Peugeot 508 PHEV Sportswagon: Forget sensible

Peugeot 508 GT PHEV Sportswagon 6

What is it?

The Peugeot 508 has been on sale in Australia since July 2011.

A mid-sized sedan or station wagon, it fitted into the space between the smaller 407 and larger 607, effectively replacing both cars.

The current (second generation) 508 arrived here in August 2021, only available in top-grade GT equipment level and featuring Peugeot’s first-ever plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain. 

The previous petrol-only variants were dropped from the range at the end of 2022 leaving just the more-expensive PHEVs.

Peugeot 508 GT PHEV Sportswagon 7

What’s it cost?

As has been the case throughout, two body styles are offered: Fastback sedan and Sportswagon. 

Although our test car, the Sportswagon, is marginally longer than the Fastback both share the same low, sleek profile with frameless door windows adding to the coupe-like appearance.

The relatively small chequered radiator grille has chrome edge trim with the iconic Peugeot Lion symbol in the centre and 508 lettering above it at the front of the bonnet.

There are twin headlights on either side above long curved turn indicators.

‘GT’ badges on the C pillar complete the car’s ID.

The fuel filler is on the right rear panel and the battery charge point on the left.

Display is through a configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument panel in front of the driver and a 10.0-inch high-definition touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard.

Embedded 3D satellite navigation is standard including voice recognition.

There’s also smartphone mirroring for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both wired) as well as two USB sockets in the front centre console and two more in the rear console, plus 12V sockets, including one in the boot.

Sound is through a FOCAL 10-speaker premium system with dedicated amplifier and subwoofer.

DAB digital radio is available for those who live in areas where it can be received.

The 508 PHEV scores five stars for safety, with six airbags; enhanced ABS brakes; dynamic stability control; camera and radar activated emergency braking; blind spot detection; adaptive cruise control with stop and go function.

There is also lane departure warning; lane keeping assistance with road edge detection; driver attention alert; automatic high beam; IsoFix child seat mounts in the outer rear seats; speed sign recognition and speed limit warning; forward collision warning; electronic anti-skid system; and 180-degree rear-view camera.

All Peugeot passenger vehicles come with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty extended to eight  years, but limited to 160,000km, on the battery.

Peugeot 508 GT PHEV Sportswagon 4

What’s it go like?

Interior space in the front is good, not to the extent of similarly sized SUVs but enough for reasonable occupant comfort.

Rear seat space is borderline with just enough legroom, but restricted headroom for taller passengers. 

The 508 comes with the latest version of the Peugeot i-Cockpit which combines the small sport steering wheel with a large head-up instrument panel and central infotainment touch screen, blended together and ergonomically positioned.

The seats are quilted Nappa leather throughout. Both front seats are powered, heated and have a multi-point massage function.

While there’s a physical volume button and a row of piano style keys immediately underneath that provide quick access to various functions, the temperature controls are digital and either side of the touchscreen.

Boot space in the Fastback is 487 litres with all seatbacks in place, expanding to 1537 litres with them folded.

Sportswagon increases these capacities to 530 and 1780 litres respectively. 

A powered tailgate is standard in both variants.

The 508 PHEV combines a 133kW 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine with an 11.8kWh Lithium-ion battery and 81kW electric motor mounted on the front axle for a combined power output of 165kW.

Both variants are mated to an all-new Aisin eight-speed automatic transmission.

Getting into the 508 for the first time, the cabin and driver’s seat feel a little cramped.

The low-slung styling can make it a bit awkward for taller occupants but it’s a sporty-ish car so that’s to be expected.

Once seated though the seats are comfortable and supportive. 

Although the small squared-top sports steering wheel isn’t to everyone’s taste we loved it not only for its feel but also because it provides an unobstructed view of the digital instrument panel.

One of our least-favourite features in most new releases is lane correction which automatically adjusts the vehicle’s steering, often quite vigorously, to keep it in the centre of the lane.

While we normally turn the feature off before we start our test, we found the correction in the 508 quite subtle and were more than happy to let it do its job.

We love driving electric cars with their sharp, smooth and silent acceleration and the 508 PHEV provides plenty of that when it’s in EV mode.

Out on the open road the 508 is in its element with the ride and handling that has always made Peugeots so popular with keen drivers.

The GT tag is used far too often in current cars and in most cases is meaningless.

Not so in the 508 GT because it is far closer to being a Grand Tourer capable of cruising long distances through interesting drive routes. 

Ride and handling are excellent, but it’s more of a touring car than a sports machine.

With an 11.8kWh battery capacity, the hybrid offers an electric only driving range of up to 55km (WLTP), which is could be enough for urban commuters.

Having said that, the best we could manage, in fairly moderate driving conditions, was 44km. 

Like all the other plug-in hybrids on the market that offer pure EV driving, Peugeot lists a totally unrealistic fuel consumption figure of 1.8L/100km for the 508.

With the battery fully-charged we covered 100km using 3.4L. 

Although that’s nearly double the listed figure it’s still very good.

However, with the battery expired, and running in normal hybrid mode including battery regeneration, we averaged a less-impressive 6. L/100km.

Peugeot 508 GT PHEV Sportswagon 5

What we like?

  • Stylish
  • Superbly-crafted
  • Powered tailgate
  • Satellite navigation standard
  • Ride and handling are excellent

Peugeot 508 GT PHEV Sportswagon 3

What we don’t like?

  • Expensive
  • Wired CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Rear seat space is borderline
  • Temperature controls are digital
  • Unrealistic fuel consumption figures

Peugeot 508 GT PHEV Sportswagon 1

The bottom line?

Peugeot 508 is a superbly-crafted and stylish car that drew admiring looks wherever we went. 

But there’s much more because if you’ve had enough of the functionality and sensibleness of SUVs and crave a bit of driving enjoyment, then the Peugeot 508 could be just what you’re looking for.

However, unless you can conveniently maintain a charge in the battery and limit the distance travelled, we feel the extra $17,000 that you now need to pay for the PHEV over the now discontinued, petrol-only equivalent GT just can’t be justified.

Peugeot 508 GT PHEV Sportswagon 8


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Peugeot 508 GT PHEV Sportswagon, priced from $82,915
  • Looks - 9/10
  • Performance - 9/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 7/10

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