Executive saloon arrives in its sporting plug-in hybrid form with much to prove

Why we’re running it: To see whether Peugeot’s new sporting saloon can hold its own on luxury and performance in this competitive space

Month 3Month 2Month 1 - Specs

Life with a 508 PSE: Month 3

What a difference Sport mode makes - 16 March 2022

As is customary on faster cars, Sport is one of five driving modes you can select on the 508 PSE. It’s subtle in the same way as the car’s performance, but you will receive the full 355bhp, heavier steering, stiffer dampers and a sharper throttle response. It also generates the highest level of battery regeneration to keep the electric power flowing.

Mileage: 7912

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Rarified air - 2 March 2022

Since taking on the 508 PSE, I’ve yet to see another on the road. That’s not surprising, given only 2000 were sold globally last year. However, this met Peugeot’s modest expectations, CEO Linda Jackson told me. There are no plans for more PSE models, but “the 508 PSE is very important, being a neo-performance model and a link between the endurance hypercar and a car we can sell.”

Mileage: 7631

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Time to find out how well our car fulfils its long-haul exec role - 23 February 2022

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Having recently done a few motorway stints on weekdays, I have been pondering the viability of the 508 PSE as an executive car, which is, after all, one of its key reasons to exist.

Peugeot reckons 65% of sales will be to fleets, stating on its website: “The 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered could be the perfect business vehicle for you, combining performance and low BIK thanks to its plug-in hybrid engine.”

Driving long distances in the PSE is a pleasure: I like the driving position, seat comfort and general visibility. It feels very cosseting in a suitably premium way for a car costing not much short of £55k.

It’s a soft performance car – beyond ample for everything you need on a motorway – but also not blink-and-you-miss-it quick. It feels as though it’s positioned to be a special step up from your average exec car, without trying to be anywhere near a BMW M3.

One downside of higher-speed driving is the noise in the cabin, which feels excessive. It’s a mix of road noise, wind noise and vibration and is something for Peugeot to work on for next time round.

Other than the occasional times it loses the Apple CarPlay connection at a vital moment when I need Google Maps and the frustrating requirement to reselect the radio as an audio source after talking on the phone, I’m also enjoying the infotainment system, although my day-to-day use doesn’t stretch much beyond Apple CarPlay mirroring.

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The vehicle’s systems – such as when it flashes up on the driver’s screen if you are close to a car in front or alerts you when you’re approaching a speed camera – are helpful rather than abrasive or alarming, and all contribute to an easy experience when I’m driving long distances for work. There’s also a speed limit alert system, but given it recently suggested the limit was 90mph when (a) it was actually 50mphand(b)90mphisnever legal in the UK, I’m leaning towards ignoring it altogether. The car doesn’t have a huge petrol range – less than 300 miles – which means more service station stops than I expect.

I’m still falling into the trap of thinking like a typical saloon car owner and that I won’t need to fill up for a while when, in fact, often there’s not much range left. I’m not helping the cause, though: if I had a driveway, I’d ensure its electric range was fully topped up, which would provide zero-emissions driving for the non-motorway elements of my journey and probably help overall efficiency slightly, too.

For that same reason, efficiency isn’t great. Official figures, inevitably based on a decent whack of electric- only driving, are 138.9mpg. My reality: subtract 100mpg, and you’ll be about right. That is not very wallet-friendly for a company’s budget sheet but is balanced with its benefit-in-kind rate of 13% (14% from April), which is at the lower end of the spectrum.

Love it:

Sound seating Driver’s seat is a very comfortable, cosseting place to be for long journeys.

Loathe it:

Sound intrusion Noise in cabin can be jarring, especially on sections of the UK’s not so smooth motorways.

Mileage: 7332

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Life with a 508 PSE: Month 2

‘No charge for that’ takes on a different slant if you live with a plug-in car in London - 9 February 2022

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This is a sorry tale, and one I didn’t want to have to tell, about running a plug- in car in London – one of the areas where electric motoring is best suited. It has cemented my view that leasing an EV as a second car – which we were keen to do in the near future – is not a viable option until we have a house with a driveway.

None of this is a reflection of the 508 PSE plug-in hybrid, apart from its lack of a three-pin plug as standard, which quickly wrecked the grand plan to charge while at my parents’ house for Christmas.

First, there are the eight SureCharge on-street chargers that aren’t outside my front door but aren’t ridiculously far away either. They’re my best bet for charging the PSE conveniently. They aren’t too expensive, working out at about £2.70 for a full charge (that’s around 20 miles in the PSE) and they work more often than not.

However, if I were to think about my overall success rate, I’d say I manage to charge one in four times I want to. That’s because another car is parked there – sometimes an electrified car but more often than not a purely combustion- engined one. The SureCharge app also stopped working for a number of weeks, rendering the points unusable, and two of the points have been out of action for a month or two, too.

