Road test: Peugeot 508 RXH BlueHDi
Like a number of competitors, Peugeot has realised there is a market for the pseudo ruggedised estate car and so we come to the 508 RXH. It isn’t new of course, but has just had a gentle facelift plus the addition of the 180 bhp diesel to the range and therefore worth another look.
The 508 estate is a handsome car and suits the slightly raised height and chunky wheel arches rather well. With many rivals adopting complicated side sculpting, the simpler planes of the 508 remain elegant and unfussy. After seeing a white example at the Geneva motor show this month, the black model which arrived for our test seems to carry greater gravitas somehow.
The 508, despite its facelift, doesn’t look or feel quite as fresh as its younger Peugeot stablemates. It is worth siting here the rather fabulous interior illumination of the 2008. That said, the functionality is all there, easy to access with the touch screen and unlike other newer PSA Group vehicles, doesn’t need a screen mode change when flicking between radio channel or cabin temperature adjustment. Accommodation is good, with ample leg room and decent load space.
On the move, the 180 hp diesel is rather good, notably for the critical mid-range acceleration needed to pull out into a faster-flowing lane on a motorway. The fully automatic gearbox, while a considerable improvement over the electronically controlled manual ‘EGC’ unit found in the Hybrid4, is still slower to change than competitors’ dual clutch offerings. However, we rarely found it lacking and other than just to try it out, didn’t use the sport mode much either; the ‘box seemed to grab the right cog quickly enough for a number of overtaking manoeuvres on A roads.
So what’s the unique selling point for Peugeot’s large estate? In hybrid form, it operates all-wheel-drive so there’s all-round practicality, certainly. Otherwise – styling apart – the RXH doesn’t offer much over the standard SW estate. Depreciation has traditionally been less kind for large French models than with their German rivals so it is important to understand whole life costs if buying.
Cup holder challenges
In terms of niggles, there aren’t many. The cup holders extend out of the dash but actually using them obscures the touch screen. The driver’s holder also sits too near the indicator stalk. We found the tailgate had a tendency to drip water on the person opening it and the rear-view parking camera didn’t show a great deal at night. While the latter might be expected, other marques seem to succeed with a slightly better image in low lighting conditions.
However, after a 200-mile drive along the North Wales coast line, the 508 RXH performed effortlessly and while we seem to have lost the gliding ride of French cars of old (for good, it seems), it remained extremely comfortable. One or two coarser road surfaces created a fair bit of cabin noise but ultimately, despite high winds and lashing rain, the 508 RXH is relaxed tourer.
Peugeot 508 RXH BlueHDi from £28,495
Power: 180 hp (@ 3,750 rpm), torque: 400 Nm (@ 2,000 rpm), emissions: 104 g/km CO2 (band B), 0-62 mph: 9.7 secs.
Motor Writer rating: ●●●○○