The new Peugeot 508 seems like a true return to form for the automaker in the mid-sized segment after it lost its way slightly in the past decade-and-a-half. Where the 405 and 406 models were segment-leading with their restrained sporty looks and excellent dynamics, the 407 that followed had the whiff of an over-grown 308 sedan, while the first-generation 508 unsuccessfully tried to chase the middle-ground with a bigger, heavier body and more middle-of-the-road styling in an effort to replace both the 407 and 607 sedans. By contrast, the new 508 promises much of what made the 405 and 406 great: light weight, well-honed dynamics, a stunning interior (OK, that’s actually new), but most importantly a really desirable, sporty exterior.
And while we’re on the topic of exteriors, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the 508’s front styling reminds me strongly of another car whose styling I’m fond of – the US-only Chevrolet Impala. The similarity stems from the successful implementation of the same idea – that a single horizontal line running the width of the car and linking the top of the headlights and the grille gives the car a mean, squinty look, perfect if you want to give your car some road presence. Both cars then complement this solution with horizontal headlamps with an aggressively-upturned outer edge, a grille that reaches further down than the headlamps in the middle, and a protruding upper edge that forces the bonnet opening away from the front of the car. That said, Peugeot clearly takes this styling concept a few steps further, with an aggressively vertical nose, recessed headlights with LED “icicle” running lights, and a deeply sculpted bumper – all of which make the Impala look positively old-fashioned by comparison.