I always applaud efforts by car makers to try something that moves at least part of their range out of the ‘mainstream’ even if it doesn’t always work out. The RCZ-R from the French manufacturer is a fine little sports car for example but is, alas being, deleted from the catalogue. That’s a shame and a sign of the times. The Peugeot 508 RXH is another example; it is the company’s effort to add a premium ‘all-roader’ model to the range but sadly it doesn’t quite come off.
I wanted to try the full RXH; that’s the one with Peugeot’s Hybrid4 technology – of which more below – but such was the underwhelmed reaction from motoring journalists at launch in 2012 that the company did not have one available for me to test. I ended up with the version you see in the pictures which is simply a front-wheel drive estate car.
The RXH has some mechanical changes over the standard 508SW: it rides 50mm higher and has a 40mm wider track than the standard estate, allegedly making it more capable off-road. The trouble is, without the extra traction provided by four-wheel drive that isn’t really the case. Sure, thanks to the extra height it’ll manage a rough track better than the standard car but that is about it.
RXH And Hybrid4
The diesel/electric model hybrid technology has been shown to work well on the excellent 3008 Hybrid4 so there’s no reason to assume it won’t work on this big estate car. The diesel engine powers the front wheels and electric motors drive the back. The system is controlled electronically so there’s no need for a 4×4 type transmission tunnel, making the rear seats comfortable for three.
The car will travel briefly on electric power alone and the batteries are topped up by regeneration and aided by Stop/Start. There’s no plug-in option. Combined, the Hybrid4 delivers over 200bhp giving the car some punch along with the extra traction that a 4×4 set-up provides by way of a ‘Drive’ mode selector. I can’t comment on how it drives for the reason stated, so back to the tested car.
The Inside Story
A full-length panoramic sunroof offers spectacular aerial views, while the well-crafted fittings and the adjustable heads-up display imbue the cabin with a very smart, modern, airy feel. The seats are comfortable and supportive with – bonus points here – adjustable seats squabs for extra support beneath the thighs. There’s ample electronic seat and steering adjustment to fit all sizes. The high ride gives the driver a commanding view of the road ahead. As mentioned there’s plenty of room in the back for three.
I approve of the dashboard layout which is clean and uncluttered. Many functions are available though the seven-inch touchscreen which offers up all the usual facilities like CD, DAB, Bluetooth, cruise, navigation and such, plus hidden 12v and USB plugs should the need arise. I had to hunt for a while to find the adjustments for the heads-up display which are tucked away beyond the driver’s right knee. Buyers of the 508 RXH also have the peace of mind that comes with Peugeot’s Connect SOS And Assistance at the touch of a button. All of this kit comes as standard as there’s only a three model range and two of them are Hybrids.
Look At It This Way
The Peugeot 508 RXH is a sleek and handsome beast that offers an imposing road presence. It has that premium look. At just shy of £31k for the tested version, it doesn’t have those prestige touches of, say, an Audi A6 Allroad but then it is way cheaper. The front end is characterised by distinctive LED daytime running lights which look great. Additionally, there’s heated, folding door mirrors with Blind Spot Warning, satin chrome roof rails and a RXH specific exterior styling pack that includes wheel arch and sill extensions plus aluminium front and rear scuff plates. Overall the car has a look of class that makes a statement at the kerb.
The rear hatch opens electronically (thank goodness; it is massive) but regrettably what it reveals is a bit of a disappointment. With the seats up there’s only 400L of luggage space available which compares badly with other similar sized estate cars. The boot is well-shaped though and there’s a space-saver spare under the floor.
There’s plenty of power on offer from the BlueHDi 2.0L diesel which comes with 181bhp and 295lb.ft of torque but the manner in which it is delivered is lacking because the auto gearbox is a touch slow-witted. It’s not that bad and I expect that most users will be entirely content; I just wished for sharper shifts to aid crisp acceleration. Mostly I spent my time in Sport mode which delivers the full power promise of the engine augmented by the steering wheel paddles. This livened up the drive no end and, for a tall car, the body is well-controlled through the bends. So, a decent driver then, given its size.
The Peugeot 508 RXH is a comfortable, quiet cruiser on the go and even some of the rougher roads didn’t really intrude on the ride. Parking sensors and a reversing camera made parking easy and, with a five star Euro NCAP rating, you can rest assured that all the safety kit we have come to expect is present and correct. Economy officially is around 60mpg but I only managed 40mpg overall, no doubt in part due to my penchant for the Sport mode. The tested car emits just 119g/km of the nasty stuff so taxes won’t be too bad.
Good Buy Or Goodbye?
I have to be honest; the car as tested here in the standard front-wheel drive diesel-only version is fine but I don’t know what it’s for. I don’t even know why it is offered at all. That extra bit of height notwithstanding I don’t see why buyers would go for this car when they can get a regular 508 SW for several thousand pounds less.
The Hybrid4 makes much more sense and should maybe stand alone. If you’re up for a big estate car that has the extra traction to cope with rainswept roads and the occasional muddy track then it might well suit. It is certainly a comfortable car that is perfectly fine, although not exciting, to drive and it looks fab; certainly worth adding to the station wagon shortlist.
I would much prefer however if Peugeot deleted this car and retained the angelic little RCZ-R sports job which is a blast to drive and doesn’t overly despoil the planet. And I still don’t know what RXH stands for. Geoff Maxted.