Peugeot 508 HYbrid4

5 Nov, 2012 11:00am Jamie Fretwell

We get behind the wheel of the clever but expensive diesel-electric Peugeot 508 HYbrid4 saloon


The Peugeot 508 HYbrid4 saloon is an impressive piece of engineering, and you won’t have to pay road tax. However, the batteries encroach into the boot space, the slow gearbox is frustrating and the car’s far from cheap. The standard 508 saloon with 1.6-litre diesel and identical spec returns a claimed 67mpg, has a bigger boot and costs £7,450 less.

We’ve already tested the jacked-up 508 RXH HYbrid4 estate, but this is the first time we’ve tried Peugeot’s standard 508 HYbrid4 saloon.

So is it a more compelling choice? Both use the same 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine and electric motor, while the saloon produces just 95g/km of CO2, so it dodges road tax and benefits business users, too.

The 508’s steering is nicely weighted and direct, but as in the RXH we tested, the six-speed automated manual gearbox spoils the experience. Take manual control with the shift paddles, and you can smooth out changes with a well timed lift of the throttle. But shifts are jerky in auto, and the box is slow to kick down when you want to overtake.

Once you do find a gear, acceleration is fairly rapid, thanks to 450Nm of torque. However, floor the throttle, and the smooth power delivery quickly turns harsh. Take it easy and refinement is pretty good, and the suspension soaks up bumps with ease.

Power for the front wheels comes from the engine, while the electric motor drives the rears, so you have the safety net of four-wheel drive. Twist the dial to ZEV mode, and the 508 becomes a silent, rear-wheel-drive electric saloon capable of up to 40mph – for a couple of miles at least.

Without the RXH’s body cladding, the 508 looks smart and understated, but we miss the aggressive look of the claw-like LEDs on the RXH. And while the 18-inch alloys are stylish, this doesn’t look or feel like a car which costs £31,450.

The boot floor hides the batteries well, but there’s no room for a spare wheel, which is replaced by a repair kit. There’s 118 litres less boot space than in the standard saloon, at 335 litres, but luggage goes in easily, thanks to a large opening with no lip.

Rear-seat passengers in the 508 will appreciate the absence of a transmission tunnel hump, and those up front benefit from electric leather seats fitted as standard. There’s only one trim level, but it’s well appointed, with dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, parking sensors and cruise control.

Disqus - noscript

Even PSA engineers loath that auto transmission.

Really? Because we have one in a C4 GP and love it. Also know a couple of other folks with the EGS and they're very happy with it too. Don't knock it till you've tried it.

I have tried the EGS gearbox in the past it is rubbish even (very!) dangerous because of the lack of any response when it is needed most. It is the worst gearbox by far in the whole auto-industry even worse than the geartronic from Volvo.

Buy a Lexus/Toyota hybrid instead if you want to drive hybrid, or just stick to a diesel 508/diesel Audi or Passat instead.

Peugeot is way behind in engineering compared to other manufacturers, no wonder they lose money on a massive scale!

I agree with Ab. You won't find a press report that doesn't slate that transmission.

The EGS transmission takes more time to learn than the average road-tester cares to spend on their work. It's not an automatic transmission, it is truly semi-automatic, but once learned it is very good.

The real problem with the automatic diesel offerings for the 508 is their performance. The gentle increase in speed achieved by pushing the loud pedal all the way through to the tarmac cannot be called "acceleration" without defying trhe Trade Descriptions Act. There is no safe way of maintaining speed without the same sort of hair-raising tactics as were employed by French speed-freaks trying to keep their Citroen 2CV in front of cycling nuns and OAPs on Space-hoppers. (OK, I'm exaggerating: I've never been a nun nor a Space-hopper pilot, but I have driven all the varieties of Citroen flat-twin powered vehicle.)

Key specs

  • Price: £31,450
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, plus electric motor, 200bhp
  • 0-62mph/top speed: 9.0 secs/130mph
  • Economy/CO2: 78.5mpg/95g/km
  • Equipment: 18-inch alloys, heated front seats, Bluetooth, DAB radio
  • On sale: Now