So, just what is the Peugeot 508 RXH Hybrid4? Well, it’s a beefed up, selectable 4×4 estate with hybrid technology, which, if I’m being completely honest, nearly put a downer on the whole experience for me, but let’s hold off on that thought for a moment. With extended wheel arches and raised ground clearance, the 508 RHX really does look the part, it’s a very good looking estate, well I think it is, in fact I think that it’s as pretty as the 406 coupe, which in my opinion is the best looking Peugeot, ever.
The 508 RXH Hybrid4 has a163hp HDi diesel engine up front, and coupled to the rear wheels sits a 37hp electric motor that’s charged via the engine and by braking. You have a choice of 4 selectable driving modes:
- Auto allows the 508 to select between diesel and electric.
- Sport allows faster gear changes and better throttle response and can propel the RXH from 0 to 60mph in 8.8 seconds.
- ZEV means it’s running off the electric motor offering zero emissions for 2.5 miles at speeds of up to 40mph. This mode can only be used when the battery has 50% charge or more.
- 4WD selects both the diesel engine and electric motor giving you 4×4.
The interior is lovely, jumping behind the wheel for the first time I was on the hunt for something I didn’t like, and after 10 minutes or so I was still looking. With soft plastics and high all-round build quality I found it a pleasant place to be, especially on long, drawn out drives. It’s very well put together too, with a quality feeling and everything you need within easy reach.
The colour ‘head up display’ is also a nice touch, it’s adjustable and keeps you informed of all the important bits. The centre screen tells you all that you need to know, and there’s extra info in-between the dials on the dash.
Getting comfortable is effortless thanks to electrically adjustable heated seats, the backs are supportive and the base is long enough to make driving a pleasure.
The steering wheel is a good size and has a flat bit at the bottom, I found this essential as getting in and out was a bit of a struggle for me, though it was something I became used to over the week, but let’s not forget, my usual vehicle is a 1996 Land Rover Discovery which is cavernous.
Tall back seat passengers might find long journeys a challenge. With the drivers seat almost all the way back there was plenty of space for my knees, but my feet couldn’t fit under the drivers seat, this meant I was sat in strange position.
The rear is huge when the rear seats folded down. Granted it’s a little less then its rivals, but then they don’t have an electric motor above the rear wheels. A compromise that I’m more than willing to accept.
Any gripes? Just one. There was nowhere I could find to store my sunglasses, they were either perched on my head or stashed in the centre cubby hole getting scratched with all the other tat.
Driving the RXH was huge fun. I’ve spoken to others who claim it has a wallowy ride, but I didn’t sense that at all, it always felt secure. Driving from Arncliffe to Langcliffe, the rain was relentless with numerous patches of slippery sheep poo, but the 508 was in its element, or at least I was. Granted, it would have been better in Peugeot’s RCZ but the RXH was doing a stirling job. Have you ever been driving and think that you should stop and enjoy the scenery, but you don’t want to because you’re having such a good time driving? Well that was me in the RXH! There were a couple of occasions when I felt the rear wheels hop over bumps in the road, but I was pushing it and there was nothing in the back to keep the weight down. I really enjoyed the experience, and after a while you don’t notice you’re driving a barge! Having said that, although it looks huge, it’s only 2mm longer thnt the 508 saloon.
Driving along a dirt road filled with potholes and scattered with corrugations, it coped really well, far comfier that the Mazda CX-5 I drove last month. Taking it further off road however you become aware of the limitations of the low profile tyres as they don’t have the natural cushioning bigger tyres have.
On the subject of off road, it obviously isn’t an off roader, but it coped admirably with a muddy track at a friends farm and passed the 3 wheel balancing test on a local green lane. Though I let it off the serious stuff because that isn’t what it’s designed for.
I mentioned previously that in 4WD mode the electric motor works with the diesel engine, but what if you’ve depleted all the electric, you may ask? Well, the 4WD function is always available due to the 8KW of constant power that the alternator provides.
If there’s one criticism, it has to be the automatic gearbox. When you want to a quick get away it thinks about it for a moment, hesitates with a slight jerk then sends you on your way. Putting it in Sports mode helps to eliminate this.
During the week it was used to ferry passengers and traversed mud covered country lanes, dirt tracks, city and motorways, and it performed admirably, it isn’t a low slung performance estate, so I didn’t treat it like one. Having said that, it can propel you from 0 to 62mph in 9.5 seconds and has a top speed of 132mph, which is quicker than its VW competitor.
A standard feature on the RXH is the panoramic sun roof, I love these, not only do the make the interior light and airy, but I’ve been known the recline the seat all the way back and gaze out at the sky. A warning, when both Mrs T and I did this in a secluded car park, you don’t ‘alf get some funny looks!
I mentioned that initially I wasn’t that keen on it being a hybrid, but I have to say I really liked how the Hybrid4 technology works, especially when you consider its fuel consumption. When it went back to Coventry, I had covered nearly 400 miles and it was showing just under 1/2 a tank of fuel left, I was impressed.
Mrs T and I arrived at the conclusion that if we needed a large, 4×4 estate, the RXH is something we would seriously consider having on our drive, it was frugal, fun to drive, practical and arguably more important, bloomin’ comfortable. If I was to give out stars it would receive 4.5/5, we could live with its little foibles, but the gearbox, although not a deal breaker, does occasionally disappoint, it doesn’t however detract from it being a cracking car to live with.