4.2 out of 5 4.2
Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2

Peugeot’s return to performance models is different from before, but beautifully executed

Peugeot 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered (21 on) - rated 4.2 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £53,995 - £53,995
Lease from new From £867 p/m View lease deals
Used price £33,695 - £35,965
Used monthly cost From £841 per month
Fuel Economy 139.0 mpg
Road tax cost £480
New

PROS

  • Looks incredible
  • PHEV allows for low running costs
  • Impressive performance
  • Great fun to drive
  • The future of fast Peugeots?

CONS

  • Dashboard is an acquired taste
  • Needs a full battery for best experience
  • Expensive to buy privately
  • Driving position won’t suit everyone
  • Interior tech could use an upgrade

Peugeot 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered rivals

Written by Tom Wiltshire on

Peugeot may be best known at the moment for its impressive roster of practical and handsome SUVs, but step back in time and the company has considerable pedigree in performance cars – particularly all-time greats such as the 205 GTI.

The new 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered (or 508 PSE) marks the beginning of a new direction for fast Peugeots – one that embraces the hybrid and electric future we’re inevitably heading towards, and one that cements the French brand as serious competition to premium rivals from Volvo, BMW and Audi.

The 508 Sport Engineered is based on the standard 508, and is available as a fastback (saloon-shaped but with a hatchback boot) or an estate that's badged SW. As a performance-brand plug-in hybrid, the competition is numerous and varied, but Peugeot pitches it as a rival to cars such as the Audi S4, BMW M340i and Volvo S60 Polestar.

It also functions as a flagship for the Peugeot brand, sitting at the top of the 508 range and being, by some margin, the most powerful and expensive car the company’s ever sold. An impressive 360hp is presented through the plug-in hybrid combination of a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol and an electric motor on each axle, giving the 508 PSE four-wheel drive.

The real changes are to the chassis, though, where Peugeot’s really gone in all guns blazing to help the 508 handle like a true performance saloon. Adaptive dampers and wider tracks (the distance between the two wheels on each axle) plus upgraded brakes and tyres all look very impressive on paper.

And to top it all off, the PSE gets a gorgeous exterior makeover, lending some real character to what was already a very sporting-looking car. With 20-inch alloy wheels, lowered sports suspension and some attractive aerodynamic additions, it really stands out. It’s available in a trio of monochrome paint colours, but all are accented with the same acid green hue, called Kryptonite.

This review covers the 508 Sport Engineered in its Fastback and SW forms. You can read our reviews of those cars in their standard forms here:

Peugeot 508 review
Peugeot 508 SW review

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Charging and range 

The key appeal of a plug-in hybrid performance car is that when you need to use your vehicle for less glamorous pursuits – school runs, supermarket trips, or even a traffic-laden daily commute  noise-free electric motoring is just a button-press away.

Peugeot claims the 508 Sport Engineered will cover 26 miles on battery alone, which is at the lower end of what we’d consider useful. In the real world, that’s likely to be around 20 miles, which isn’t fantastic when you consider the Volvo S60 Polestar and BMW 330e will easily cover 30 miles before needing to be plugged in.

Charging the 508’s comparatively small battery is very quick, though. A standard three-pin domestic socket will give you a full charge in seven hours, so plugging in overnight is easily done. The 508 also supports 7kW charging from a home wallbox or public charger, where a full charge takes less than two hours.

Your charging habits will very much affect your fuel economy, which according to official tests is a scarcely-believable 139mpg or so. Clearly, the more you charge and use electric power, the less petrol you’ll burn.

Make the most of the 508 PSE’s performance – which is ample – and economy will tumble. We saw just over 30mpg after a 160-mile day of mixed mileage, starting with a fully-charged battery and topping up halfway through the day. That's not a bad figure considering the performance on offer.

It’s possible to charge the battery on the go, and Peugeot allows you to ‘save’ 6 miles, 12 miles or the maximum 26. This is best reserved for an emergency, though, as it really chomps through petrol.

Interior 

The 508 PSE’s interior remains, as with the standard 508, an acquired taste. That’s due in the main part to its unusual layout – one that Peugeot terms ‘i-Cockpit’.

