Peugeot 505 Turbo: magnificent comfort

Even though French carmaker Peugeot has added a turbocharger to its 2.2-liter , gasoline-engine 505 sedan, don't think the result is a hard-nosed performance car with a stiff suspension, rigid seats, and the feel of a race car.

It's still a Peugeot, and the 505 turbo is every bit as civilized and French-derived as any other Peugeot.

The brand-new 505 turbo is still a magnificently comfortable automobile, not only to drive, but to sit in as well. The front and rear seats cradle the occupants in serene comfort, while the adjusted suspension soaks up the bumps with the certainty of a sponge.

The dashboard layout is pleasing, and the controls are well placed for convenience and ease of operation. There are, of course, the little peculiarities that make a French car - well, a French car. But that's part of the fun of it. The Peugeot has an identity of its own.

You drive a Peugeot as if you really like the car and want to be in it. Thus, you do what is required to control the car, but you don't push it as you might a sports car. You don't whip it into the turns or hammer the brakes.

In short, the genteel approach works far better than an aggressive stance.

Nor is the 505 turbo the most aerodynamic car ever to come down the pike. Yet the modifications to the body of the car have dropped the coefficient of drag to 0.39 from the 0.42 of the STI.

The company offers only one transmission, a 5-speed, and this could limit its success for the moment. In '86, however, it will provide an automatic as well.

It's also too bad the car doesn't have an intercooler, a device to jack up the performance by another notch or two, but that, too, will come next year. The intercooler already is available in Western Europe.

The car uses an abundance of advanced electronic controls to fire the engine and reduce emissions.

The 505 turbo, with a curb weight of 3,130 pounds, is heavier than the STI but lighter than the turbodiesel. Base price is around $19,000, although the options are few and far between.

While Peugeot is in the same league as Renault as a car producer, it hasn't had the whirlwind success in the United States that some of its European competitors, not to mention the Japanese, have had. Even so, sales are up some 30 percent over the same time slot a year ago.

The company expects to sell more than 20,000 cars in the US this year, 25,000 in '85, and more than 30,000 in '86. By the end of the decade it aims for 45,000 to 50,000.

To keep up the momentum, Peugeot says it will continue to introduce new engines and transmissions as well as new models for the rest of the 1980s.

In line with this philosophy, next year the carmaker will replace the 2.3 -liter diesel engine with a 2.5-liter engine, even though the company does not expect diesel sales to take off as they did in the fuel-crunch days of the past.

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