Most of us would remember Peugeot’s (it is by the way pronounced as (Per – zow) or even Paa – Zo) first entry in India as the Peugeot 307. The two lion on two legs logo would forever be etched in many minds considering that the 309 was an iconic vehicle of its time in India. But then Peugeot suddenly vanished from India and no one has heard of them since. It was only in late 2010 that one could actually hear of the French manufacturer retrying to enter India. Finally, this month, it was confirmed that the company is finally ready to enter India on its own and is also setting up facilities, the first one being in Tamil Nadu. And if estimates are correct, Peugeot would be pumping in cash reserves close to Rs 4000 crore for this project. Their very first entry would be the Peugeot 508 in India and it is expected to be by early 2012 or late 2011. All depends on how fast the plant shapes up and how soon the company would be able to pull through its dealer and service network. We have given a few insights on what to expect from the Peugeot 508 in India here.
Peugeot can be called as a French manufacturer, however, they derive their inspiration from their neighboring country, Germany. And the manufacturer that they have chosen as their inspiration is Audi. It is clearly visible from the design cues that the Peugeot 508 highly is inspired from Audi’s middleweight, the Audi A6. The grille is similar to what one would see on Audi cars, however, the headlamps beg to differ. They have this flowery setup of LEDs inside that this car would be immediately recognizable from a distance as a Peugeot. The fog lamps are also unlike what we have seen in India till now. The side profile neither seems boxy or is coupeish like. It is exactly what one would want from their car. It choice of 17 and 18 inch wheels coupled with a great alloy design would certainly be a head turner for many. The rear profile is a tad boxy, however, the twin tail pipes and the swooping tail lamps with LED inserts definitely are worth the deal. There is a thin chrome strip running on the boot lid and it is a known fact that we Indians love chrome.
Open the wide opening doors and inside the cabin, one can definitely say that the interiors are very much inspired from Audi. The use of materials and most of all the MMI system is definitely Audi copied. Not a bad thing since the Peugeot would be competing against the likes of Honda Accord, Skoda Superb and VW Passat. The general layout, if one is familiar with Audi cars, wouldn’t be confusing and everything seems logically laid out. Just like the MMI system, there is a controller for the different settings as also infotainment system. The steering wheel would be a 3 piece unit and unlike Renault, the steering mounted controls for the audio and Bluetooth wouldn’t be on a stalk behind the steering wheel but on the sides of the steering wheel. A special thing about the Peugeot 508 is that it would have a headsup display which wouldn’t be projected on the windscreen but instead would be projected on a special polycarbonate panel which is translucent in nature. Space is just right for this class and the backseat passengers would have a gala time. However, like the others in its class, there would be perfect seating for only two and the third passenger may be inconvenienced with the middle row hump. The boot space would also be at par with its competition. The 508 is also available without a sunroof, so its still not clear if Peugeot will offer this in India or not. A 4 zone automatic climate control would also be present in this car for the convenience of passengers.
The earlier Peugeot 118Ne in India was a joy to drive and it is estimated that the 508 would also be similar in characteristics with an improved trait for handling. Peugeot’s P3 platform forms the basis of the new 508, however, it uses MacPherson struts for the front suspension, which is a far departure from the double wishbones that this platform prefers. This is evident to have some cost cutting and also the added weight factor gets reduced. A magnesium cross-beam behind the fascia and also an aluminium bonnet help in keeping the weight low. The ride quality is in the same league as the Skoda Superb and wouldn’t be as pliant as the Camry’s. For the handling front, the car would be a bit like the Accord in its behavior. The steering wheel would however be a weighted unit even at parking speeds. However, most of the prospective owners would be chauffer driven and this would hardly be a matter of concern for them. As far as NVH goes, Peugeot engines are not the most silent ones around but then in the 508, there is ample of sound deadening material that the NVH matter has been taken care of. Moreover, the engineers in the company have tuned the vibrations and accordingly setup the car’s NVH characteristics.
Peugeot would most likely present the 508 in India with a diesel engine and the diesel engine would be a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder turbocharged one producing 163 Bhp of power and 255 Nm of torque. An Aisin gearbox featuring a 6 speed auto transmission would be standard on the 508. A 1.6 liter turbocharged petrol motor is also available and it would have a peak output of 200 Bhp and 223 Nm of torque. The same 6 speed auto transmission would be present even on this motor and paddle shifts would also be provided. Performance is not so strong as the 160 Bhp TSI motor of the Superb but it would nevertheless have a better top end. Details about the motors to be used is still a sketchy thing and more details would surface once Peugeot throws light about the car’s launch in here. The localization limit would also decide if Peugeot could be able to throw in some more goodies at an affordable pricing.
The 508 would have safety features galore with even Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Electronic Stability Program (ESP), ABS and also Laser Guidance. 6 airbags would be standard fare. As far as fuel efficiency goes, the 508 tops the list of aspirational cars in Europe and this should be saying something about its fuel efficiency. However, no figures have been yet put into perspective. The Peugeot 508 price in India should ideally start from the Rs 20 lakhs mark. At this price, Peugeot can be assured of a safe entry mark back into the Indian car market. Moreover, Peugeot would have to build up a good dealer and service network rapidly. The Indian car buyers would definitely want exclusivity but it wouldn’t be at the cost of sacrificing practicality. We are a demanding nation Peugeot and we are sure that you know about it from your previous stint here.