Things are good again at Peugeot and the brand is celebrating in style with a 360-horsepower sports-saloon – say hello to the new hybrid Peugeot 508 PSE
It’s nice to see things picking up for Peugeot – 2019 may not have set any sales records but the French called it a year of consolidation. Obviously no one banked on a virus screwing up 2020, yet Peugeot is still on track for its big 2023 comeback in the US market after retreating back across the Atlantic in 1991. Until then, the Yanks can only look from afar and wonder. Stuff like this new 508, the most powerful production Peugeot ever, will only spur the anticipation.
Peugeot is experiencing a bit of a revival of the aggressive sort of styling we used to see from brand, cars such as the 505, legendary 205 hatchback, and 405. With a styling department led by Gilles Vidal (who’s just jumped ship to Renault), a bunch of young designers fresh out of Peugeot’s own academy were responsible for premiering a new label, Peugeot Sport Engineering, or PSE. What N is to Hyundai, and M is to BMW, that sort fo thing…
A decade ago when Vidal took over, the first thing he did was the SR1 concept, a flashy coupe that started a new look at Peugeot, and the ugly memories of old cat-fish grilles soon began to fade away. Since then Peugeot has done a bunch of neat cars, and the latest 208 in particular is grabbing a lot of attention. The awesome e-Legend concept also paid hommage to classic Peugeots like the Pininfarina-designed 504 Coupe, suggesting more good stuff is on the way.
For now let’s stick with PSE – the company’s new performance division is launching with a four-wheel drive hybrid sports saloon (also available as an estate in select markets). The Peugeot 508 PSE, the most powerful car from the brand ever, utilises a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine worth 200 horsepower, and an electric motor integrated into the gearbox boosting the total to 360 horsepower. This is good enough for zero to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds and a top speed limited to 250km/h.
Compared to the standard 508, the PSE version is wider and lower, with big 380mm brakes up front and 20-inch wheels all round fitted with Michelin sports tyres. The plug-in hybrid tech means the 508 PSE can do around 40km in zero-emissions mode, and five driving modes provide an option for every mood. The French promise some enthusiastic handling courtesy of Peugeot Sport engineers, and you can expect a full suite of kit on board including stuff like a head-up display, night vision, adaptive cruise control, 10-inch screen, and plenty more.
Peugeot could’ve easily taken the easy way out and launched yet another coupe-SUV or hotted up crossover, but the French stuck to their guns with a good old sports saloon which we here at Motormouth can appreciate. The added complexity and cost of a hybrid powertrain is necessary, since Peugeot plans to offer a completely electrified line-up by 2025.
We miss the days when seemingly every manufacturer out there offered a Touring Car racing-inspired version of an otherwise staid family car, and this Peugeot brings back nice memories. Let’s hope affordable sports saloons become a thing again.