THE race is on for electrification. Peugeot, along with other car makers, is plugging ahead with its hybrid range and fully electrified models with the aim of being fully electrified within five years.
One of the most recent models to benefit is the racy looking 508 SW now available as a plug-in hybrid.
With a 178bhp, 1.6-litre petrol four cylinder engine plus a 108bhp electric motor, it pumps out a pretty impressive 222bhp, endowing it with punchy performance and decent economy as well as a low tax rating - particularly good news for company car drivers.
Mind you, don't expect the sort of economy you'll find in the official statistics which in the Peugeot's case is in excess of 166mpg. In our hands, we averaged just under 40mpg...quite a discrepancy then.
You'll find the electric-only range is up to 39 miles - decent enough for a local commute. After that the petrol engine takes over. Charging takes around seven hours on a three-pin plug and four hours from a Type 2 charger.
So what's the SW like to drive? First of all, it's a remarkably quiet car, not only when taking off in electric mode, but also in the normal cut and thrust of town or motorway use. The engine is pleasantly muted and there's very little road or wind noise.
Acceleration is solid rather than neck-jerking with 62mph coming up in a shade under eight seconds. Mid-range pull is ample and the eight-speed automatic gearbox generally copes well with most situations. It is, however, a bit tardy in responding to requests for a fast kickdown, such as when you exit a roundabout.
Ride and handling is up to Peugeot's usual high standards with a decent amount of road-feel being passed back to the driver. Little body roll fortunately during cornering, but good bump suppression and composed body control over undulating surfaces.
The SW is a real looker, even prettier than the Fastback in my opinion. It's more practical too with 530 litres of cargo room in the rear and up to 1,780 litres when the back seats are folded. The slopey rear end cuts down a bit of space but most will think it's worth it for those racy looks.
Plenty of standard goodies on board the GT including front and back LED lights, sat nav, keyless entry, leather seating, darkened rear privacy glass, iCockpit with low set leather covered steering wheel and electrically adjustable seats.
The cabin is distinctive and stylish yet loses nothing in usability. Plenty of soft touch plastics, well designed switches and a 12.3in screen add to the classiness of this driver focused environment.
It's fitted with six parking sensors but the rear visibility isn't as good as many estate cars due to the tapering tail which results in a relatively shallow rear window.