The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder
Big hybrid estate saves at the pumps but not in the showroom
Pros
Impressive economy
Quality construction
Quick-release rear seats
Cons
Fidgety ride and poor body control
Drivetrain noise
Price premium

Peugeot 508 RXH Hybrid4 estate review (2012-on)

The Peugeot 508 RXH is an interesting alternative to the likes of an Audi A6 allroad and Volvo XC70, mixing estate car space with some off-road ability and, unusually, diesel-electric hybrid power

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What is the Peugeot 508 RXH?

SUVs such as the Nissan Qashqai and new Mazda CX-5 are taking a growing slice of the family/recreational market but Peugeot clearly believes there’s still a future for the butch-looking estate car for people who appreciate a sportier profile, selectable four-wheel drive and good luggage capacity. And in case they need further persuading, it’s thrown in an electric motor for extra power and greener motoring.

The RXH sits above the 508 SW estate range, a solid £6,000 more expensive than the similarly specified, non-hybrid, 508 SW 2.0 HDi Allure. The former has a claimed combined fuel consumption of 68.9mpg compared with the latter’s 49.6mpg. Even so, you’d have to do a lot of miles to justify the Hybrid car’s higher price.


Search for and buy a used Peugeot 508 RXH estate on driving.co.uk


Rivals to the RXH include the Volvo XC70 (From £32,795) and considerably more expensive Audi A6 Allroad (from £43,805). That said, the RXH feels and looks more of an executive car than, like the Volvo and the Audi, one with added go-anywhere ability. There’s just one, well-equipped model. From the available options, only metallic paint (£550) is worth the extra.

The drive

Three things strike you immediately about the RXH. First, its rotary transmission selector on the centre console between the front seats. This is how you select the various driving modes: Auto, Sport (for faster gear changes and more power), 4WD (the electric motor drives the rear wheels) and ZEV for low-speed, electric-only power (good for around two miles).  Selecting Sport has a startling effect since not only does the gearbox now make changes at higher speeds, but the electric motor is also brought into play boosting power and, because it drives the rear wheels, traction.

The second thing to strike you is the power indicator graphic in the instrument cluster that tells you what power source is being used and whether the battery is being replenished by the engine or by regenerative charging when, for example, the car is coasting.  Third is the silent running on electric power which can occur unbidden at manoeuvring speeds and, if there’s enough juice in the battery when you select ZEV. Yes, there’s a lot going on in the RHX.

 

Sometimes, too much. For example, there’s an audible thump at low speeds when the car changes power source from diesel to electric, or vice versa. It’s not a good advertisement for hybrid technology.

The ride feels pretty busy, too. Thanks to its electric motor and batteries, the RHX is no lightweight (1910kg) which means the suspension has a lot of unruly mass to deal with. The car’s ride is fidgety and unsettled on all but the smoothest roads. It’s quite bouncy, too, and rather than taking potholes in its executive stride, it simply crashes and thumps into them.

Meanwhile, all that weight blunts the car’s performance. In Sport and under normal spirited driving as when, say, overtaking, the RXH feels lusty enough, but slam your foot to the floor to join a fast-moving motorway and it fails miserably. The gearbox’s hesitancy between changes doesn’t help. But the RXH does at least corner confidently and steer accurately, especially with Sport selected.

The interior

peugeot 508 rxh review

A generous specification and fine cabin materials are the order of the day in the RXH. There’s a plethora of dials and switches but they’re all nicely crafted and sensibly presented. The multi-media screen is large and easy to navigate. There are neat touches such as the way the read-out in the head-up display changes colour according to power source (white for diesel, blue for electric). And there’s lots of standard equipment including a glorious, full-length panoramic sunroof.

However, possibly because of interference from the electric motor we found that FM radio was plagued with interference (a note accompanying our test car explained that AM was not available for this reason).

The back seats have a clever, spring-loaded release so you can collapse the seat backs with one tug of a lever. However, although the resulting load space is plenty long enough, it’s actually surprisingly shallow because of the need to accommodate the car’s underfloor batteries.

The one to buy

Peugeot 508 RXH diesel Hybrid4 estate

Factfile

Price:
£34,145 (correct at first publication)
Engine:
1997cc, 4-cylinder diesel; electric motor
Power:
163bhp @ 3850rpm (diesel); 37bhp (electric)
Torque:
225 lb ft @ 1750rpm (diesel); 147 lb ft (electric)
Transmission:
6-speed automatic
Acceleration:
0-62mph in 9.5sec (8.8sec in Sport mode)
Top speed:
132mph
Fuel:
68.9mpg (combined)
CO2:
107g/km
Road tax band:
B
Dimensions:
L 4823mm, W 2068mm, H 1525mm

Peugeot 508 RXH used car rivals

See prices of Volvo XC70 
See prices of Audi A6 alroad
See prices of Lexus RX 450h