Mattei exclusively told Autocar that the 508’s EMP2 platform was developed from the very beginning with “tight packaging” in order to enable Peugeot to offer an electrified powertrain from mid-2019 without impeding practicality.
“Our team of designers spent a year and a half, which is longer than usual, with engineers to access the best technology and knowledge for this car’s platform,” he said. “We have been able to break the conventions for design proportions while keeping those performances [such as boot space] unaffected in the architecture.”
The car’s batteries will be located beneath the floor of the boot without impacting load space, although the space for the spare wheel is lost. This has enabled Peugeot to provide the PHEV with enough power to provide a 31-mile pure electric range (WLTP), which is six better than the plug-in BMW 330e offers.
The 508, formerly a staid-looking four-door saloon, is now a now a much more stylish bustle-backed five-door with frameless doors and “sharp and sculpted” lines. It is around 6cm lower than most rivals in its class, and looks low and sleek even though it is about 8cm shorter overall.
A rear light bar with LED lights is taken straight from the Instinct concept, and front-end styling draws from the car’s more aggressive look than the outgoing 508.
Other tech highlights include a raft of driver assistance systems, as well as an infra-red camera integrated into the car’s pedestrian detection system to aid in detecting pedestrians at night. Inside, the 508 gets Peugeot’s second-generation i-Cockpit system, with a 10in central touchscreen and 12.3in TFT display replacing conventional dials behind the steering wheel.
Where the previous 508 sales were almost exclusively diesel, Peugeot expects a higher petrol bias for the new car around a 68/32 split in favour of diesel is expected by the brand.
The range is topped by a 222bhp Puretech petrol-engined variant, although six petrol and diesel engines are available from launch, with the entry-level car getting a 1.5-litre 128bhp BlueHDi unit - the only 508 available with a manual gearbox. 2.0-litre 158bhp and 178bhp BlueHDi diesels also feature, as does a 2.0-litre 178bhp Puretech petrol.