Peugeot 508 RXH Hybrid4 first drive review

Tuesday, 1 May 2012 10:49 AM

Peugeot 508 RXH

The Peugeot 508 RXH Hybrid4 brings a 200bhp of diesel-electric hybrid powertrain and more rugged styling to the full-size estate car market


The Peugeot 508 is already available in saloon and SW (estate) variants, and now, with the launch of this 508 RXH, it’s available as a four-wheel drive, diesel-electric hybrid with taller suspension and a wider track to handle a little more rough stuff and low grip situations.

The 508 RXH uses Peugeot’s Hyrbid4 system, which includes their second generation Stop & Start system for the diesel engine up front, as well as a 37bhp electric motor driving the rear wheels in all-electric and four-wheel drive mode; complementing the 163bhp turbodiesel motor under the hood.

That gives us a useful-sounding 200bhp of pulling power, four wheels-worth of grip and the potential to potter around town using only the electric motor and onboard battery; emitting zero in the way of CO2 from the tailpipe.

After the usual benchmark Euro-testing, all this hybrid tech means the 508 RXH enjoys a tax-related CO2 rating of 107g/km, which makes it a bit of an eye-opener for company car drivers and fleet managers, who will buy most of them. For us private punter this low CO2 output means zero road tax for the first year and then £20 per year thereafter, and we’ll also be interested in the claimed 68.9mpg combined economy.


Peugeot 508 RXH Hybrid4 first drive review

First impressions:
Any 508 is a feast of curves, especially from the front-end, and the 508 RXH continues to flow and swoop from front to rear, but you’ll also notice the slightly wider track, or distance between opposite wheels, that’s been trimmed with flared dark plastic wheel arches, and the higher ride height.

Mix in the “bash plates” front and rear and you’ve got a more rugged look for the RXH which is partly aimed at customers that might live a little off the beaten track, but don’t need a full on SUV. Or, it can also be said to satisfy those that like their cars a little chunkier.

Other RXH highlights to note are the “lion-claw” LED driving lights below the front bumper; three each side, that shine brightly even on the sunniest of days.

All in all it’s a very clean and calm body design that’s clearly 508-distinctive from the front-end, and exudes a solid- and expensive-looking style. Still, at £33,695, we’ll be wanting some good stuff.


Into the interior:
And indeed, pretty much all of the 508 RXH interior is top-notch. There is the odd patch of disappointing plastic; on the door tops and lower dashboard, for example, but most of the important interfaces, and especially the seats, give off a nicely premium waft. This car is packed with driver aids and gizmos, too.

I found the multi-adjusting driver’s seat both handsome and comfortable, and with electric motors adjusting the seat and steering wheel, I didn’t have to except any effort to find a relaxing driving position. And the massive sunroof is a lovely touch; filling the cabin with natural light.


The drive:
The in-dash screen will display the level of available battery power, enough to waft you around in EV (electric vehicle) mode or not, and with a gentle push of the accelerator, near-silent zero emissions motoring is yours.

This would work around town in bumper-to-bumper traffic very well, but should you need more oomph, simply apply more accelerator angle and the tried and tested 163bhp HDi motor very quickly sparks into life and joins the power party to make 200bhp.

The engine and motor work seamlessly together, and when in tandem, the RXH gets a good shove right from the off. The electric motor provides truly instant torque, and that HDi 163 is definitely no weakling. The second generation Stop & Start system very quickly cuts the engine when at a stop, with the latest in starter motor / alternator tech blasting it back into life the moment it’s required.

Less perfect is the automatic gearbox’s interactions with the hybrid powertrain and it can take a little time work out exactly what it’s doing. It’s clearly no piece of cake to make two totally different engine / motor characteristics and power deliveries work in perfect harmony, and while it all comes together well enough if you simply cruise around town, letting the auto ‘box do the shifting, should you demand more pace from car and gear shifts, it can get ponderous and uneven.

The 508 RXH glides and rides around very nicely indeed, especially if you let the car do the work and make more economical cruising your driving style. Like this, you may find that the in-dash economy metre will read quite close to the claimed combined economy figure of 68.9mpg. But, drive the car hard with redline gear changes, constantly attacking the 9.5secs to 62mph sprint time, and you’ll see the economy drop to more like the early-to-mid 40s, with the 2-litre diesel engine doing much more of the work hauling the estate bodywork and big chunk of battery.

However, the same could be said for any car, and the 508 RXH wasn’t designed for racing, and regardless of mpg achieved, its headline CO2 rating of 107g/km will always hit the back of the net in terms of company car tax and road tax, and if you treat it right with your right foot, there should be fewer trips to the pricey pumps.


Ten second sum up:
The Peugeot 508 RXH Hybrid4 has a premium look and feel to reflect its pricetag, and considering its full-size and estate rear space, has one of the best CO2 ratings in town at just 107g/km. Hone your driving style to the car’s strengths and you should see some long-term economy rewards, too.


Prices and availability:
The Peugeot 508 RXH Hybrid4 range starts at £33,695, and rises to £35,945 for the Limited Edition. Available now.

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