Peugeot 504 TI
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3
Superb Dynamic Qualities
That the Peugeot 504
is not such an uncommon sight on the roads today goes to prove the durability of the fine French auto. But from a styling point of view, the Peugeot 504 is and was a plain, not-quite-pretty French sedan with a relatively big body (inside and out) for its engine size.
To people who have had the pleasure, however, it was a driver's car of boundless depth and subtlety, to be appreciated for its superb dynamic qualities even more than for its solid Gallic practicality. An enthusiast's regard for a Pug 504
is based on the pleasurable sensations the car imparts to them while both are on the move.
The Sum Of All Parts
There was no single reason for the fuel-injected 504's appeal. It was not a Lotus Seven
- all nippiness and roadholding - or a 7.5-litre Corvette
in which everything hinged around the engine's torque. It was a progressively designed, but pretty conventional sedan, with front engine
, rear drive, a big glass area, lots of interior room, a big boot and generous space for five.
The engine was related to the one Peugeot used in the 203
- the car that made its name in the Fifties when round-Australia trials riddled with "horror stretches" were all the rage. If you are interested, you may enjoy reading our features on the Redex Trials
. By the time the engine
found its way under the hood of the 504
, its capacity was 1.97-litres, not 1.3, and in the 504 TI it was fed via Kugelfischer fuel injection for clean running and power.
A Typically French Engine
Even that form the engine
was good for 72 kW (97 bhp) at 5000 rpm and a peak torque rating of 138 Nm (102 lb/ft) at 3000 rpm. Mind you, these were DIN ratings - far more honest than the paunchy SAE claims used at the time. French sub-2.5-litre engines seemed a distinct type. They were mostly four cylinder engines with pushrod actuated valves
but with sophisticated head designs, just the same - in some they had hemi combustion changes.
They were rarely highly tuned or high revving; they had normally been around for a long time and most used replacable wet cylinder liners. The Peugeot 504, Citroen DS 23, Renault 12 and Renault 15/16/17 all had engines which conformed to this pattern. The Peugeot engine was perfect for this car. It is supremely easy to get along with during cold starts and traffic crawls, yet it pulls well at high engine speeds, too; not running out of breath when the pace gets hot, as do so many other docile sedan engines.
The Pug four-speed gearbox (you couldn't have a automatic
) had first class ratios and a change action which was designed to be fluid and satisfying as you stirred the stubby lever around the gate. However, the quality of the gearchange varied from car to car, some of them being rather notchy. The good donk and good ratios, helped by the extra 10 kW or so provided by the injection and the slightly higher overall gearing of the TI (the diff ratio was numerically higher) gave the Pug the mechanical capability of cruising at 140-160 km/h for as far and as long as you needed it to. And the fuel economy was good too, the car sipping as little as 8.7 litres/100km (26 mpg).
A Functional French Interior
The Peugeot let you down a bit in interior appearance. It didn't have the quiet opulence that you would have expected a European costing a premium over locally built cars to offer. In fact, for the kind of money Peugeot were asking, you could have opted for a Holden Statesman that would have had a more powerful engine, luxury, size and presence. Dare we say, even more street cred. But the reality of the Peugeot's luxury began when your rear end sunk into the seat. It was like reclining in your favorite armchair except that you couldn't put your feet up. There was support for your body right forward to your knees and right up to your shoulder blades - especially after Renault
Australia began fitting 504s with then new high-backed seats.
Rear passengers were well catered for too - far better than they were in a Holden for example, even though the Holden was a longer car. There was more usable room in the Pug's boot, too, because its spare tyre fitted below the floor level. But the best part of the 504 was undoubtedly the car's ride and handling
. With family sedans - and that's what this car most certainly was - it was customary for designers to compromise on either one to achieve great results with the other. No such compromise was made with the 504. The handling was superb yet the ride was in the Jaguar class.
The only criticism that could be levelled at the way the car cornered was that the steering
wheel was too large and the steering
ratio was a little low, meaning that a good deal of wheel winding was needed if you were motoring quickly through tight going. The car understeered mildly, and we suppose that it eventually moved into oversteer at the limit, but its limits were very, very high. The ride was well damped yet soft, and the enveloping seats helped. The quietness was something else, too. Provided the front window frames fitted the body properly (you just bent them in if they didn't) - a Pug was a very quiet high speed car.
Wind noise was nearly as well kept out as a Saab and road noise was well muffled. Engine sounds were the most intrusive and they were really only a murmur. The Pug 504 TI was so good that once anybody had driven one, they would have felt the palms of their hands itch for a steering wheel with a rampant lion on the boss every time a 504 went by. It was a car which was truly built for Australian conditions and just about any other conditions in the world. In a word, brilliant.