Peugeot 508 RXH: car review
A clever machine that’s big on green credentials but sometimes frustrating to drive
What is it?
A clever machine with a great deal of sophisticated technology at work under the bonnet. It’s also spacious and well equipped.
Would it help me stay safe?
An array of safety aids on the vehicle ensure it received the maximum five-star rating from EuroNCAP.
Who should buy it and how much does it cost?
If you’re looking for conventional long-distance comfort with the occasional foray onto rough ground, then this could be a good choice for you.
Our review: Good Motoring, Winter 2012
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Choose from four different drive options, using a dial on the central console. An electric-only mode lets you glide silently round town. ‘Auto’ is your everyday choice, while ‘Sport’ sharpens up the gear changes and boosts the revs. Finally, a four-wheel-drive setting puts the diesel engine to work on the front wheels while the electric motor drives the rear.
Driving this car was not the automatically satisfying experience you might expect from something this expensive. For example, the ‘auto’ mode seemed to bring an uncomfortable acceleration sense – with clear moments of inaction as we shifted up through the gears, as if the car was hesitating. This led to some discomfort because we felt unnecessarily held back. Things improved slightly – but not fully – using Sport mode. Blame the automated manual gearbox for those surges and interruptions. Not pleasant.
The ride is 50mm higher than the Peugeot 508 SW estate on which it is based. Its track is also 40mm wider, so it really gets a big thumbs-up for off-road performance and comfort.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
It feels extremely spacious, and its massive sunroof adds to this sense of room, plus you get a great view outside from wherever you happen to be sitting. Because there’s no need to run a transmission tunnel along the body of the car, the rear seats work very well ands there’s genuinely plenty of room for three adults. The interior lighting feels sophisticated and smart.
Boot space is slightly compromised – after all, the battery pack has to go somewhere. We’d venture to suggest you probably wouldn’t notice this much, as it’s easy to fold down the rear seats -and the tailgate’s nice and wide, giving a feeling that it’s bigger than it really is. Total useable space is 423 litres though this increases to more than 1,400 with the back seats folded down.
Standard safety features include ABS, emergency braking Assistance (EBA), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Programme and Traction Control (ESP & ASR), Dynamic Stability Control (CBC), as well as curtain airbags for front and rear windows, driver and front passenger front and side airbags, alarm, remote central locking with deadlocks and Peugeot Connect SOS and Assistance. A EuroNCAP rating has not yet been provided.
As well as the clever technology that’s hard at work in the belly of the car, there are loads of gadgets and toys – both standard and optional. We particularly liked the Smartbeam Assistance, which automatically switches headlights between main beam and dipped when you are driving at night. Also, the Star/Stop technology helps with fuel saving and cutting emissions. Options worth considering are the electric tailgate and a driver massage system (maybe not worth £1000, though).
Our main bugbear is the wide gap between the claimed fuel economy (Peugeot says 68.9mpg) and reality. Our test yielded an average of little more than 40mpg, which was a great disappointment. Remember, though, that it will manage more than two miles purely on electric power, and its low CO2 emissions help with the amount of duty you’ll pay each year.
A clever machine – it’s big, airy and comfortable and it does brilliant work off-road – but the gearbox simply isn’t fit for purpose.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: from £33,695
Performance: 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds
Economy: 69mpg is claimed
Tax: Band B (£0 first year)