new 508 showcases the latest plug-in hybrid and driver assistance systems
Words: Colin Overland and Chris Chilton
PLUG IN to get 25 zero-emission MILES
The look will be the same, but its capabilities quite different when the 508 Hybrid joins the range in autumn 2019.
Available as a fastback and SW estate, the plug-in 508’s only external differences are the extra rear filler flap and the badge. Under the skin, however, is an 80kW electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack, helping deliver near-silent, zero-emissions running for up to 25 miles.
The electric motor works alongside the 1.6-litre petrol engine; together they’ll generate 222bhp in this cleanest and most fuel-efficient 508. CO2 emissions will be less than 49g/km.
Aude Brille, Peugeot’s head of brand strategy and experience, says: ‘We offer technology when there’s a customer benefit. It’s about integrating technology, not showing it off. Everything is conceived to be practical, but a good experience too.’
The battery can be charged from a normal domestic supply, or from a fast charger in a couple of hours. During driving, the engine can top up the battery, and there’s a setting that holds the level of charge, so the driver can save electric-only running for later in a journey.
But that aside, the experience should be similar to any other new 508: front-wheel drive, a choice of driving modes, and the same classy interior – though with the i-Cockpit screens relaying key hybrid information if selected.
Why now? Peugeot has waited until the charging infrastructure is sufficiently established, and demand is growing from both private buyers and fleets. And it’s about offering choice.
‘Freedom is a DNA of the automotive sector. You want a petrol engine, diesel or hybrid? It’s possible with us,’ says Brille.
It’s also a step on Peugeot’s journey towards full-electric power – keeping the 208-year-old brand relevant. ‘It’s a huge change. But as a manufacturer we were there before – and we will be there after.’
BUILT-IN VALET PARKING
Peugeot offers two automatic parking assistance systems on the 508. Both Visio Park 2 and Visio Park 3 come with a 360-degree camera, but differ in how much assistance they offer.
Manual-transmission cars get VP2 (£450) which will sort out those complicated angles and deal with the steering while you juggle the pedals. VP3, available only on automatic transmission-equipped 508s, does the lot.
To activate the £600 VP3 system press the ‘parking’ button at the base of the gear selector as you approach a potential space, then select the type of manoeuvre (perpendicular or parallel) on the screen. When the car signals it’s found a spot, follow the screen prompts to activate the indicator and select neutral. Now press and hold the original parking button again, and don’t let go until a message confirms you’re tucked neatly into that bay. Easy. The hardest part is not braking as the 508 closes in on surrounding cars.
see in the dark with night vision
Once a headline feature on Merc’s S-Class, Peugeot has democratised dark ’n’ dangerous detection with Night Vision on the 508.
Typically a £1300 option, the key component is a nose-mounted infrared camera that relays an image on the i-Cockpit’s instrument display. To activate Night Vision, select it from the menu using a steering wheel scroll button.
Capable of scanning the road ahead far beyond the range of the headlights, the system is able to evaluate the threat posed by different hazards. A pedestrian walking safely along the pavement, for instance, is surrounded by a yellow box on the screen. But someone stepping into the road in the distance is flagged up in a red box, and, if things are looking really dangerous, joined by a red warning triangle and an audible beep. But the car won’t brake in response: that’s down to the driver.
Active Cruise Control monitors and adjusts the distance between you and cars ahead. It has trickled down from high-end cars to the mainstream: the 508’s advanced system is in Drive Assist Pack Plus, £400 with most automatic ‘boxes.
All 508s get lane keeping assistance and emergency auto braking but DAPP actually keeps your car not just in its lane but centred too, while the cruise control is a full stop-and-go system. Find stationary traffic on a motorway and the 508 will stop itself, then pull away again when cars begin moving. You can go hands-off, but are asked to touch the wheel every 10-15 seconds.
Manual 508s can still get ACC, but this system only works down to 18mph.