When it comes to pure, petrol soaked hot hatches, the French seem to be on a roll. Renault have a lineage dating back over 40 years with shining stars such as the Renault 5 and Clio V6. As does Peugeot, with possibly the best of the niche, the 205 GTI, dated and stamped within their history books.
These days the market is saturated with high-powered hatches with bloated figures and drivetrain layouts different to the classic front-engined, front wheel-driven layout of yesteryear. And this is fine and dandy if you want to brag about high numbers at the pub and face-off against high end sports cars. But if you’d rather be on the road, pushing your car to ten tenths, then you’ll more than likely be looking at something French. And as Citroen have all but given up anything close to performance orientated, you’ll be looking at Renault and Peugeot.
But what if you’re not looking for a hot hatch, but instead a motorway trawler? Those with a bit of disposable income would usually look German, but if not, then due to the rising popularity of SUVs, you’ll be pushed to find a good looking saloon with enough tech and oomph. Especially as Ford is hinting at bowing out altogether from the saloon market.
This is why the Peugeot 508 is such an important part of their lineup. Unlike the questionable saloons they used to churn out, this one looks good and – dare I say it – premium? And it has the ins and outs to back up its looks, too. In fact, they’re not even calling it a saloon, they’re calling it a 5-door fastback.
The french marque are taking the competition straight to the VW Group, too, with their i-cockpit digital instrument cluster and sleek interior shaping. And who said Peugeot used poor interior materials?
The engine sits comfortably within the market with petrol and diesel variants available and the most powerful being a 222bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol unit similar to that in the 208 GTI PS. And of course, a hybrid version will be revealed in 2019 to keep up with the Joneses.
Overall the car seems more muscular, more executive, and more daring. It makes for an excellent attempt at reviving the dying saloon market. If only they could pump a little more power into it and add some GTI spark. Now that would be a saloon to wake up the competition.