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Then there’s moving around London. When we visited the Science Museum, we tried some nearby Source London points. At the first location, the two points were full. At the second, there were two spots. One had a Porsche Taycan, which wasn’t plugged in (no comment). The second was free so we parked, but the 50kW charger wouldn’t work so I used the long cable to connect the point by the Taycan to the PSE and it worked.

At another Source London in Acton, the 50kW charger wouldn’t charge the car and the 7kW charger had a QR code on it that led nowhere.

Next, a Podpoint charger in Brentford. It added just three miles of charge in one hour, despite saying it was a 7kW charger.

The most luck I’ve had so far is with BP Pulse. I used one in a Leicester Square multi-storey without any problem. There was also a BP Pulse charger at a hotel I visited in Northampton. But out of London, another issue occurred: there was no wi-fi or signal so I had to plug the car in, then go inside the hotel for wi-fi to hit ‘charge’ and, of course, then stop the charge in the hotel before going out to the car.

I’m aware that EV evangelists will tell me how living with an electric car in the city is as easy as pie. But as someone open to plug-in vehicles, I have seized the opportunity to discover the feasibility of living with one in my neck of the woods (west London). Yet time and time again, I’ve been disappointed and my default assumption when I now hunt down chargers is that it won’t be possible to charge for one reason or another. In many city scenarios, it also means you need to find alternative parking.

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The car industry has long lobbied for more government support for EV infrastructure and that argument has become even stronger as EV uptake has accelerated.

Yes, I could make life easier by subscribing to the various providers, but that wouldn’t address many of the problems detailed above. Based on my experiences so far, issues of charger reliability and availability remain top of the agenda before the average motorist can be expected to embrace electrification.

Love it:

Capital refinement Quiet and smooth electric driving around London remains as enjoyable as it ever can be in the Big Smoke.

Loathe it:

Charging in London Many more people would have the chance to experience such driving if the charging infrastructure was convincing.

Mileage: 7632

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Unwanted openings - 2 February 2022

After a night of torrential rain on holiday in Kent, I discovered the 508 PSE’s interior was drenched, because I had accidentally opened the windows with the key fob. Now I know how easy it is to do (just hold the unlock button down), I will a) be more careful and b) use it to my advantage, such as during hot weather.

Mileage: 6821

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No mistaking a PSE - 19 January 2022

I will be harping on about the Peugeot 508 PSE’s aesthetic allure for a while, but let’s look at the details. I love the grey offset with subtle yet sporty yellow calipers, the yellow edging of the air intakes on the front bumper and the three yellow lines on the C-pillar and logos. I will almost always go for the most subdued hue if given a choice, but these flecks of fun looks great and suit the Peugeot 's positioning.

Mileage: 6459

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Life with a 508 PSE: Month 1

Sound of silence - 22 December 2021

Speed camera sound alerts are handy, but I’ve been desperately trying to turn them off in the 508, due to their irritating pitch. It’s not easy to find: you have to go through five touchscreen points to get there and it’s ambiguously labelled ‘risk areas alert’. On the upside, it doesn’t automatically turn back on the next time you get into the car, so I’ve been driving in peace since.

Mileage: 5921

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Welcoming the 508 PSE to the fleet - 1 December 2021

There are few greater assertions of future intentions than the Peugeot 508 PSE. This is Peugeot’s bid not only to bring back performance for an electrified age (indirectly replacing its GTi brand) but also to showcase that it really can nail luxury to compete with the big German trio.

This saloon is the first and halo Peugeot Sport Engineered (PSE) model, but more are expected. What exactly we don’t know, but earlier this year Peugeot told us it’s unlikely to be a Peugeot 308 PSE hot hatch, given low volume expectations and emissions limitations.

It has another claim to fame, too: it’s Peugeot’s most powerful production car yet. Plus it arrives as the brand gears up to make its landmark return to top-flight motorsport with a World Endurance Championship Hypercar entry in 2022, making it a prudent time to show what it can do in the less dramatic, mainstream car sector.

The statistics, then. The 508 PSE’s hybrid powertrain combines a 197bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with a pair of electric motors (one with 109bhp on the front axle and one with 111bhp at the rear), sending a combined 355bhp and 386lb ft to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It has a claimed 0-62mph time of 5.2sec and it achieves 139mpg on the WLTP combined cycle, emitting 46g/km of CO2.

Its 11.5kWh lithium ion battery – which happily doesn’t reduce cabin space or boot capacity – offers an electric-only range of 26 miles and can be fully charged in two hours using a 32-amp wallbox.

It’s those performance and efficiency figures in tandem that Peugeot is hoping to capitalise on with the 508 PSE. It’s no surprise that a saloon is focused towards company cars (65% of sales are expected to be from fleets), but the brand is aiming to attract a new audience of business drivers now that it has a sporty-ish plug-in hybrid on its books.

