Peugeot’s performance-flavoured offerings have been sporadic in recent years, but the very first product under the all-new Peugeot Sport Engineered sub-brand should be seen as a success, albeit with caveats.

It is an expensive car, the 508 PSE. It’s also heavier than rivals and does without their cylinder count – or their rear-biased powertrains. However, handling in the spirit of the finest four-wheel-drive hot hatches and an ability to genuinely engage its driver propel the PSE high up into the fast estate (and saloon) ranks.

Hits notable handling highs but feels less than sharp elsewhere

That this flagship 508, so rich in personality, matches that B-road agility and composure with fine road manners and deft ride quality during more mundane tasks shows that Peugeot has not cut corners.

The slick calibration of the PSE’s three power sources also speaks of expertise, although there’s no escaping the driveline’s flaws. While responsive, it lacks outright shove and, unlike the car’s handling, is hard to truly engage with. Were the electric range greater, it might have been worth it.

As it is, though, the 508 PSE’s hybrid elements feel more a necessary evil than virtuous in their own right. This car’s magic resides elsewhere.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Peugeot 508 SW