So, available towards the end of the year or perhaps the start of 2020, the 508 Hybrid gets a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine making 178bhp, augmented by a 108bhp electric motor. Because they don’t both make peak power at the same time, the system’s total is 222bhp, with a torque figure currently unspecified.
Together they drive the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. A similar system, but with an additional motor on the back axle, will give Peugeot’s larger SUVs four-wheel drive; as it will, too, for the 350bhp or so of the surprisingly appealing (to me, anyway) prospect of a Peugeot Sport 508 variant.
With an 11.8kWh battery pack, the 508 Hybrid is said to be capable of 30 miles of EV running on a single charge, while battery positioning has some effect on interior space. The boot is 30 litres smaller, while the fuel tank is down to 43 litres. But the idea is that having a hybrid 508 – or any electrified Peugeot – doesn’t bring too much compromise. It’s a choice of powertrain choice, not philosophy.
What's it like?
So you sit in the 508 Hybrid and it feels like any other 508. Just that the engine probably doesn’t fire when you push the start button, and there are two range gauges on the instrument binnacle, which you can probably see if you site the diddy steering wheel low, but might slightly obscure if you try to retain a ‘normal’ driving position – because that’s how i-Cockpit goes. So far, so Peugeot.
Among the various screens, which again remain too dictated by touchscreen rather than real buttons, you can see what power is going to and from where. And via a drive mode button you can slink the Hybrid between full EV mode, where it’ll stay unless it runs out of juice or you overcome a hefty step on the throttle pedal; hybrid mode, where it’ll gradually run down the EV range; or Sport mode, which does the same but with more power.
It’s possible to hold a level of EV charge in case, say, you’re heading towards a city centre that requires pure EV running. It’s even possible, although Peugeot won’t like to shout about it too much because it’s not how you’re meant to operate a PHEV (although rather a lot do get used without being plugged in), to charge the battery when driving normally, so that you can still switch to EV once you get to a no-combustion zone.
Peugeot reckons owners will mostly charge overnight or at a destination, and because a 7kWh wall-box will charge it in under two hours anyway, the 508 can’t be charged by rapid chargers.
You’ll be able to tell legislators/onlookers at said city that you’re driving in full EV mode by dint of a blue light under the rear view mirror, which will tell them.
At least, you will when the car’s finished. Peugeot is still deciding exactly what colour to make it, because the EU are deciding what colour a light signifying autonomous use will be, too.
Should I buy one?
These cars are still development ones, and although the mechanical specification is fixed, calibration isn’t. So we tried one whose engine/motor switch was a touch jerky, and one later iteration in which it was very good. The motor provides extra oomph without having to work the engine, while it’s as smooth as any EV in full electric mode.
Like several EVs/PHEVs there are regenerative-braking options – a light coast, or a heavier brake on lift off. With some cars you have to dive into a menu. Here, intelligently, you just pull the gearlever to D to swap. There’s creep at step-off in any mode, too.