"The Peugeot 508 RXH is a comfortable, four-wheel drive hybrid estate car that comes loaded with standard equipment."
The 508 RXH is based on the 508 SW, but is higher and wider and gets more rugged looking bodywork. It also features the same hybrid engine, which combines a diesel engine to drive the front tyres and an electric motor to turn the rears, as the 3008 HYbrid4. Because of its four-wheel drive abilities, and the fact that it's only available in one trim level with all the luxury equipment you could need, it's a direct rival for the Audi A4 Allroad and Volkswagen Passat Alltrak.
The standard 508 SW is an impressive car to drive, and the RXH feels similar but with a few key differences. The taller body and an extra 110kg of weight, due to the batteries and electric motor, means it rolls around during cornering more than the 508 SW. A ZEV mode allows the car to travel around two miles on battery power alone – perfect for cruising silently through town – while in Sport mode there's a total of 200bhp available and acceleration is strong. The automatic gearbox, which is annoyingly slow to shift, and a harsh engine note when you floor the throttle, mean the RXH is at its best when you’re cruising at constant speeds – in those conditions it's a relaxing way to cover big distances.
Satellite-navigation, a full-length panoramic roof and leather seats are all fitted as standard to the RXH. The result is a cabin that isn’t quite a match for Audi's quality levels, but feels more expensive than any other Peugeot in the range. The suspension has been raised by 50mm which makes it even more comfortable over rough surfaces. Only the crude gearbox, which jerks you forward in your seat during gear changes, spoils the experience. In the back, there's plenty of leg and headroom for up to three passengers.
Some drivers might be put off by the complexity of Peugeot's hybrid system, which combines a 2.0-litre diesel engine under the bonnet and an electric motor mounted on the rear axle – but it should be extremely robust. The diesel engine is proven technology, while the electric motor has far fewer moving parts and should require virtually no maintenance. Peugeot says the battery pack will last up to 15 years, too. A demonstration of this fact is that Toyota has never has a reported breakdown with the hybrid system in the Prius.
To accommodate the electric control unit the boot floor has been raised slightly – but the penalty is small. There's still 423-litres of loading space, or 1,439 with the rear seats folded down; that's 89-litres and 159-litres less than the normal 508 SW respectively. Aluminium rails and chrome hooks allow you to tie your cargo down in the back while the split rear seats can be folded down in a single movement. Several different tow bars can be ordered as well, to make use of the RXH's 1,100kg towing capacity.
Value for money
A starting price of over £30,000 sounds like a lot, but when you consider the amount of equipment that includes, the 508 stacks up well against the competition. An Audi A4 Allroad 2.0 TDI 170 costs less to buy, but kitted out with similar levels of equipment it actually costs almost £3,000 more. A VW Passat estate TDI 170, with the same list of equipment will cost around £2,000 less, but the running costs will be far higher.
This is where the RXH really shines. With fuel economy of 68.9mpg and 107g/km it's significantly more efficient than anything else in its class for its power output. Almost 90 per cent of RXH sales are expected to be to business users and it's easy to see why. Compared to an Audi A4 Allroad TDI 170, the RXH will cost you £125 a month less in benefit in kind tax. A standard 508 SW HYbrid4 is on the way too, without the RXH's jacked-up suspension, which will cost even less thanks to CO2 emissions of 95g/km.