Peugeot 508 RXH
Sector: Upper Medium Estate Price £33,695 Fuel 68.9mpg CO2 107
Peugeot promises the new 508 RXH willoffer company car drivers a rather clever diesel-electric hybrid with the frugality of a supermini, premium-brand quality and all the practicality of a mid-sized, all-wheel drive estate car. Quite a lot to live up to then.
Based on the 508 SW, the RXH has a2.0-litre HDi 161bhp diesel engine where you’d expect to find it, under the bonnet driving the front wheels, and a 27kW (equivalent to 37bhp) electric motor mounted over the rear axle to take care of the back wheels.
The result is claimed fuel consumption figures of 68.9mpg, with CO2 emissions rated at 107g/km – adding up to a BiK tax bill of £135 per month for a 40% taxpayer. Peugeot is well aware of its corporate appeal – when the 508 RXH goes on sale in May, Peugeot has only earmarked 1,000 models for sale in the UK, with 85% of those expected to end up in the fleet market.
Pricing and trim levels are simple – the RXH fills the same niche in the 508 range as the RCZ does for the 308. So only one highly-specced derivative is available and, at £33,695, this presents the issue of it being a volume brand car with the price tag of a 5 Series or A6 estate. It’s also more expensive than the similarly sized A4 Allroad or Passat Alltrack, at the front end at least.
But demand so far has been promising. Peugeot launched the RXH in a low-volume and even more generously equipped Limited Edition version, and the 29 vehicles allocated to the UK sold out quickly.
Drivetrain aside, the recipe is fairly similar to other pumped-up estate cars. Peugeot has given its offering lots of body cladding and raised the ride height by an extra 50mm, presumably to emphasise its visual appearance as a near-go-anywhere vehicle (which, incidentally, it is), making it very handy for those with jobs that require a modicum of off-road work.
It is also kitted out with an interior of an extremely high, premium standard – it all seems to have been bolted together by someone who actually cares and knows what they’re doing. Peugeot really has made huge leaps forward in this respect.
The hybrid system, the same found in the recently launched 3008 HYbrid4, allows the driver to choose between one of the four engine management settings – electric power only, fully automated, 4WD and a sports mode – the car seamlessly switches from electric to diesel, or both, when the need arises.
So what’s not to like about this car? Well, not much, other than the way it drives. The big problem isn’t the 110kg extra weight, mostly attributed to the bank of batteries which have been secreted away under the cargo area. Nor is it the weight of the
electric motor. The burden of being this much heavier actually works in its favour; it feels much more hunkered-down to the road than its non-hybrid brother.
Where the problem lies is with the six-speed electronically controlled manual gearbox. It chooses the gear it thinks it should be in, selects it, then decides maybe it needs another, and then has a rethink, which results in it thinking it was correct in the first place and changes again. It’s jerky and tiresome and you end-up driving around the EGC rather than leaving it to do its own thing.
Peugeot will argue that the EGC unit is lighter than a ”normal” auto transmission and because it’s also more technically advanced too it’ll save over 10g/km of carbon emissions. Nonetheless, the EGC still remains the only obvious fly in the RXH’s ointment.
The 508 RXH does have its flaws, but only when being compared to other non-hybrid cars. It still delivers big savings in BiK, and until the one, definitive, alternative-fuel system car arrives this is probably the best, and most versatile, stopgap on the market.