One of the most recent additions to the Peugeot model line up is the 508 RXH. Based on the 508 estate, the RXH is a diesel hybrid model with 4WD and a full electric mode. In all honesty it's a rather brilliant piece of technology, and I was very grateful for the opportunity to give one a test. With the demands of car buyers changing to favour better economy and lower running costs, the RXH aims to meet the needs of these buyers.
Looks - 10/10
Well would you just look at this car. Wow. The Peugeot stylists can certainly be proud of this creation. They've taken a car which already looks good- the 508- and made it even better. On the outside the grill is wider giving a more aggressive stance. There are "claw" daytime running lights which help this stance at the front. The plastic trim around the whole car gives a more off-road rugged-ness, and the huge panoramic roof is just brilliant and classy. There are bits of chrome here and there, and the brushed aluminium alloys look fantastic as well.
Handling/Performance - 8/10
The engine is where things get a bit technical on the 508 RXH. You see, as well as the 2.0-litre diesel engine under the bonnet, there is a large electric motor under the boot floor. The engine powers the front wheels and the electric motor powers the rear. There are many different drive modes which are easily controlled via a dial on the centre console. The combined effect of both power sources is 200PS and 500Nm of torque. That's a lot, and means the RXH has great in-gear acceleration. 0-62mph takes 9.5 seconds, and the top speed is 132mph.
The RXH also has a full-electric mode, meaning you can waft silently through a local village without waking a soul. This takes some getting used to, because a car moving silently goes against every experience up to this time, but I really grew to like it. It was nice and relaxing and knowing that emissions in this mode are zero really makes you feel good. There is also a sport mode which uses the electric motor to aid performance, and a clever 4WD mode to offer practicalities in trickier situations. The 6-speed auto box is good, but I found it hesitant at time. Occasionally I would lift off and wait what felt like an eternity for the car to decide to change up. The cure for this was to switch to paddle shifts, but this is strange without a rev counter.
As for the handling, the large electric motor in the back does have an effect. I am not sure exactly what it weighs, but from the way the car rides I would say a lot. Over bumps the ride is extremely firm, and the rear bounces like you would expect from a pickup. Most unnerving was around cambered bumpy corners, the car would occasionally skip, which catches you by surprise at first. Over time I grew used to the handling characteristics, and on the motorway the RXH is smooth and comfortable.
Economy - 10/10
Obviously the whole point behind a hybrid vehicle is to gain in the economy department. Gladly the 508
RXH doesn't disappoint. Thanks to its clever start-stop capabilities- switching to electric mode when stationary- and full electric mode, the emissions of the RXH are 107g/km CO2. That puts the car in VED band B. Road tax will cost you a mere £20 for 12 months. On a large luxury car, that's extremely impressive. As well as low emissions the RXH offers combined fuel economy of 68.9mpg. Given that this car is bigger than your average hamlet, and weighs about the same as a manor house, that news comes as a relief. The 508 RXH is kind to your wallet at the fuel stations, and this makes you feel good.
Practicality - 10/10
Top marks go to the 508 RXH for practicality. Despite the large electric motor, there is still a large boot, and this can be extended further by dropping the rear seats. Thanks to some handles located just inside the boot, dropping the rear seats is very easily done. The cabin is incredibly spacious and suitable for tall adults all round. The seats are comfortable, and with the optional full-leather pack the drivers seat can even give you a massage while you drive along. Very nice.
My test car was fitted was fully loaded and the spec was out of this world. As well as the full-leather massage seat, it had quad-zone air conditioning which allows rear-seat passengers to individually control temperatures. An electric tailgate means you never have to shut the boot yourself and waste all that energy. There's also the huge panoramic roof with electric blind, cruise control, speed limited, sat-nav, parking sensors, parking aid (which judges whether the car will fit in a space), iPod control, bluetooth, and lots more.
Fun - 9/10
When I knew this car was due to be delivered, I was a bit reserved. I was worried that with all this technology the 508 RXH would be far too complicated to be any fun. Gladly it transpired that this wasn't in fact the case. Quite the opposite in fact. The most fun part of this car was playing around with all the different driving modes, and in particular I loved the ZEV (zero-emission vehicle) mode. This makes the RXH completely silent, and engaging this and driving through a quiet village was an experience in itself. You could almost hear the neck muscles of passers by tense as they turned their heads to get another look. With the heads up display as well you could mistake the cabin of the RXH for some sort of space station. You will constantly find new buttons and things the car can do. And that makes it entertaining.
Total Score - 47/50