.com - FOR PEUGEOT AUSTRALIA 201127/6/11 - PEUGEOT 508 - PHOTOS BY: JACK ATLEY/www.jackatley.com - FOR PEUGEOT AUSTRALIA 2011

The good: gorgeous body, classy interior, good equipment level.

The bad: stop/start not smooth,awful  transmission – too slow to change up

You’ll remember we nearly wet ourselves when we tested the gorgeous 508 GT saloon and Allure Wagon a few months ago. We fairly frothed at the mouth at the handling that harkened back to the halcyon days of French car design. The days when a Peugeot felt as at home on a rally track as it did on the Champs Elysees and had the proportions both beautiful and desirable. We may have inadvertently mentioned the design had taken a terrible turn down Dreadful Street stopping at the corner of Ugly Lane. Then came the voluptuous RCZ which transformed Peugeot’s slightly frumpy image overnight.

We drove the 508 GT sedan and Allure wagon a few months ago and fell in love. It’s true that big French cars can be hit and miss. For some reason the tasty 607 never realised its full potential and remained largely unloved. Indeed the 508 replaces the poor 607 as well as the smaller, rather odd looking 407.

The eHDI had much to live up to. Did it come up to the standard of her sisters? The exterior shares the same gracious lines as the other models so the promise builds. There is no evidence of the eHDI being an entry level model but it does miss out on a few of the delicious luxuries, so sadly there is none of the much-loved keyless entry/start which is a terrible shame. You’re stuck with having to get the key out of your bag and pressing a button to unlock the door. The things we do.

Sure, some of the luxury from the range topper is absent, but most of the fixtures and fittings are exactly the same as in the GT so it’s a only bit of leather and the odd gizmo which is not present and accounted for. You would need to be slightly OCD to find any real difference and the same goes for the handling. The GT of course has the double wishbone front end but most of us won’t notice that much of a difference.

Since only the drivetrain is different that’s where we’ll focus our attention. If you’d like to see the test of the GT and Allure click here. So here comes the crunch, I stepped into the eHDI with the engine already running. The girl at Peugeot had warned me that the “auto” would take about 3 seconds to change from 1st to 2nd. “3 Milliseconds surely,” I said. She just looked at me, oh dear.

I left Peugeot’s secret head office vehicle storage location, just off Parramatta Road at Homebush, and set off into the Sydney traffic and for me this is where things gradually started going wrong. As promised, the gear changes were as if an unseen foot had depressed the unseen clutch and an unseen hand had moved the gear lever to a higher cog. Imagine sitting at a set of lights. Because of the stop/start, the engine has switched off and you sit there listening to something tasteful on the audio system. You’re hoping like hell that when you remove your foot from the brake, the engine starts by the time your foot has reached the go pedal. It works but is frightful when you’re trying to sneak into tight parking spots as it can be a bit jumpy.

You move off from the lights but just as you get a little momentum, the power vanishes and all those on-board lurch forward like a minibus full of drunken footballers. When the power returns on a higher cog a few seconds, yes seconds, later, you all lurch backward again. My passengers soon complained about a slight feeling of sea sickness and this continued throughout the week.

The situation improves slightly by using “sport” mode but passengers still look like those dash-doggies from the 70’s. You know the ones with the spring and made the head of the dog bob about like a ping-pong ball on steroids. The only way to reduce this quite bizarre gear change is to lift your foot when you think the gears are going to change which, as you can appreciate, is difficult unless you’re psychic. A manual would illuminate the problem completely.

The whole point of the eHDI is economy. Peugeot want the sales reps in our midst to buy their car instead of a Holden Commodore or Ford Falcom. The claimed fuel 0f 4.4l/100k seemed a bit optimistic. Around town, even with a viper under my right foot, I just couldn’t manage anything like that. The highway was a different kettle of fish and you’d probably get 1700 k’s or more from a full tank of juice. Something amazing for a car this size and comfort and what’s more, the annoying gear changes and stop/start aren’t an issue on the move.

Like the other 508’ the eHDI is fabulously quiet on the highway and the steering is sharp but smooth with a nice amount of weight. This means the road feel gives the car a feel which can only be described as sophisticated. The ride feels much firmer but one wonders if that’s just a fanciful thought.

If the 82kw of the 1.6L diesel sounds a trifle modest, it is. Strangely enough the low gearing in 1st gives the car an unexpectedly frisky feel. The engine I hve no problem with at all.

I’m afraid the eHDI is a fabulous car utterly ruined by a truly awful transmission. This is especially poignant because the auto 508’s are supremely smooth and quite and is where my money would go every time.

Model Active Sedan 1.6L e-HDi EGC Stop Start EGC
Body 5-Door Sedan
Engine 1.6L 4-cyl
EURO Euro 5
Fuel
Type
D
Comb Fuel
Cons.
4.4
CO2 115
Power kW 82 @ 3600
Torque
Nm
270 @ 1750
Gearbox EGC6
Kerb
Weight
1485kg
Drive FWD
Warranty 3-years/100,000kms
EURO-NCAP 5 star

Price: $36,000 (ehdi) – $52,000 for the GT

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