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Peugeot 508 e-HDI 112

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Peugeot 508 Active e-HDI 112

Model/Engine size: 1.6 e-HDi micro-hybrid Stop and Start with EGC

Fuel: Diesel

Fuel economy combined: 67.2 mpg

Beating Spirit rating: 7/10

The Peugeot 508 Active e-HDI 112 was fresh from taking part in the RAC Future Car Challenge, but could it cope with the challenge of driving to Clocaenog Forest in North Wales to see Wales Rally GB, where the RAC Rally last visited back in 1996?

The Peugeot 508 Active e-HDI 112 can officially manage 67.2 mpg along with emissions of 109 g/km CO 2
. This is impressive for a car of this size.

The 508 is a front-wheel drive saloon, with a powertrain optimised for economy. It has a 1.6-litre, 112 bhp turbodiesel engine, and the e-HDi micro-hybrid label means that it has Peugeot’s Stop and Start System, which is a great help in getting the emissions down.

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It looks reasonably modern and stylish on the outside, possibly more so from the back than from the front, and the interior design and quality are both good. The car comes with lots of buttons on the steering wheelfor functions ranging from volume to cruise control.

At £21,050, it’s not as expensive as some rivals, and for company car drivers, the 109 g/km CO 2
means that the BIK rating is just 13%. Another bonus is the potential driving range on a full tank, which could be up to around 1000 miles.

So the Peugeot 508 Active e-HDI 112 makes a lot of sense as a company car. It’s comfortable enough for trips up and down the motorway when it will also be efficient.

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So overall, the 508 Active e-HDI sounds like it has some good selling points.

However there’s one particular aspect of the car that we’re not keen on, and that’s the gearbox. It has an Electronically Controlled Manual Gearbox, known as an EGC.

This means that there’s no clutch, and it changes gears by itself. But it’s not a fully automatic, as the changes aren’t seamless. In fact it feels like there’s a very long pause between the gear changes. If you’re accelerating at the time, this pause is extremely pronounced.

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You can override the automated gear change by using the paddles behind the steering wheel. This improves the gear change experience, because at least this way, being in control, you can predict when the gear change is going to happen. However this somewhat defeats the point of having an automatically-shifting gearbox, and the change is still slow, especially when compared to transmissions such as Volkswagen’s DSG technology.

The Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 also has the same gearbox, but in that car the electric motor steps in during the gear change and provides power, and this transforms the gearbox, as you can hardly notice the gear change. Combining the electric motor with the EGC must have worked for us, because we awarded the 3008 Hybrid4 a very rare Beating Spirit rating of 10 out of 10. Unfortunately in our view the EGC gearbox, without the electric motor assisting with its changes, really lets the 508 down.

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The stop-start system, whilst being excellent for keeping down the car’s emissions, does seem rather over-keen to shut the engine down, which it does even when in the midst of changing between forward and reverse gears, which isn’t great when in the process of activities such as parking. We’d prefer a system that senses that you’re changing gear and keeps the engine switched on in this situation.

We also found the 508’s engine to be somewhat on the noisy side, especially on start-up, and there are competitors’ cars that are more refined overall.

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Three more powerful diesel engines are available in the 508, predictably with higher emissions, as well as two petrol units.

There are five trim levels in the range: Access, SR, Active, Allure and GT. Entry-level Access models have features such as air conditioning and electric windows. SR models have alloy wheels, cruise control, Bluetooth and sat nav. Active and Allure have extra equipment but, strangely, no sat nav. GT is the highest spec.

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So how did the 508 fare on its drive to the Wales Rally GB in Clocaenog Forest in North Wales, where the RAC Rally last visited back in 1996?

As we know, the 508 is a front-wheel drive saloon, with a powertrain optimised for economy. With a relatively large front overhang and steering that doesn’t have great amounts of feel, its handling isn’t particularly sharp, yet it also has a firm ride that isn’t particularly cossetting, in fact it can be somewhat crashy over potholes. Combined with the slow-to-change EGC gearbox, it wouldn’t be our preferred means of transport for twisty and hilly North Wales roads. However the 508 did return 52.2 mpg overall.

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And as anyone who used to visit the RAC rally in locations such as Clocaenog will know, it’s not just the North Wales tarmac that spectators’ cars have to contend with. There’s often a foray into the forest tracks required in order to park the car, and this year’s Wales Rally GB seemed to take this to a new level, involving a form of extreme off-road challenge for spectators. Never before has such a distance of off-road driving on muddy forest roads been needed to spectate at a rally, and this showed that the 508 is hardly the ideal car for such a challenge. Perhaps it’s no surprise that such an eco-saloon doesn’t have the levels of grip, steering and braking to provide confidence in such slippery conditions; its eco-friendly tyres aren’t likely to help. The cars competing in the rally, most of which were front-wheel drive Fiestas, appeared to handle themselves better (although more boringly than the Group B cars back in 1996) on the forest tracks than the Peugeot.

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Summary

So the 508 scores well for its economy and low emissions, but for us it certainly loses marks for its EGC gearbox. On balance, the result of all this is a Beating Spirit rating of 7 out of 10.

However, you should be aware that a 508 may well be scoring another 10 out of 10 on this site in the not-too-distant future. This is because the Peugeot 508 RXH is due within the next year. Yes, this is still a 508, but it’s the estate version, and it will feature the diesel-hybrid powertrain from the 3008 Hybrid4. This means that it is forecast to share the same 109 g/km emissions figure and the 67.2 mpg as the 508 Active e-HDI, but rather than having just 112 bhp, it will instead have 200 bhp Ц and torque of 450 Nm. It will also have a zero-emission electric mode, as well as the promise of the electric motor again filling the pregnant pauses between gear changes. However, of particular interest to us, bearing in mind our experiences of having to drive through a very muddy North Wales forest, the 508 RXH will have also four-wheel drive capability Ц now that is a 508 that we really can get excited about.

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Paul Clarke

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Fuel economy extra urban:74.3 mpg

Fuel economy urban:57.6 mpg

CO2 emissions:109 g/km

Green rating:VED band B – First year £0

Weight:1410 Kg

Company car tax liability (2011/12):13%

Price:£21,050

Insurance group:21

Power:110 bhp

Max speed:122 mph

0-62mph:11.9 seconds

DPF: Yes

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See the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 road test

Keywords: Peugeot 508 Active e-HDI 112 review, Peugeot 508 Active e-HDI 112 road test