Peugeot 508 PSE review
The Peugeot 508 PSE is an extremely handsome, fast and comfortable performance plug-in hybrid. Electric range is a bit limited, though
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If you want to slash your fuel bill but aren’t quite prepared to give up on the performance car lifestyle, the new Peugeot 508 PSE might be right up your alley. Not only can this practical plug-in hybrid saloon accelerate from 0-60mph in 5.2 seconds, Peugeot also claims it can travel 26 miles on nothing but electricity.
It’s definitely a sight for sore eyes, too, which is a good thing considering it’s set to go up against go-faster versions of the BMW 3 Series and Volvo S60.
The regular 508 is already one of the most handsome saloon cars around; but with its massive 20 inch alloys, aggressive new bodywork and vivid green accents, this new Peugeot Sport Engineered 508 looks more athletic than ever before. Kind of like Brad Pitt would if he was wearing his gym kit.
This sporting theme continues on the inside. It’s all dark leather upholstery, soft touch plastics and bright, contrasting stitching in here – and they all combine to pretty stunning effect. The 508 PSE looks and feels like a properly high-end sporting saloon. A digital instrument binnacle and good-sized infotainment screen add to the car’s tech appeal, too.
However, the driving position is a bit more of a controversial issue. The seats offer plenty of adjustment and are impressively supportive, but the low-set, small-diameter steering wheel might just feel plain weird to some. Headroom in the back is pretty tight too, but this go-faster 508 does at least have a large boot.
It’ll get you and your luggage down the road very quickly, too. By combining a regular petrol engine with not one, but two electric motors (one at each end for all-wheel-drive), the 508 PSE puts down an impressive 355hp. And when you’re not in a mood to really get your foot down, its 11.5kWh battery will let you travel 26 miles on nothing but electricity.
Admittedly, that claimed figure is a touch limited next to other sporty plug-in hybrid saloons, which is important if you’re planning on running one as a company car. As it stands, it slots into the 13% benefit-in-kind tax bracket.
The 508 PSE is an impressively quick car in a straight line, but it’s a shame it doesn’t have better electric range
Don’t let the 508’s sporty looks and performance fool you into thinking that it’s too hardcore for daily use, either. Sure, you’re aware of its more athletic suspension when you’re driving around town or out on the motorway, but it doesn’t crash over bumps and is impressively comfortable over distance. Those large 20-inch alloys to generate a fair bit of road noise, mind.
Still, this is a problem that can be easily solved. The Peugeot 508 PSE comes with an excellent Focal premium sound system as standard, along with everything from DAB radio, to Bluetooth, and satellite navigation to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There’s lots of useful safety tech, too. A 360-degree camera and rear parking sensors will come in handy in town; while things like adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist will help to keep things comfortable and safe on the motorway.
Of course, a car with this much sporting potential and on-board tech isn’t particularly cheap. Prices start at just under £54,000, which is about what you’d pay for a plug-in hybrid from Volvo, or for a genuine six-cylinder performance car from BMW.
But if this handsome French athlete is up your alley, head on over to our deals page to see how much money we can save you on a new Peugeot 508 PSE.
The 508 PSE has a big boot, but the driving position is a bit strange and headroom in the back is tight
If you’ve never driven a modern-day Peugeot, you might find the layout of its controls a bit odd on first acquaintance. The steering wheel is tiny, and fairly low set – if you’re particularly tall, you might feel as though it’s almost sitting in your lap. Because of its small diameter you look at the digital instrument binnacle over the top of the rim, which might feel odd for those not used to it and can mean those with long legs who mount the wheel high won’t be able to see the instruments.
But aside from this important quirk, adjustability is good. You can bring the steering wheel in close to your chest, and the electrically-operated seats are comfortable and impressively supportive. You sit reasonably low in the Peugeot, which adds to its sporting feel. If you’re used to a more raised driving position, you might not like this so much.
Back seat space is a bit of a mixed bag. Taller passengers will find they’ve got loads of leg- and kneeroom, but the sloping roofline that gives the 508 its sporty looks means there isn’t much headroom. You’d struggle to get an adult passenger comfortable in the middle seat, too. Kids should fit back there just fine, though, and there are Isofix seat anchors on the outside seats.
There’s a decent amount of storage space in the cabin – and certainly enough to accommodate any random odds and ends from family holidays. The two cup holders just ahead of the front armrest are a good size, and the front door bins are large enough to hold a regular-sized flask easily enough. The glove box is pretty small, mind.
Back seat passengers are well catered for, too. The door bins back here won’t hold a solid flask, but the cupholders in the fold-down armrest will. There are pockets behind front seats for things like books and iPads, too.
Although the 508 PSE might look like a sporty four-door coupe, its hatchback-style boot means there’s plenty of space for your luggage. The boot has 487 litres of capacity with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats up, and 1537 litres if you fold them down flat. That’s considerably more than you’ll in a BMW 330e or Volvo S60 Recharge.
There’s not much of a lip to navigate, and beneath the flat floor there’s a decent-sized cubby where you can store your charging cables. There are a handful of tie-down points, a 12-volt socket and a single hook to hang things like shopping bags too. Oh, and the tailgate is electrically operated.
And if you need even more storage space, you can also get the 508 PSE as an estate, which has a larger 530-litre boot.
The 508 PSE is quick in a straight line and surprisingly comfortable given its sporty set up, but electric range is limited
The 508 PSE is available with just one engine option, but it’s a bit of a firecracker. You get a regular turbocharged petrol motor and two electric motors, all of which combine to produce a hefty 355hp. One of those electric motors is housed at the back of the car too, which means the 508 PSE has all-wheel drive.
So it’s a quick car, then. Peugeot claims it can accelerate from 0-60mph in 5.2 seconds, and we’ve got no reason to doubt that. It’s only available with an eight-speed automatic transmission too, so it’s a very easy car to drive around town.
Its 11.5kWh battery is good for a claimed electric range of 26 miles, but we saw closer to 15 miles from a full charge – so be aware that a bit of cold weather can have an effect here. That 26-mile figure is also about 10 miles less than what you’d get from alternatives such as the BMW 330e and Volvo S60 Recharge, which means the 508 PSE will cost more in benefit-in-kind tax if you’re planning on running one as a company car.
Still, you can charge the battery up fairly quickly. Plug in to a 7kW home wallbox and you’ll get it topped up in 1hr 45mins; while a standard three-pin socket will do the job overnight. Provided you make a point of charging it regularly, you should be able to significantly cut your monthly fuel bill.
Because of its low-set driving position, steep windscreen and small rear window, the view out front and back isn’t quite as good as we’d hoped. It’s certainly not a tricky car to navigate around tight city streets, but it’s something to be aware of.
It’s comfortable on all manner of road surfaces, and even with those big 20-inch alloys it deals with lumps and bumps with little in the way of fuss or bother. It’s pretty fun on a twisting country road too, if not quite as engaging and exciting as a BMW M340i or 330e – both of which can be had for similar money. The Peugeot’s lightweight steering and spongy brake pedal are partly responsible for this.
Out on the motorway, it really impresses. Yes, there’s a bit of road noise, but thanks to its sleek shape there is hardly any wind noise. With gadgets like adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist, long-distance drives should be a little less taxing too.
Peugeot 508 PSE brings the wow-factor and is generously equipped, but the infotainment system could be more responsive
Peugeot 508 PSE colours
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