First Drive: 2021 Peugeot 508 PSE SW Review

The first fast Peugeot to carry the new 'Peugeot Sport Engineered' badge...
13th April 2021
Henry Biggs



Despite the recent news of the demise of the Mondeo, the saloon and estate car sectors don’t seem to be quite dead yet despite being buried under the ongoing compact SUV avalanche. Peugeot in fact was once famed for its fine handling, practical and handsome saloons and estates, typified by the 405 and 406 and larger 505 and 506 models which earned a reputation for unstoppable toughness.

So, despite a recent focus on the ‘double-zero’ crossover models in its range, we were very pleased to see a honest-to-goodness Peugeot estate (or station wagon in the company’s parlance) and one with a great deal of swagger. It is also the first of the new Peugeot Sport Engineered line of performance hybrids and as such comes loaded with an S-class sized helping of tech, as well as expectation.

We like

  • One of the best looking cars on sale
  • Confident and fun handling
  • Absolutely loaded with tech

We don't like

  • Technology pushes up the price
  • Some counterintuitive functionality
  • The rear is tight on space



The proliferation on our roads of lumpen SUVs has undoubtedly lowered our styling expectations but the Peugeot 508 SW is, arguably, one of the best looking cars currently on our roads. The saloon-esque five door was a revelation when it was revealed and extending the roofline has only enhanced the car’s looks. For a relatively compact car it has a great deal of presence from the sabre-tooth DRLs extending down from the headlight to the multidimensional textured grille, pronounced arches and large diamond cut alloy wheels. Those wheels are a mammoth 20-inch and fill the arches precisely, helped by wider front and rear tracks. 

The winglets on the sides of the sills and flanking the front and rear bumpers are perhaps a touch too much and the Peugeot Sport Engineered corporate colour of metallic lime green when combined with the sinister dark grey of our test car did bring to mind a Monster Energy can. But it was always deserving of a backwards glance and it certainly garnered a lot of positive attention, even among the rarified metal usually parked at Goodwood Motor Circuit.

Performance and Handling


Like the 3008 Hybrid4 300 we tested recently, the Peugeot Sport Engineered 508 range-topper uses hybrid power to up its game, in this case pairing a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol four-pot producing 200PS (147kW) and turning the front wheels with an equally powerful electric motor acting on the rear axle. Combined the two motors’ output is 355PS (265kW) and 520Nm (384lb ft) which is good for a 0-62mph sprint of 5.2 seconds and top speed of 155mph. In truth the car’s weight, upped by the inclusion of a 11.5kWh battery pack to 1,875kg, means it never feels like an off-the-line firebrand but the electric torque has been programmed to come in to great effect, particularly in Sport mode. The result is very rapid feeling in-gear progress and a sense of eagerness between bends that brings to mind a hot hatch that’s grown out of its more hooligan tendencies.

The handling, while it will never be a match for pointy Peugeots of old is confident, surefooted and well tied down. Damping response and roll rates have been well judged to make fast, twisting A-roads an entertaining prospect and a joy missing to drivers of higher riding ‘sport’ utilities. The small steering wheel that goes with Peugeot’s i-cockpit necessitates a high level of steering assistance so there is little sense of what the front wheels are doing, but it is direct and accurate and the car itself is a handy size and feels compact within a typical country lane. And of course the battery pack comes into its own once back in town with a quiet cruising range of up to 26 miles. A braking mode in the eight-speed gearbox ups the regen effect and increases engine braking making the car very smooth to drive when not in a hurry. 



The Peugeot Sport Engineered colour scheme continues inside the car with the same lime green used on the virtual dials, as an accent colour on the touchscreen and used as a contrast stitch colour. There are even three little slashes on the bottom of the quartic-style steering wheel. This follows the Peugeot i-cockpit principle of being positioned well below the instrument binnacle so you look over rather than through it. In the 508 with its lower seating position this was easier to get used to than in the high-riding 3008 but it always felt somewhat counterintuitive and the wheel’s size means the controls stalks are hard to see, making the multifunction cruise control almost impossible to use without learning the buttons by heart.

That said, the position of the wheel, the high mounted instrument binnacle and sloped centre console do create a cockpit-like feeling for the driver with all controls angled towards one and within easy reach. The main instruments are well designed with some flashy graphics and half a dozen different modes to choose from. The central touchscreen is likewise high-mounted and swift to respond to inputs although the row of switches below the screen looks at first glance like they relate to on-screen options above them rather than being used to select high level options.

It is on the whole a well laid out and handsome interior with useful touches such as a deep bin between the front seats, a wireless phone charging spot under the centre screen and elegant looking materials, even if some of them don’t feel quite as substantial. Rear seat knee and head rooms could be better, some space has been robbed by the battery pack but the boot easily accommodated a large dog who appreciated not having to scramble inelegantly into the back of an SUV.

Technology and Features


The 508 PSE SW HYBRID4 360 e-EAT8 4WD, to give the car its full title, is as well blessed with technology as it is names, much of it usually the preserve of models at a much higher price point. Indeed, some of the standard technology packed by the Peugeot is not even able as an option on rivals from BMW, Audi or Mercedes including multi-mode massage seats and a night vision system which projects an infra-red interpretation of the road ahead into the main instrument panel.

You will not be wanting for safety, security or comfort oriented technology but some of it can be hard to find within the menu systems and can result in information overload as the car attempts to alert you to yet another issue it has identified. There are also some curious UX choices evident; there is a clever option by which the driver can choose to force charge the battery pack and ringfence a certain amount of electric-only range for city traffic. However this defaults to off even after switching off for as short a time as a refuel and requires a number of steps to reinstate. By contrast, the heated seat function stays at the present level even after an overnight stop.



There are some cars we have on test that we are a little sorry to see leave. Not necessarily the supercars or the luxobarges but often the cars that feel like they make sense on both a functional and emotional level. The 508 PSE is one such car; capable, practical, in station wagon form, with all the advantages and none of the drawbacks of an SUV wrapped up in a frankly badass looking package. There is a fairly large ‘but’ however and that comes at the price: £55,795 as tested, which, given that all the tech comes as standard is effectively the only price. Would we take a stripped down version with all the looks and performance but a bit less bling for a lower price tag? Absolutely yes.


Engine 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid
Power 355PS (265kW) @ 6,000rpm
Torque 520Nm (383lb ft) @ 3,000rpm
Transmission Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive
Kerb weight 1,875kg        
0-62mph 5.2 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 138.9mpg
CO2 emissions 46g/km
Price £55,795