Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt First drive: Peugeot 508 PSE SW
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First drive: Peugeot 508 PSE SW

Date: 28 June 2021   |   Author: Pete Tullin

Peugeot is convinced its 'PSE' plug-in-hybrid 508 is the car to move the brand upmarket. At the thick end of £56,000 for the estate version, the price is as lofty as the ambition.
Standard equipment:
20in alloy wheels, leather and Alcantara upholstery, four electric windows, remote central locking, powered tailgate, electrically adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, multifunction steering wheel, 8in infotainment system with sat-nav and Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity.
1.6 plug-in hybrid
Equipment grades:
8-speed auto

Peugeot reckons its 508 PSE has the style and substance to move the brand above and beyond the mainstream. If we had a penny for every time we've heard a blue-collar manufacturer trot out that little ditty we'd be sitting in Monaco, wearing mink slippers and sipping Dom Perignon from diamond-encrusted goblets.

Sure, the Peugeot Sport Engineered (PSE) plug-in hybrid is a feisty bit of kit, thanks in no small part to 360hp and 384 ft-lb of torque, generated by its 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine working in tandem with a pair of electric motors - one upfront and one at the rear. 

Select the most aggressive Sport mode (there are five to choose from, including electric-only and all-wheel drive) and you'll unleash a forceful 0-62mph time of 5.2 seconds. 

That's quick enough to grab anyone's attention and no doubt progress would be even more vivid were it not for the PSE's substantial 1,875kg kerb weight. That said, even with helium bags fitted, the performance wouldn't get close to the similarly priced Tesla Model 3.

While an eight-speed automatic handles the engine and front motor's power delivery, voltage for the electric motors comes from an 11.5kWh battery, giving a potential all-electric driving range of 26 miles at speeds up to 86mph. 

This explains why the PSE is capable of a theoretical 138.9mpg with CO2 emissions of just 46g/km, which, in turn, equates to a BIK rate of 13%. 

Of course, you'll need to ensure you have a full battery to get anywhere near those mpg figures, but the good news is it takes less than a couple of hours to charge the battery from a 7.4kW home wall box, while a three-pin supply will top matters up in around seven hours.

No doubt, Peugeot would argue the PSE 508 is a better driving machine than the Tesla 3 and more multi-dimensional, thanks to three-mode adaptive dampers, boosted front/rear tracks and a 50% increase in spring rates over the standard 508. 

Add in four-piston Alcon brake calipers, dustbin-lid sized discs, 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in tacky, low-profile rubber and you have enough stopping and cornering power to give your stomach muscles a proper workout. 

Despite the assistance of that rear electric motor and some aggressive suspension geometry, the inertia produced by the PSE inherent porkiness can't entirely be disguised. Consequently, although the chassis and sticky tyres generate plenty of lateral grip, you will sense a degree of hesitancy before the body reacts to steering inputs in higher speed corners. 

You'll also need to be carrying quite a bit of speed and be travelling over some elegantly surfaced tarmac to reap the benefit of the firmest Sport damper setting. Forget to select a more forgiving mode when driving at lower rates over crustier surfaces and the dampers will cause the body to squirm in so many different directions, it will make your head swim. 

Those big wheels and skinny-walled tyres also take their toll on refinement, emphasising every surface transition and transmitting excessive levels of grainy vibration into the cabin. This is even more obvious when driving over antiquated concrete surfaces, producing so much high-pitched resonance, various trim panels begin to chime in with their own vibey renditions.    

Speaking of fixtures and fittings, PSE highlight include a deep front bumper and a rear diffuser, containing a pair of smoked chrome exhausts tips as well as plenty of lurid green detailing, both outside and in. 

The slinky SW estate is expected to be the more popular of the two body styles on offer (there's also a snazzy looking saloon) and with 530 litres of boot space, it's pretty practical, too. It comes with a powered tailgate and a 360-degree camera, which is just as well, as the combination of that sloping roofline and substantial rear headrests do an exceptional job of restricting rear visibility.

Plush leather and Alcantara seats are standard but unfortunately so is Peugeot's i-Cockpit.

There no doubting how well this flashy looking layout is received in showrooms, even if some of the plastics are rather basic in places and the infotainment screen is a bit of a monkey puzzle but when driving, the visual clash between the top of the steering wheel and main instrumentation binnacle is verging on the ridiculous. 

Forcing anyone under 180cm to sit with the halfpenny sized steering wheel resting on their laps to have half a chance of viewing the main instrumentation, it remains a mystery how Peugeot's design department ever convinced its ergonomics team that this was a good idea.

Peugeot 508 PSE SW 

P11D: £55,740 

Residual value: 29.3%

Depreciation: £39,414

Fuel: £5,364

Service, maintenance and repair: £3,342

Cost per mile: 80.2p

Fuel consumption: 138.9mpg 

CO2 (BIK %): 46g/km (13%)  

BIK 20/40% a month: £121/£242

Luggage capacity: 530 litres

Engine size/power: 1598cc 4cyl petrol engine, two electric motor/combined power output 360hp


  • Strong performance
  • Useful-sized boot
  • Plenty of standard kit
  • Price is hard to justify
  • Compromised refinement