Peugeot counts on China and Europe to help its new 508 large car be a success

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 27, 2011

Peugeot S.A. is relying on China and the rising demand for station wagons in Europe to help its new 508 large car be a success. European buyers in the last 10 years have steered clear of large cars made by volume brands in favor of premium sedans, wagons and SUVs from Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz as well as SUV-styled crossovers with a high riding position from mass-market and luxury carmakers.

Peugeot expects half of 508 sales to come from the station wagon variant, with three quarters of the volume coming from fleet sales to business customers. The 508 replaces two slow-selling Peugeot cars: the 407 mid-sized car and the 607 large sedan.

Laurent Blanchet, Peugeot’s director for upper-segment models said that the segment has consolidated and may grow again on increased demand for wagons. German cars like the Volkswagen Passat have dominated the mid-sized segment. In developing the 508, Peugeot benchmarked German premium brands for quality.

Blanchet said the brand studied German dealers and customers to analyze their demands. They found out that there was a demand for improved seating comfort and better quality that improves the car's resale value.

Peugeot also focused on ways to improve fuel economy for the 508. The 508, despite being 100mm longer than the 407, weighs from 35kg to 40kg less, depending on equipment and body style. The 508 is equipped with French supplier Valeo's second-generation stop-start technology that features lower operating temperatures and early engine stoppage at speeds of under 8kph.

The new Peugeot 508 features a design influenced by the unrelenting hunt for elegant contours. This is why the contours on the Saloon and SW are free-flowing – lacking any break or interruption -- from the end of the bonnet to the boot. In fact, all surfaces are deficient of flashy elements or add-ons like windscreen wiper jets and visible aerials. Moreover, all surfaces are flush-fitted as clearances between elements have been precisely determined to achieve optimal build quality.

As a result, the new Peugeot 508 seems like a vehicle "sculpted from a solid." The front end of the Peugeot 508 is a testament to Peugeot’s stylistic codes, as the vehicle successfully reinterprets them to realize the ideas present on the marque’s most recent concept cars like the SR1.

Peugeot’s new visual signature now indicates the power, sophistication and refinement of the vehicle that dons it. Specifically, the very front end of the vehicle’s aluminum bonnet -- at the lead of the bonnet contour -- is marked by the new Lion identity. Moreover, the front end is marked by single front grille rendered in a "floating" style. This detached impression is a result of the chrome edging that is less pronounced under the "nose" of the bonnet, thereby revealing the "Peugeot" branding.

Accentuating the fascia of the Peugeot 508 are aggressive headlamps that feature chromium plated and frosted surfaces inside. It also comes with directional bi-Xenon headlamps that feature visible "LED lighting tubes," each of which has seven electroluminescent diodes. This lighting configuration provides the Peugeot 508 with a distinct visual signature that is visible both during the day and during the night.

Customers may also avail of halogen headlamps that feature a new high-performance and compact "Neo" technology. These headlamps feature a series of lenses resembling a cat's eyes. While the sides of the Peugeot 508 are understated, they are enhanced by the contours of the chrome-edged windows. Thus, the side windows seem to be resting on a sculpted body section while a recessed waistline flows across the entire length of the 508.

The SW version features a simple yet dynamic profile. Some of its angles are suggestive of a "shooting break" as they drop to the rear. The car’s 1.62 sqm panoramic glass roof blends seamlessly with the front windscreen thanks to the profiled aluminum roof bars that appear to merge with the body. On the other hand, the saloon version comes with a rear end designed in one form, with the boot flushing with the bumper -- and the two lateral exhaust nozzles on the "GT" version – conveying fluidity and power as well as control.

In addition, the rear end features a horizontal chrome bead located parallel to the chrome edging at the base of the diffuser. Both body shapes feature Peugeot’s visual character. For instance, the saloon version features three red clusters that mask three rows of six LEDs, giving the 508 a distinct night-time characteristic. Meanwhile, the SW version features a red band that lights up when the rear lights are activated.

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