Thanks to that electric running (which is up there with the best in the plug-in hybrid class for range), emissions are as low as 29g/km and bring impressively low company car tax, too.
Ignore the fantastical claimed economy figure of over 200mpg; as with any PHEV, the 508 is economical only if you plug it in routinely. Do just that and you could enjoy virtually zero fuel costs if you only do short journeys, or if you do high mileage and rarely plug it in then you may as well buy a diesel car instead as the Peugeot will do around 40 to 45mpg in normal driving with the 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine burning dinosaurs all the time. If you like the idea of diesel economy with pure electric running, the Mercedes C300de is the only option in this class, but – as with the BMW 330e - it’s much more expensive to buy than the Peugeot.
So, is the Peugeot 508 plug-in hybrid really as good as it seems? In many way, yes. Even the entry-level Allure trim gets a 10-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system, digital drivers display, traffic sign recognition, semi-autonomous braking, keyless entry, reversing camera and sensors, heated front seats with partial electric adjustment, auto lights and wipers, cruise control and more. More expensive trims bring features like leather upholstery and full LED headlights, but you really don’t need more than is offered in the base Allure model, which is our pick of the bunch.
It makes for a seriously impressive interior, too. The digital dials are very futuristic looking, the materials feel tactile and classy, and the whole thing looks more interesting and stylish than the simpler, if equally upmarket-feeling interior in the Skoda Superb iV.
There are some quirks in the cabin, though. Peugeot uses a small steering wheel that you have to set quite low since the digital speedo and readout is viewed over the top of the wheel rim. It’s the same on every Peugeot, including the 3008 Hybrid. Some drivers will love it, some may struggle to find a natural-feeling position, so make sure you can get comfy with the Peugeot’s unusual cockpit layout.
Two adults in the back will be comfortable enough but headroom may be a little tight in the 508 fastback – which is basically a car with a hatchback boot despite having more of a saloon silhouette. Certainly, if you value practicality then the Peugeot 508 SW Hybrid is the one to go for, as it gets more rear headroom and of course a usefully larger boot. It’s the depth and useful square shape of the 508 estate’s boot that will be the biggest benefit, as the 508 Fastback still gets a fairly good-sized boot with plenty of floor space to take a chunky buggy, but the rakish roofline cuts into boot space and makes it quite a shallow boot.
It’s not quite as comfortable as those other rivals, either. Even on the 17-inch alloy wheels of Allure, ride comfort can be a little busy and the 1.6-litre petrol engine is a little noisier when it kicks in, but by any measure the 508 Hybrid is still a lovely car to drive. The 108bhp electric motor allows it to run up to motorway speeds without waking up the petrol engine, and in this pure electric mode it feels nippy enough that you’re unlikely to need or want to accelerate any harder.
Stick the 508 PHEV in hybrid mode and it shuffles between the petrol and electric power sources, with the eight-speed automatic gearbox keeping shifts smooth. There aren’t any unexpected pauses or lurches in power delivery – it’s all very easy to predict, and you can make fairly seamless progress without giving much thought to what the car’s doing.
It’s not the sort of car that you get up early to drive, and a BMW 330e is certainly better to drive if you are looking for something with an enthusiastic edge. Rather, the front-wheel drive only 508 Hybrid is a relaxed, tech-focussed place to enjoy low running costs in a really striking-looking executive car. Ultimately, the looks of this car are going to be one of the chief reasons you opt for it over its less suave yet roomier alternatives.