The 508 is Peugeot’s answer to the tricky question of how you convince buyers to invest in a big French car. It replaces the unloved and 407 and the slow-selling 607, aiming to fill a gap somewhere in between, just like the Mondeo and Insignia. As a result it is a big family car at just under 4.8 metres in length.
Peugeot’s efforts to take the 508 upmarket have been largely successful. If there is one thing that Peugeot is particularly good at currently it is interiors, and the 508 adds weight to this with high quality materials and a pleasingly simple but effective design, including an integrated display in the top section of the dashboard which can keep you informed about what the HYbrid4 system is doing.
Given that Peugeot has to take a great deal of the credit for mainstreaming diesel engines, it is fitting that it is the first manufacturer to launch a diesel hybrid. The system is an elegant engineering solution; the front end of the car is standard, the electric motor drives the rear axle. This means it is easy to integrate into existing models.
The system combines a 163bhp 2-litre diesel engine with a 37bhp electric motor to provide a combined total of 200bhp; the torque output is equally impressive with 332 lb.ft. on tap. The system has 4 modes – Auto, Sport, 4WD and ZEV. Sport provides maximum performance, ZEV provides a very limited pure electric range and 4WD works because the motor that powers the engine start/stop system can also act as an alternator guaranteeing electric drive even when the battery is low.
The 508 is decent to drive, looks good and has a great interior. The HYbrid4 system gives it a unique selling point and makes the EGC gearbox more bearable as the electric motor fills in the gaps during slow gear changes. The downside is the price; it is well specified but it remains a lot to pay for a big Peugeot.