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It will need to be good, mind you, considering that it costs £53,995. The Audi S4 starts at about £5000 less and does 0-62mph in 4.6sec. Still, one appealing aspect of the 508 PSE is how almost everything is included as standard. The only options that Peugeot’s website shows are a panoramic sunroof (£870), a 7.4kW monophase on-board charger (£300) and black or pearlescent white paint (our Selenium Grey is no extra cost).

There are the ample safety systems that we’ve come to expect on modern cars: ABS, EBA, ESP, ABSD, DAA3, AEBS3... I’m just winding you up now (but there’s a congratulatory email in store for anyone who can name what they are without Google). Anyway, it’s very safe. Slightly more excitingly, there’s a 360deg colour camera, a 10.0in touchscreen, many seat adjustments for comfort, heated rear windscreen and, I would wager, almost everything you might want.

Outside, there are 20in diamond- cut alloys, LED lights and plenty of gloss-black details.

Despite the 508 PSE being a performance model, the quality and usability of the interior feel crucial to rival traditional luxury brands such as Audi and BMW. Getting into it for the first time impresses: the cockpit is cosseting in the way one expects from higher-end cars, and the mix of leather and Alcantara, plus the layout, lends it a top-quality air.

At first glance, it feels, if not on a par with those brands, very, very close. The touchscreen also looks good; only time will tell whether that equates to a positive user experience.

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It’s instantly intuitive to drive, with quick, accurate steering and unintimidating performance. It feels, in the first few miles, like an easy-to-live-with executive car with a bit of added va-va-voom and the benefit of electric-only range.

So far, I’m afraid my suburban living might tamper with how usable that electric range is, due to the charging network (or lack of), but while it will doubtless feature in these upcoming reports, it’s certainly not an issue specific to this PHEV.

The 508 PSE is a bold move for Peugeot. It’s exciting for us car fans to see a brand push forward with performance models when so many are shying away, but it also seems risky, especially when it pins itself against well-regarded rivals, such as the Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered. The time on our fleet will allow us to consider how the PSE brand can fit into both everyday life and Peugeot’s future vision.

Second Opinion

I rather like the 508 PSE. Big family cars rarely do well at our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car competition, but this hot hybrid impressed us with not just its composure but also its involvement. It definitely held its own. And it was then a joy to schlep the long miles home in it afterwards.

Matt Prior

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Peugeot 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered specification

Specs: Price New £53,995 Price as tested £53,995 Options None

Test Data: Engine 4 cyls in line, 1598cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 355bhp (combined) Battery 11.5kWh Kerb weight 1875kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 5.2sec Fuel economy 138.9mpg Electric range 26 miles CO2 45g/km Faults None Expenses None

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Join the debate

Add a comment…
Pawel72 6 February 2022

I was thinking why do  the german car fanboys are unable ( or maybe they're simply jealous ).., to accept the reality of things..!? :) There are some french cars which have better driving , and better handling and they look better than many german cars .., that's all !  C'est la vie :)

xxxx 22 March 2022

The only problem is this 55k 1.6 4 pot depreciation magnet isn't one of them...au revoir:)

sabre 23 March 2022

Still there are much more Frenchmen who own German cars than Germans who own French cars. I had a Citroen and had so many troubles, I will never buy a French car.

martin_66 4 January 2022

Utter madness.  What sort of lunatic would pay £54,000 for a Peugeot?  The brilliant BMW M340i costs less than this thing.  It is quicker, has a decent 3 litre 6 cylinder engine, has enough equipment fitted as standard that you don't need to raid the options list, and you can guarantee it will drive better than this thing too.

shiftright 14 January 2022

I'm with you on the price, and pretty sure the BMW will drive a bit better also, but the greatest thing this has going for it is that it's not a BMW, or an Audi, or a Mercedes, and nowadays that would be enough for me to seriously consider it. It's well built,  still drives very well, and let's be honest, for 90% of us 90% of the time, the small difference in dynamics isn't a factor. This looks much more intersting too. Now about that price...

VicciV 3 February 2022

What such gross disrespect to call Peugeot a "thing"? Your allusion to that the BMW will drive better than the 508 refers. The 508 in standard form is the D Segment class leader in the moose test, it managed 94km/h, while the runner up VW Passat managed a distant 87km/h, while a BMW 3 series M only managed to clock a miserable 77km/h. This is indicative of Peugeot's mastery of vehicle dynamics and handling, the absolute best in the world, something BMW can only aspire to. 

sabre 23 March 2022

It is very clever to take a single number - the moose test speed - in order to prove the 508 is superior. A car is tested in many measurable and non-measurable aspects. No, the 508 is inferior to the BMW in most aspects and the latter is superior, unfortunately in price, too. There are more cars that are superior to it, pardonne-moi.


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