Yikes, Peugeot Sport has made a 400bhp hybrid 508 | Top Gear
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Yikes, Peugeot Sport has made a 400bhp hybrid 508

308 R concept donates its outrageous performance to a 4WD sports saloon. Be excited

Published: 21 Feb 2019

While performance SUVs may currently be ‘the thing’, the sports saloon isn’t dead yet. In fact this Peugeot 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered suggests it’s very much being futureproofed.

It’s a Geneva Motor Show concept that previews the next Peugeot Sport model. Following the excellent 308 GTI and exquisite 208 GTI, it has quite some shoes to fill. With its petrol-electric drivetrain offering 400bhp, it sounds like it ought to manage.

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That comes from a combination of a 197bhp 1.6-litre turbo four and 110bhp electric motor operating on the front axle, and an additional 200bhp motor driving the rear axle. So yep, it’s four-wheel drive, ensuring all of that horsepower should be put to reasonable use.

It all sounds reminiscent of the drivetrain that powered the rather spiffing Peugeot 308 R Hybrid, a near-500bhp hot hatch that sadly never made production. But if this 508 does, the 308 R didn’t die in vain.

Indeed, much of the tech is carried over. While the 308 R offered its full 494bhp output for launch control starts, it operated with a 400bhp limit the rest of time, and that’s what this 508 sticks to. So while all of its power sources add up to an AMG-like 500bhp, they’ll only ever add up to 400bhp in actual use, and only when you’ve prodded it into the sportiest of its four drive modes.

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Not that you should worry. It offers similar performance to the 308 R – with a limited 155mph top speed and 0-62mph in 4.3secs – but with a proper WLTP-certified 49g/km of CO2 emissions. ‘WLTP’ is shorthand for ‘actually quite realistic’, don’t forget, and it suggests Peugeot’s actually put this car through proper testing. Confirming its probable production. The 508 PSE will also do 31 miles on electricity alone, which that 308 R couldn’t claim.

With almost twice the power of the next 508 down, there have naturally been some tweaks. There's lower, wider, adaptive suspension, 20in alloys shrouding dinner plate Peugeot Sport brakes (doubtless with regen abilities) and a whole new aero package, with various flaps and winglets helping it better carve through the air. Because future, some of that’s even 3D printed.

All the batteries are stored beneath the rear seats, but we’re promised there’s still the same amount of room for actual people back there. It looks proper plush inside, too, with much carbon, Alcantara and ‘Kryptonite’ stitching. We assume they mean the lurid green colour rather than the made-up material from the movies.

Quite how much of this is production-plausible we don’t know, but almost everything about the 508 PSE looks and sounds pleasingly real, and we suspect it’s only a light bit of carbon and winglet removal away from being showroom ready.

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Indeed, those winglets haven't actually been tunnel tested yet. It might turn out they don't work or are illegally pedestrian-imperilling, in which case they'll be erased. "They looks fast," says Peugeot Sport boss Bruno Famin, "and that's important". He also tells Top Gear that the production car will have slightly less power than the concept but still total "350 horsepower plus or minus 10, and the performance target is the Audi S4."

We could see that as early as 2020, with an estate version probable, too. We’ve loved everything Peugeot Sport has made so far, so with a whole heap of extra power and a driven rear axle, we’re pretty excited for this. Are you?

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