Sunday, 5 May 2013

REVIEW - Peugeot 508 Hybrid4

Here we have another car featuring Peugeot's recent Hybrid4 drivetrain. Put simply this is a 2.0-litre diesel and a large electric motor combined to offer a greener option. This time, this technical wizardry is wrapped up in the large, executive body of the 508. I previously reviewed this car and liked it- to me it highlighted the leaps forward made by Peugeot with their current line up. I was rather looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the Hybrid4 version, but after the RXH version this model would have some living up to do...

Looks - 8/10

The 508 is a rather nice looking car. It doesn't do much for you at first, but over time you grow to appreciate just how executive looking and stylish it is. That means it's understated, and I like that. However this also means that certain elements I liked from the RXH are missing, and I liked them too. With that, you knew it was the all-singing, all-dancing hybrid model. The 508 Hybrid4 looks exactly like any other 508 in the range. Except for the badges of course. I still feel like the rear end styling looks like something is missing from the rear bumper; there are almost two cutouts where exhausts should be. Except they're not there. The front is bold and imposing, and I particularly like the headlights. For a sizeable car, the 508 doesn't look like a lump, and so credit to the designers for that.

On the inside the 508 is full of plush materials and finishes. The seats are big and comfortable like you would expect in a luxurious French saloon car. There's even a bit of the (stereotypical) madness of a French car in the layout. There are buttons to control the the heads-up display and the electronic systems. Now because there are already a lot of buttons, you will find these in a sort-of glovebox compartment at the drivers side. And just take a look at the steering wheel. If you include the up/down thumb switches, there are- and yes, I counted- 16 buttons on the steering wheel alone. Yet it's all simple and each button does exactly what you expect it to. The gloss black trim looks very high quality, and all the plastics feel premium as well.

Handling/Performance -  9/10

You should be used to this bit by now. The Peugeot Hybrid4 system has a combined offering of 200PS and 500Nm, which is put to the road via the 6-speed automated-manual gearbox. In this large and heavy saloon car 0-62mph will take you 9.0 seconds and the top speed is 130mph. Not too bad for an eco-warrior. There's plenty of power and the option to switch to Sport, 4WD, ZEV (Zero-Emission Vehicle) modes. Again I have to have a grumble about the gearbox. These automated manual boxes are becoming common-place now, because they offer much better economy than a 'proper' automatic. The problem is they're a bit more hesitant than an auto, and I found myself often reverting to the paddles, because this is easier than trying to control the gearbox with the throttle as you would normally. Thankfully the issue isn't serious, but you do sometimes notice the hesitations. The paddle mode works extremely well and offers a more engaging drive too.

On to the handling, and I was very impressed with the 508. This seemed to suffer the least from the Hybrid4 oddities in the handling department. With the large electric motor at the back the other cars I have tested seems to skip over bumpy bends and never felt too sure. The 508 never felt like this. The steering is nicely weighted, the driving position is good, and it goes round bends very well. On the motorway it is as relaxing as a good night's sleep, and on a twisty road the suspension lets you feel the road without crippling you. The biggest triumph of the 508 came in some adverse weather. With the snow piling up, and the 508 in 4WD mode, I made it home from a very remote village, over some steep and un-gritted roads with no drama at all. Kudos points to the 508 for this, as it showed the 4WD does work in reality and isn't just an extra mode for the sake of it.


Economy - 10/10

Another section you should be getting used to by now with the Hybrid4's. Now don't ask me why- I will look at you blankly if you do- but the 508 emits less carbons and does more miles to the gallon than the 3008 version. I know, it's baffling. Anyhow here are the figures. 95g/km CO2 and 78.5mpg combined. For a large executive saloon such as this, that's quite remarkable. Your road tax will be free each year, and the 508 won't bleed you dry at the fuel pumps. What's more, it won't make you hand over all your hard-earned salary to the Revenue if you choose it as a company car. Top marks!

Practicality - 10/10

Yes, another 10! Well it's not going to come as much of a surprise that the 508 is a practical car. The cabin is like none I have come across- the rear legroom is that of a small bungalow. A tall fellow would not be cramped in the back of a 508, even if another tall fellow was sat in the front. There really is that much room. The boot is a good size, although the 508 has the same loading-area drawback as every other saloon car in the world.

There are more support systems than you will ever need, and I like the parking assistance. This isn't one of the cars that parks itself. But what it can do is measure a space either side of the car to decide w
hether you would be able to fit in it. With the length of the 508, this does come in handy. With cruise control, voice control, iPod control, and probably other controls too, the 508 is more than capable of coping with the modern requirements of an executive or a family alike.

Fun - 8/10

Again, the hybrid was still a novelty at this point. In ZEV mode, watching folk jump out of your way in a panic- because they didn't hear you coming- never gets tiring. There are enough gadgets to keep James Bond happy on any length of journey, and you can put the 508 in Sport mode on the paddles and have a bit of fun- but not too much as to defeat the object of having a hybrid- on a twisty road. So as an all-rounder the 508 is good. It is never going to appeal to the hardcore petrolheads amongst us, but then fun isn't just about performance. It is fun to see puzzled looks of passers by as your car sails past silently; after they've jumped out of the way of course. It makes you smile. And regardless of how a car achieves that, the ability to make you smile is what fun is all about.

Concluding Remarks

The 508 is a brilliant car which I feel appeals most to company car users who do a lot of mileage. You won't get bankrupted by your P11d, and the economy will be kind to you on commutes. The 508 is a great cruiser too, so people who are doing high mileage will find it comfortable and relaxing. Whilst it may lack the striking styling of the RXH version, it still looks executive and brings a lot to the table. If you haven't already, then go and check out one of these Hybrid4's, because you will more than likely be impressed. For more information on the 508 Hybrid4 visit Peugeot's website, or pop in to your nearest dealer.

Total Score - 45/50

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