Peugeot 508 RXH

Admirable off-road capabilities and a high-tech engine, but little else

£30,295 - £34,645 Price range

5 Seats

61 - 70 MPG

5.9
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 7 reviews
  • Well equipped
  • Low car tax
  • Innovative engine
  • Small boot
  • Ride quality complaints
  • Expensive

Audi and Volvo started the ball rolling for rufty-tufty, four-wheel drive estate cars, with the A6 Allroad and V70 Cross Country back in the late 90s.

 

Peugeot’s take on the theme is a little different, as it uses a parallel hybrid system, that uses a diesel drivetrain to power the front wheels, while an electric motor sends power to the rear wheels. It’s only available as an estate, and achieves hugely impressive official fuel figures. However, reviews are mixed – read on to find out why.

Interior

Aside from a couple of readouts letting you know what the hybrid system is doing, it’s pretty much standard Peugeot 508 inside. That means seats that testers find comfortable, plenty of space even when six footers are all travelling in the car together, a high-quality dashboard with smart styling, and a refined cabin.

The boot is pretty large as you’d expect, but not as much as the regular 508 SW thanks to the hybrid gubbins beneath the boot floor. That robs 89 litres of space, knocking it behind the more conventional Audi A4 Allroad. As a range-topping model though, there are plenty of creature comforts.

Driving

While the drive is largely dominated by the unusual drivetrain, as we’ve detailed below, the 508 RXH proves little different to the regular 508 to drive. That means that despite the raised ride height, testers describe a car that corners flatly, with precise steering and plenty of grip.

Unusually, it’s even quite good off road. The structure is stiff, the raised ride height helps and the extra traction from the electric motors makes it surprisingly capable. The main criticism drivers seem to have of the RXH is the ride quality – traditionally, French cars have had cossetting rides, but testers describe a ride that feels unsettled at all speeds.

Engines

With effectively two methods of propulsion, things could get confusing here – but here are the basics. The main engine is a 2.0-litre, 161bhp turbodiesel, driving the front wheels. A 37bhp electric motor sits at the back, driving the rears. Since they drive independent sets of wheels, that adds up to a nice, round 197bhp.

With the ability to drive up to 2.5 miles on electric power alone, the 508 RXH aces the official fuel tests and manages 68.9mpg combined, with only 107g/km of CO2 – for £20 a year tax. The drivetrain is good, but testers say it isn’t perfect – many describe a slight jerkiness to the transmission, as it’s an automated manual, rather than a dual-clutch or torque converter auto. Fuel economy can also take a dive if you start to use the performance.

Value for money

As a private buy, testers say the 508 makes little sense. That’s down to the high purchase price – over £33,000 – and the likely catastrophic depreciation it’ll suffer, in common with every large French car ever sold.

It makes much more sense as a company car, where someone else can take the depreciation hit, while you benefit from low company car tax rates thanks to the excellent quoted economy.

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Worth noting

If you don’t need all that hybrid technology and simply want a cheaper to buy, economical Peugeot estate instead, then you can still get your hands on the 508 SW. Prices for that car start at a much less scary £19,000, and the most economical versions can still do 65mpg. You shouldn’t find much use for the options list in the RXH though – it’s a very well-equipped vehicle.

Conclusion

While there’s plenty of technology on offer, reviewers have plenty of reservations over just how useful a vehicle the 508 RXH actually is. The on-paper economy is much better than most testers have been getting, boot space is compromised, it’s very expensive for a Peugeot, and the ride isn’t as smooth as French cars are renowned for.

However, for a small proportion of drivers – most of them likely to be company car users, it’ll provide a great mix of practicality, economy and poor-weather security.

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