By shrinking the steering wheel and raising the dials over the top of it, the 508 PSE forces you to adopt a driving position that for some will feel as though the wheel’s in their lap. It takes some getting used to, and it’s often taller drivers who report the most concerns. However, this tester’s 6’3" and can get comfortable very easily.

A test drive is essential to ensure you get on with this arrangement, but don’t be afraid to play around with the driving position.

The Sport Engineered tweaks have given the 508 some rather lovely sports seats, which are set lower than the standard items and really hug your body well, supporting you in the corners. Grippy Alcantara upholstery helps here too, though it would be nice if this extended to the steering wheel which is shod in the same slightly slippery leather as the regular car.

Interior highlights are in the same Kryptonite acid green as those outside, and look fantastic. It’s a little annoying that the accent lights around the cupholders and doors are still an electric blue, though…

Another frustration is that the 508 isn’t equipped with Peugeot’s latest digital dial pack as found on the 208 hatchback and 2008 crossover. It’s understandable, as the standard 508 won’t get this upgrade until its mid-life facelift, but it is a little annoying that the brand’s flagship car doesn’t have as up-to-date a system as one of its smallest models.

Everything else inside is similar to the standard car, which means you get adequate space up front but a very tight back seat in terms of leg and head-room. The boot is large, though, relatively unsullied by the hybrid additions and accessed through a huge, wide-opening tailgate.

Running costs 

There’s no getting away from the fact the Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered is a pricey car. With a starting price of more than £53,000 (over £55,000 for the SW estate variant) and finance plans likely to be correspondingly juicy, this is going to be a really tough sell for private buyers.

As a company car it makes a lot more sense, thanks to very favourable rates for plug-in hybrids. It sits in the 13% BIK band. That means a yearly bill of £1,402 for 20% tax payers.

It’s also worth noting Peugeot includes loads of equipment – the only real options are two shades of paint and a panoramic glass roof. Spec a BMW 330e up to a similar level and you won’t see much difference in price.

As for day-to-day running costs, fuel economy will depend on your charging behaviour as mentioned earlier. The low first year tax figure gives way to a hefty supplement for the following five years, due to the car’s list price.

Driving 

The 508 Sport Engineered is the most powerful production car Peugeot has ever built. It uses a 200hp 1.6-litre petrol engine up front, as well as an electric motor on each axle. This gives the car a total of 360hp, mostly sent via an eight-speed automatic gearbox to the front wheels while the rear motor endows it with four-wheel drive when needed.

At the start of every journey the 508 PSE defaults into electric mode, and like most of its kin there’s really very little to dislike about it. The two motors have plenty of power as well as the instantaneous response and silent operation of all electric cars.

There are four other driving modes – Comfort, Hybrid, Sport and 4WD. It’s Comfort and Sport you’ll probably be using most of the time as these are very well-judged for regular driving when you need to and having some fun when you can.

The switch between power sources is nearly seamless, and there’s little of the jerkiness you get in a Volvo S60 Polestar - though the engine does get rather vocal if revved out. Let the car choose by itself and it’s remarkably relaxing to drive, aided by a ride that, while firm, is very well-judged for the UK’s pockmarked tarmac.

Of course, the 508 Sport Engineered’s real appeal is to be found in Sport mode. It’s here where Peugeot’s pedigree shows through – it’s always had a knack for making ordinary cars very good to drive, and the PSE takes that and runs with it. The result is brilliant.

It’s a pleasure stringing corners together in this car, with accurate steering and a degree of compliance from the chassis that shows the engineers didn’t just stick some rock-hard suspension on it and call it a day. Body control is exceptional for such a large car, and there’s loads of grip – but put the boot in and it can be playful too.

It inspires a great deal of confidence when driving quickly, is more characterful than its competition and yet never becomes uncomfortable in the process. What’s most surprising is how much like a hot hatchback it feels to drive, despite being a family-sized fastback.

There’s more than enough shove to make the most of that brilliant chassis, too. Put your foot down with a fully charged battery and the 508 PSE will leap from 0 to 62mph in just 5.2 seconds, going on to a top speed of 155mph. The electric motors provide lightning-fast response through the rev range, filling in the gaps left by the combustion engine’s power band and ensuring you have power wherever and whenever you want it.

Read on for our verdict...

Peugeot 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered rivals

Other Peugeot 508 models: