What is it like on the inside?
Peugeot’s big claim is that the batteries and motors of the PSE are placed so that they don’t eat into the 508’s limb and luggage space. Phew. Because this sits at the pokier end of the posh saloon market, with the devilish good looks on the outside resulting in slender windows and a slightly dark, claustrophobic feel inside. For the PSE, everything is broadly trimmed in grey or black, with occasional flashes of green to match the exterior accoutrements.
The 508 just asks of a bit more effort from its occupants than any of its more strait-laced German rivals. Its button layout feels unfathomable on first acquaintance, but like an Indonesian jazz-fusion album – that takes a dozen listens to really get into – maybe the lack of convention is what some of the 508’s wantonly ‘different’ buyers actually dig.
The dinky steering wheel remains a crowd-splitter. As a rule, those under 6ft tall tend to acclimatise to it quite quickly, and it certainly lends the 508’s dynamics an additional bit of zing. What’s more annoying is that the dials behind it – hugely customisable, with six different layouts – aren’t the fancy 3D holographic ones you get in the little 208 hatchback. A brand-new, 50-odd grand technological halo shouldn’t have its UI gazumped by a cheaper range-mate.
Get used to the curious layout – not least having to use sub-menus to choose how much regen you want from the brakes, or what temperature the air piped out by the climate control is – and there’s a lot to like in here. The big enveloping sports seats are ace and come with a massage function boasting five settings (with three levels of intensity apiece). Handy if your local spa hasn’t opened back up out of lockdown.
Perhaps inevitably, its flashes of its chintz occasionally feel a touch superficial. Frameless windows, which electrically buzz up and down an inch as you open and close the doors, bring a touch of exotica to a saloon or estate car. But given the rear doors have a fixed quarterlight of glass that stick crudely up, it could be accused of being skin-deep glamour.