The Peugeot 508 GT has forced its way to the top of my Car of the Year (so far) list even though It wasn’t for me.
Why not? Because I’m not obsessed with safety gadgets.
Today’s drivers, though, love ’em, despite the safety police making a very successful job of ruining my driving enjoyment.
Why the hell can’t they keep their thieving hands off my life? They steal enjoyment and wreck everything they touch.
The fantastic, and beautiful, 508 GT would get 10 out of 10 from anybody in terms of value for money.
And if (and it’s an impossible if) the “think of the children” rent-a-mob were locked out of sight, or better still buried out of sight, it would get another 10/10 for enjoyment.
The 508 GT is a brilliant car, no doubt about it. It’s fast enough for most people with handling to match, it’s smooth to drive and has got an interior that belongs in a £150,000 limo, never mind a posh £36,000 rep-mobile. But its useless pile of gadgets (useless to normal drivers, who actually look where they’re going) drove me mad.
And don’t think I’m just talking about Peugeot here. I’m talking about all car companies. The obsession with safety is being driven by the search to supply a demanding public with autonomous cars.
Personally I welcome that day. As soon as tailgaters and lunatic drivers fuelled by alcohol or drugs are kept off the roads (the cops seem to have done a runner already), we’ll all be happy.
I feel a bit cruel ranting on about the Peugeot. Maybe I should have waited until I got a Volvo, but, as I said, it doesn’t matter what you drive at the moment, you’ll still be driven right round the bend and back to where you started by the galaxy of so called driving “aids” that are going to end up causing you to have an accident in your efforts to switch them off.
You can’t help noticing that the 508 GT has got a mind of its own thanks to two systems that, thank God, you can turn off when you’re driving the car.
The first is its Lane Keeping system, which tries to steer you in another direction whenever you cross a white line. It makes you feel like screaming out loud that you’ve actually got eyes that work and that you deliberately drove in the direction you wanted so as not to kill a cyclist.
Worse than that, when you switch off Lane Keeping, the steering wheel, rather than giving what Peugeot call a “gentle nudge,” continually interferes thanks to something called Lane Position Assist which keeps the car in the middle of the lane. It never bloody stops until you switch that off, too.
Trouble is, both systems come back on every time you restart the car. It made me think what other “safety” systems are there that are in put in place deliberately to drive you bananas?
How about “gesture” control? That’s not in the 508 GT, but it’s now becoming popular in many new cars.
You can alter your radio volume by waving your hand around in a circle to turn it up or down. If you’ve ever had a passenger in your car you’ll wonder why the radio or sat nav keeps going silent or blasting out loud. It’s impossible to talk without moving your hands to make your point. What a ridiculous invention.
How about auto dipping door mirrors that fold down when you select reverse so you get a great view of the kerb rather than where you’re going? The 508 GT had that.
Another feature is the radio that switches the sound down when you hit reverse. Why? So you can hear people screaming when you run them over? The 508 GT had that.
Then there’s Driver Alert. It tries to persuade you to take a rest when you’ve done 200 miles or so. Why? I’ve not got there yet. The 508 GT had that.
There are, of course, some features that are a good idea. How about driving modes? The 508 GT comes with four, Comfort, Eco, Normal and Sport. Trouble is, it switches back to Comfort every time you turn it off? Personally I was trying to see how economically I could drive, but fat chance of that because I only realised it was back on Comfort when the car took off quickly when I wanted to overtake someone.
Economy mode takes all the life out of the 508 GT but, hell, who cares when you can still cruise around at speeds that would catch the attention of the cops, if there were any left on the roads any more.
Oh well, when you’re not switching everything off, or back on, the 508 GT is a beautiful piece of work on the inside as well as the outside.
Its stunning interior is a combination of padded grey, white stitched leather, a black and silver dashboard set in a carbon fibre surround, an 8in MMI display with a sat nav screen that shows your height (useful in mountains) as well as a sound warning for speed cameras.
The main dashboard display can be anything you want as there’s a choice of five different screens, there’s plenty of room in the rear for adults and it’s 3ft 6in boot stretches to 6ft with the rear seat backs folded flat. The 508 generally is a big car.
Despite all this luxury and practicality, though, there’s one thing that really sticks in my mind about the 508 GT, and that’s its silence and economy.
I came very close to achieving its combined figure of 38mpg despite a 450 mile motorway dash to mighty Macclesfield and back at speeds which I won’t say, but will find time to thank its sat nav for because of its continual camera warnings.
Its silence is eerie and drivers will have to keep an eye on the speedo because with a top speed of 155mph the 508 GT is not slow, especially in areas where you’d expect it to start running out of steam. Far from it. Okay it’s not a neck snapping blast from take off but, hell, it’s quick enough with 0-62mph in 7.3s.
It’s a blindingly brilliant car in every respect – the amount of standard kit, its stunning interior, beautiful looks, silence and economy, could easily see it being at the top of the pile at the end of the year.
Now all I have to do is find a sledge hammer to “adjust” its safety settings.
Peugeot 508 GT 225 Auto.
REAR MIRROR MONSTER: Twin projector headlights, a bonnet bulge, driving lights like swords and lots of honeycomb make it an incredibly swish machine that’s also a bit of a monster when it looms up behind you.
BACKSIDE BEAUTY: Slopes down so far it looks like a nursery run for learner skiers. Joined up from side to side by a black strip connected to its smoked tail lights. Fantastic.
PLAYTIME PLEASER: Touchscreen sat nav, twin zone climate control, adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, front and rear parking sensors with rear parking assist camera and overhead front and rear view camera, trip computer, Nappa leather seats, electric and heated at front, with front seat massage functions and three position memory for driver, cornering headlights, electric tailgate, wireless phone charger, keyless entry and start, heated, folding door mirrors, auto dipping headlights, 19in diamond cut alloys, RDS stereo with MirrorScreen, Apple CarPlay, MP3 player, twin Bluetooth for rear passengers, twin USB points in front and rear, and aux.
NAUGHTY NIGGLES: Rear window may be long and fairly flat but there’s no rear wiper.
TASTY TOUCHES: Space saver spare tyre is standard. Indicators are dazzlingly different. Don’t bother touching anything before and after you’ve switched off the engine. It’s all done for you.
FAST OR LAST: If you can find a long and twisty road that’s actually free of traffic you’ll love it.
WONGA WONDA: Terrific value, no doubt about it.
WOULD CHANTELLE LIKE IT? Strangely it doesn’t seem as huge as it is, and parking is easy with all round cameras so, yes Chantelle would love it.
Car of the Year (so far) here: