All-New Peugeot Models To Get High-Performance Versions
360 horsepower, plug-in hybrid technology, high-end image, the 508 PSE will play the role of a locomotive at Peugeot, to relaunch the 508 and perfect the image of the manufacturer as a high-end generalist.
Large black rims, fluorescent yellow inserts, small “foils” on the sides like the Vendée Globe boats, at first glance, the Peugeot 508 PSE throws it in. Today the most powerful vehicle in the range, this “Peugeot Sport Engineered” version (the manufacturer’s new sports label) must above all bring performance to the generalist high-end brand of Stellaris. And not just with lap speed records. His goal: to complete Peugeot’s move upmarket and, in the process, to boost sales of the 508.
From the appearance of the concept two years ago at the Geneva Motor Show, an event more oriented towards luxury, to its presentation by Carlos Tavares himself at the opening of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in summer 2020 until testing press organized on the Sarthe circuit, the message is clear. Peugeot can play in the yard of German brands. But with a French twist.
360 hp in plug-in hybrid
While premium brands traditionally compete with powerful engines (BMW M340i, Mercedes C43 AMG), Peugeot is playing the plug-in hybrid card to offer a GT (Grand Touring), model. The Peugeot 508 PSE is indeed equipped with a 1.6 petrol engine of 200 horsepower and two electric motors (one in front and the other at the rear). The whole offers him 330 to 360 horsepower at most. A figure necessary for credibility but unattainable in recent years for Peugeot without the electric boost.
The car was developed by a very small team at Peugeot Sport, which also links its development to the sporty Peugeot, from rallying to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Peugeot Sport director himself achieved very sustained speeds across the Rhine on these sections of the motorway without limitation to test the performance. In sport mode, the 508 PSE can indeed reach 250km / h and 100km / h in just 5.2 seconds. To play in the premium court, you have to accumulate the numbers, not bad here, about a second away from the German competitors.
Apart from its looks and a couple of sharp acceleration or two, the intrinsic difference in the behavior of the PSE with the classic 508 plug-in hybrids that we had already tested, however, did not jump out to us. With a starting price of 67,100 euros for the sedan, almost 17,000 euros more than the classic plug-in hybrid version, that is the whole question.
Relaunch the 508 sedan
Peugeot does not hide it: the 508 PSE should indeed represent no more than 5 to 6% of the sedan’s sales or 2,500 to 3,000 vehicles per year.
From there to wonder if this model is not just a beautiful dancer? “PSA would not produce a model that is not profitable, continues our specialist. Without knowing the details of the margins, with a price difference of 20,000 euros between a classic Peugeot 508 plug-in hybrid and the sports version and 10,000 euros in development costs, the difference remains positive, even with fairly low additional volumes “.
Because through the PSE image, the entire 508 range must shine again. “We want to relaunch sales of the 508”, replies Jean-Philippe Delaire, project manager at Peugeot Sport. Sales of the large sedan were indeed halved last year, admittedly in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. From 59,900 units in 2019, sales fell to 32,194 cars sold worldwide last year. More than 17 days of a shutdown at the Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin) plant, where the 508 is operated alongside the DS7 Crossback, are already scheduled for the first half of the year.
To attract customers, the Peugeot Sport Engineered brand will have dedicated points of sale, and eventually outings, invitations to form a community of customers. After the 508, Peugeot plans to launch other PSE models. And among them, an electric model is quite possible.