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Peugeot 508 eHDi: Road Test

words - Chris Fincham
While the fuel-sipping Frenchy’s sharp pricing and low running costs are definite drawcards, the fussy gearbox means we’d opt for a slightly less enviro-friendly petrol or turbodiesel version
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Peugeot 508 eHDi
Road Test

Price Guide: (recommended price before statutory and delivery charges): $37,990
Options fitted: (not included in above price): Metallic Paint $800
Crash rating: Five-star (ANCAP)
Fuel: Diesel
Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 4.4
CO2 emissions (g/km): 115
Also consider: Renault Latitude, Skoda Superb, Volkswagen Passat

Mercedes-Benz has BlueEfficiency, Volkswagen BlueMotion, Ford Econetic and Mazda SkyActiv...  all fuel-saving solutions designed to extend the life of the fossil fuel engine by helping their respective manufacturers comply with increasingly strict regulators demanding greener vehicles.

Now Peugeot has introduced to Australia its e-HDi system, aimed at buyers who want to lower running costs while helping save the planet. Initially available only in the 308 small hatch and 508 mid-sized sedan, Peugeot says e-HDi will be rolled out to other models as they are progressively updated.

Not unlike other micro hybrid systems, the 508 e-HDi combines a frugal, small capacity turbodiesel engine with its second-generation stop-start system and electronically-controlled six-speed clutchless gearbox which has gear ratios optimised for fuel economy.

Peugeot says eHDi delivers improvements of between six and 15 per cent to the engine’s fuel efficiency, depending on the type of traffic.

The new-to-the-range Euro5, 1.6-litre HDi engine outputs 82kW at 3600rpm and 270Nm at 1750rpm, resulting in a claimed zero to 100km/h time of 11.9 seconds. With other fuel saving measures including low-viscosity engine oil, variable-capacity oil pump, and (optional) low rolling resistance tyres, the e-HDi 508 delivers an official (combined) fuel figure of just 4.4L/100 km and CO2 emissions of 115 g/km.

That’s compared to the 120kW/340Nm 2.0-litre turbodiesel 508, which sprints to 100km/h in 9.2secs, delivers 5.7L/100km and outputs 149g/km of C02; or the 115kW/240Nm 1.6-litre turbo petrol 508 which does the dash in 9.2 seconds and delivers 7.1L/100km and 164 g/km.

In practice, Peugeot’s stop-start system is one of the best we’ve tried; quick and unobtrusive, with little of the rumble or slight delay you get with some other systems. It’s so efficient that, on applying the brake the engine will switch off before the car comes to a halt (below 8km/h), which was unsettling at first, particularly when edging into a gutter during parking and needing a touch more throttle.

Utilising a reversible alternator, it will re-start in just 400 milliseconds (twice as fast as a manual key start), according to Peugeot. The dash display also includes a timer that keeps track of how long the engine is in ‘standby mode’ on each journey, although it would have been handy to also have an overall trip time to compare it with or even better, a calculation of ‘stoppage’ time as a percentage of overall trip time.

Like many other systems, eHDI will also automatically disable any unnecessary ancillary items when not in use, such as the air-conditioning. There’s a button in the centre console to disable this particular feature if required.

While behaving similar to a conventional torque converter auto in ‘D’ mode, the electronically-controlled six-speed manual gearbox (EGC) is surprisingly slow and jerky in operation, and tends to hold onto gears too long. You can almost count the seconds as it shifts clumsily from first to second gear. Trying various techniques, including manually shifting via the steering wheel paddles, or lifting off the accelerator during changes, makes little difference.

We found the best way to smooth the upshifts was to feather the throttle up to cruising speed, but that wasn’t always possible in the cut and thrust of peak hour traffic.

It’s a pity, as the engine is a willing and refined performer given its size, with sufficient low-down pulling power for around town and decent get-up-and-go on the freeway. The 1485kg family sedan delivered on promised frugality though, with 6.1L/100km recorded during a week of suburban and freeway driving; not quite as good as claimed although our test car wasn’t fitted with optional low rolling resistance tyres.

The recalcitrant transmission detracted from an otherwise impressively equipped and well presented family-sized tourer, with a classy, comfy cabin including spacious rear seats and a particularly deep boot. On-road manners are above par, exhibiting a notably plush ride (despite some Euro-style initial firmness), competent cornering prowess and quiet interior ambience.

Priced at $37,990, the Peugeot 508 e-HDi is available in base Active grade only, attracting a $1500 premium over the similarly-spec’ed 1.6-litre turbo petrol 508 Active.

While sharp pricing and low running costs are definite drawcards, the fussy gearbox means we’d opt for a slightly less enviro-friendly petrol or turbodiesel version, fitted with more user-friendly six-speed auto, if we had our heart set on one of these stylish French four-doors.

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Powered By Published : Thursday, 29 December 2011

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