From £32,684
Diesel-electric hybrid offers all-road ability, space and low company car tax
Steve Cropley Autocar
27 February 2012

What is it?

Peugeot is poised to launch its £33,695 Peugeot 508 RXH hybrid estate crossover that looks certain to become the new darling of Britain’s business user-choosers. The company’s marketing men estimate that as many as 90 per cent of their new RXH diesel estates will find homes with business buyers after the model arrives this May because, under current company car tax law, the car will cost an ‘owner’ about £1600 in tax annually, whereas a Ford Mondeo estate of similar power and performance would set you back around £3400.

It’s all because the RXH’s diesel-electric Hybrid4 system – a 161bhp front-drive diesel engine electronically linked to a 37bhp electrically driven rear axle – emits a mere 107g/km of CO2, according to official figures, a level that attracts much lower benefit-in-kind tax than equivalent conventional models.

What’s it like?

However, the Hybrid4 system isn’t all good news. When we tested the same powertrain recently in a 3008, we were disappointed in particular by its unresponsive six-speed automated manual gearbox and its inability to get close to the official combined fuel consumption figure. A conventional diesel auto, we felt, would have been better.

However, in the 508 RXH, the new-tech powertrain makes considerably more sense because the impressive all-wheel drive traction works well with the RXH’s ‘soft road’ equipment – ride height raised by 50mm, wider tracks front and rear and underbody protection measures – to deliver a car that’s effective on rough tracks and in mud and snow.

The gearbox hesitation is there, and remains annoying, especially when you try to accelerate as briskly as normal 197bhp diesel autos can do. However, you eventually learn to defeat the problem by selecting Sport and permanently locking the diesel engine and electric motor together (which harms economy), or limiting the effect by manually selecting a lower gear, via the left-hand steering column paddle, before putting your foot down. It’s not perfect, but it works.

Despite the raised ride height, the car corners neatly and securely, although the firm spring rates (so far tried only in France) may be problematic in the UK. This is one car that we need to sample urgently on Britain’s typically rutted roads and which, we suspect, Peugeot should have tested more in this country.


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On the other hand, UK-based company car buyers paying city car levels of tax for a well equipped and spacious wagon may find that they don’t care at all.

Peugeot 508 RXH

Price: £33,695; 0-62mph: 8.8sec; Top speed: 132mph; Economy: 68.9mpg (combined); CO2: 107g/km; Kerb weight: 1525kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1997cc, turbodiesel, plus electric motor; Power: 161bhp plus 36bhp; Torque: 148lb ft plus 111lb ft; Gearbox: 6-spd automated manual

Join the debate


9 March 2012

Its that awful gearbox once again that stops this from even getting past the starting gate as far as i can see.

But then if you look at the numbers too, it cheats the tax system, but isnt actually very quick despite all that power, no doubt due to weight (and that box). As much i like Peugeots of old, this is just so far off my radar. If Peugeot want to pursuade me to give them my money these days they will have to recapture their understanding of handling and driver involvement, not how to fiddle the tax system.

9 March 2012

Peugeot are right, if somewhat arrogantly. This car is going to be bought by the company car buyer who is solely concerned by their personal taxation. It is a car that has been designed and built to work round the EU ratings and released on to the market without what appears to be sufficient development.

All of this is a shame, because with a little refining this could be a cracking car.

9 March 2012

How much?.......we will see loads of those on the roads then.

9 March 2012

If company car drivers want a low tax bill they can get this drive train in the Citroen DS5 which in base trim costs a lot less and only emits 99gm of CO2. Less tax, no congestion charge, no road tax and (in my opinion) a much more attractive vehicle.

9 March 2012

Much too expensive, still not any better than diesel option.

9 March 2012

Even if you could get on with the dreadful gearbox, the price is ridiculous. Rumours are that the XF Sportbrake will start at the same kind of figure, and you could spec a new 3-series with the decent suspension and some toys for that.

I know the CO2 levels will be key to some buyers, but the price also contributes to the figures.


9 March 2012

This is a nice looking car. Retail price a bit high but I suppose it meant to compete with Volvo XCs of the world. A year or so ago I hired a Picasso with an automated manual expecting the worst. After a week of driving I returned the car thinking it was fine for that type of car. My worry was for durability because it never selected neutral. But it wasn't jerky and was far smoother than 99% of drivers can manage. Perhaps these gearbox's are victims of the "tyranny of opinion" (tranny???)


9 March 2012

Is'nt the big problem with this implementation that the electric motor cannot be used over 80mph so the faster you go the less power you have.

9 March 2012

[quote jer]Is'nt the big problem with this implementation that the electric motor cannot be used over 80mph so the faster you go the less power you have[/quote]

This shouldn't be a problem in the UK with our congested roads and 70mph speed limit especially as this is not a trackday special for the weekend!

9 March 2012

[quote jer]A year or so ago I hired a Picasso with an automated manual expecting the worst. After a week of driving I returned the car thinking it was fine for that type of car.[/quote] Many road testers have said the same thing. These automated manual gearboxes need a certain driving style to get the best from them. If you are the sort of driver who demands the gearbox fit in with your existing driving style it is probably not for you. If you can adapt your driving to suit the gearbox then you can be happy with it.


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