Peugeot 508 Hybrid performance, engine & drive
The 508 Hybrid isn't quite up to BMW standards of driver involvement, but it's a comfortable and enjoyable car nonetheless
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As with the non-hybrid version of the 508, the Hybrid is generally a good car to drive once you get used to its unconventional feel. You sit low behind a high dashboard and grip a small steering wheel – all of which add a sporty feel to things – but the 508's general demeanour is more sedate and comfort-orientated.
There are a number of driving modes to pick from, intended to get the best out of the 508's hybrid system in different situations. You're likely to spend much of your time in 'Electric' or 'Hybrid' mode. In the former, Peugeot says you should be able to keep going for 36 miles on power from the car's 13.2kWh battery alone without waking the engine. Doing this, the 508 is extremely smooth, quiet and relaxing to drive – a sensation enhanced by good ride quality, even on large 19-inch alloy wheels.
In 'Hybrid' mode, the 508 behaves more like one of Toyota or Honda's 'self-charging' hybrids, deciding itself whether to use electric or petrol power, or mix the two, in order to make progress as efficiently as possible. You can also hold on to battery charge until you want or need to use it – when you enter an urban area, for example.
Peugeot 508 Hybrid 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration
The powertrain combines a 108bhp electric motor with a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine for a total of 222bhp, so the 508 feels brisk, if not blistering. There are a number of driving modes to select, and in 'Sport' the full power of the car is unleashed. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 8.3 seconds, but the car feels a little peppier than that figure suggests thanks to the continuous torque offered by its electric motor.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox isn't the smoothest-shifting transmission we've encountered, but this 508 can still take off like a hot hatchback when you put your foot down thanks to the torque-filling nature of its added electric power.
The added benefit of electrification here is that the electric motor helps to smooth out the gaps in the gearbox's slightly clunky delivery. There's a good deal of vibration and noise when you do so – in general, the system could feel better-integrated – but fortunately the engine is much quieter when driven more sedately.
If you're after something slightly more potent but no less practical than the regular 508 Hybrid, there is a Peugeot Sport Engineered (PSE) version of both the saloon and estate. It uses the same 1.6-litre petrol engine paired with two electric motors for a total output of 355bhp. To find out more about the Peugeot 508 PSE click here.
Like the rest of the 508 line-up, the Hybrid is enjoyable to drive, and there isn't a strong sense of it being a lot heavier (300kg) or less agile than its purely petrol and diesel-engined counterparts. It cruises comfortably, grips well in corners and overall inspires plenty of confidence on the road.
It's not the last word in entertainment or refinement, however – for that it's best to consider its slightly more expensive BMW 330e rival, which offers a better combination of these traits. Still, the 508 is great to drive in its own way, just perhaps not as engaging for keen drivers.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe Peugeot 508 plug-in hybrid executive car is a good effort, hitting all the right notes for company users – but it seems too expensive for private buyers
- 2Range, MPG, CO2 & chargingAs with all plug-in hybrids, getting the best fuel economy from the 508 Hybrid depends on keeping the battery topped up; CO2 emissions are low
- 3Running costs & insurancePlug-in hybrid tax breaks mean the 508 Hybrid makes a lot of sense for company-car users; strong warranty offers great peace of mind
- 4Performance, engine & drive - currently readingThe 508 Hybrid isn't quite up to BMW standards of driver involvement, but it's a comfortable and enjoyable car nonetheless
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThe 508 Hybrid's interior is a showstopper and you'll be happy to spend lots of time in it
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityStriking styling and a rakish roofline don't dent the 508 Hybrid's practicality too much; nor does the battery
- 7Reliability & safety ratingAs with all Peugeots, the 508 Hybrid is very safe and should be built to last, but the reliability of its new drivetrain is largely unproven