2,870 miles into its life, and James Folkard is pleasantly surprised at how little time the 508 SW is needing to spend at the fuel pumps.
What image do you get in your head when you picture a large estate car with a 1.6-litre 110bhp engine, with low emissions of 110g/km, which can, in theory, achieve 65.6mpg? Slow, sensible, or even boring? Does micro-hybrid technology make you think of men in white coats and petri dishes? Well I think I’m right on both counts, as you couldn’t possibly be thinking of our new 508 SW.
I’ve had the Peugeot just over two months now, and while you will see I haven’t been economising on the miles, I have spent remarkably little time at the pumps. Now this is not down to driving everywhere at a steady 56mph, or because the 508 has an enormous fuel tank buried in the back; it’s because of the hugely effective frugal tweaks stuffed under the bonnet of the big estate.
Since I was feeling a bit ignorant about all of the technology employed in our 508, I’ve carried out a little bit of research in the past month. The micro-hybrid system is specific to the e-HDi stop and start engines. The battery takes over from the engine and powers all the auxiliary items in a car such as air-conditioning, lights, radio and so on when the engine shuts down. It also needs to be able to start the engine up again with the blink of an eye, or in the case of the 508, the time it takes to transfer your foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator. It’s termed micro-hybrid, because the ‘hybrid’ technology doesn’t actually propel the car itself, it is powering all the other bits that don’t stop when you pull up at traffic lights. I am in no doubt that this technology is a real fuel saver, and over the next few years is probably set to become as commonplace in cars as air-conditioning is today. Its installation in the 508 is probably the smoothest and most unobtrusive stop-start system I have experienced, but am yet to be convinced that it needs to go on my list of ‘must haves’, when you take into account my usual journeys. That said, I’ve taken the 508 on a good few long journeys, too. From Leamington Spa we have been to Swindon, Gatwick, Poole and Manchester to name just four, and on none of these journeys have we saved more than a few seconds (there is a counter on the dashboard) by having the engine turn itself off. I did save four minutes once, and that was in a queue several miles long when we went to the International Air Tattoo a few weeks ago. We queued to get parked up, but because it was all start stop, start stop, so was the engine – in fact it must have started and stopped around 100 times – surely this is potentially causing more wear and tear than saving four minutes worth of diesel with the engine ticking over? Only time will tell whether the system is durable enough to sustain this kind of use, and it will be interesting to see the state of play once the car is five or six years old, and onto the second or third owner.
While it took a few days to get used to, I’m sold on the concept of the automated manual gearbox, despite needing some adjustment to my driving style. It does the clutch part for you, though what the gearbox doesn’t do is lift off the accelerator as it presses the invisible clutch pedal for you. If you failed to lift off in a manual gearbox, you’d get the sound of high revs and soon end up with a burning smell from the clutch, together with a severe case of jerkiness. With the EGC gearbox, you just get the jerky part if you don’t lift off. Drive the car with more sympathy, anticipating when the gear change will happen by lifting off the throttle, and the jolting disappears, as if by magic.
And the ECG gearbox has other benefits too; by driving it in a more relaxed and soothing manner, you end up reaping rewards at the fuel pumps too. We’re yet to get close to the official fuel economy figures just yet, but as most of our driving is short journey, urban motoring, the disparity is to be expected.
|Peugeot 508 SW Active 1.6 e-HDi EGC|
|Price when new:||£21,975|
|Price as tested (including options):||£24,890|
|Optional extras:||Bluetooth telephone facility with audio streaming, electric folding door mirrors and rear parking aid, half leather trim, load restraining net, metallic paint and Peugeot Connect navigation, SOS and assistance, with colour head-up display|
|Engine:||1560cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel|
|Transmission:||6-speed electronically controlled manual|
|Power output:||110bhp at 3,600rpm|
|Maximum torque:||199lb ft at 1,750rpm|
|Maximum towing weight:||1,400kg|
|Fuel consumption:||65.6mpg (official combined)44.2mpg (on test)|
|CO2 emissions (Taxband):||110g/gm (B)|
|Benefit in kind tax liability:||13%|
|Size (Length/width with mirrors):||4,813/2,068mm|
|Boot space (Minimum/maximum):||512/1,598litres|
|EuroNCAP safety rating:||5 stars|
|Date arrived:||13th July 2011|
|Mileage to date:||2,780miles|
|Costs to date:||None|
|Faults to date:||None|