Musings on the Motoring World

Peugeot 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered – Long Live the Prince!

Who would have foreseen BMW and PSA’s love-child, the “Prince” engine is still soldiering on in 2020? That’s not all. Despite BMW moving onto its own engines, the 1.6-litre Prince is still the top petrol option of PSA’s model range. And now it is used to power the company’s new performance flagship, the Peugeot 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered.

Essentially a Peugeot 508 “GTi”, the hotted-up sedan and wagon models boast 265kW and 520Nm of twist. If you are familiar with the Prince engine you’d be wondering how Peugeot could flog any more power out of it. Never mind having eight consecutive Engine of the Year awards, the little blown engine was already straining its tiny pistons delivering 200kW for the 2014 RCZ R.

A Hybrid boost

The answer to that is applying some hybrid tech to the equation. After teasing so many hybrid concepts, as Peugeot is wont to do, the company has finally delivered. The 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered would be its first production hybrid performance model.

Hybrid augmentation comes in the form of two electric motors that are mounted to the front and rear axle. Though Peugeot doesn’t detail how much power comes from each electric motor or the Prince engine’s power output.

With the aid of its electric motors, Pegueot claims that its big cat can do the 0 to 100km/h sprint in 5.2sec. Whereas, the 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered’s battery pack is able to deliver 42km of all-electric range, according to the WLTP cycle. That last bit is enough to give the 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered an all-important official CO2 emissions figure of 46g/km.

Breaking the hybrid threshold

The 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered is a welcome surprise. The model was supposed to make its debut in close-to-production concept form at the cancelled 2020 Geneva Motor Show. Even then no one was sure if Peugeot was going to follow through considering the state of the world’s economy and PSA Group’s merger with the listless FCA.

Not to mention other companies have tried and failed to create a hybrid performance model at the lower end of the market. Most notably Ford, which had to cancel its fourth-generation Focus RS due to cost overruns. Granted, the Peugeot 508 model is not exactly aimed at budget-conscious folk.

The eternal Prince

Props have to be given to Peugeot for utilising the Prince engine to great effect over the last 14 years. For such an old engine you would think that the company would have found a replacement by now. Not as though there is a need for one. With Peugeot and Citroën making bank with its small models, its 1.2-litre 3-cylinder engines would suffice as its bread-and-butter offering.

Produced from 2006, the Prince engine was originally developed as a joint project between BMW and the PSA Group. BMW wanted a small engine optimised for front-wheel-drive applications for its MINI sub-brand, whereas PSA had the volume to make up the numbers for the engine’s production.

The pairing was a suitable partnership and the Prince engine that resulted was a well-received engine. It was a smooth operator and quite economical in its time. Did I mention it won eight International Engine of the Year awards for its category?

The engine wasn’t without its problems as customers started reporting timing problems, soot build-up, and rough idling with the engine. By 2013 BMW turned to a new range of downsized engines derived from its B58 straight-six engine for MINI and its smaller models instead. Thus, leaving the PSA with the beloved, but the oftentimes troublesome engine.

No need for a successor

It isn’t as though the PSA Group will need a replacement for the Prince engine anytime soon either. The company had recently extended its useful lifespan with a Euro 6 compatibility upgrade under the new “PureTech” branding. Even so, it is uncertain what the future holds for big models like the 508 and 5008. The former is in a shrinking segment, so resource-allocation for a succession plan would be low on the agenda.

In addition to those circumstances, with Western Europe trying to ban internal combustion engines every other day, Peugeot has wisely moved onto hybrid and electric solutions. With engines taking a back seat to electrified drivetrains, we wouldn’t expect to see the sweet Prince retiring anytime soon.