SOME cars survive in the cut-throat modern market, others seems to wither on the vine and leave you wondering why.
A good example of the latter is the Peugeot 508 RXH. It comes as either a 180bhp diesel with six-speed auto gearbox or a diesel hybrid where a battery pack and electric motor helps give extra urge and a form of four wheel drive, with mechanical power at the front and the electric motor pushing behind.
The car has ride height raised by 5cm, so if your commute starts along a country track or your working day involves some tough conditions then this car could be a solution – or it could have been if the non-hybrid model had been fitted with Peugeot’s Grip Control system that would have made it the match for any pseudo 4×4 estate car.
As it is, fans of the RXH, few and far between by the look of things, only have a slim chance of getting a new one. Production has stopped, so what’s left in stock is what’s available.
Perhaps one of the most appealing features now that penalty road tax has arrived is that either version comes in at less than the £40,000 cut-off at which penalty road tax charges arise. Quite a few SUVs and all-road type estate cars will fall foul of this but the RXH neatly sidesteps it.
What’s more, the hybrid version also suffers less from Benefit In Kind (BIK) income tax levies when operated by a company for an employee.
On a practical front, there’s much to recommend the RXH. It has excellent boot space, sensibly shaped with tie-down eyes and 512 litres of capacity with all the seats in place. There are thoughtful touches like a load cover cassette that also has a pull-up safety net to stop items shooting forward if they are above the level of the seat backs, making the entire space far more usable than the 512 litre figure suggests.
Lift the boot floor and there’s also a space saver spare underneath – too many cars these days lack a spare wheel, one of the reasons our old Ford S-MAX was moved on at the end of its lease rather than purchased. The new S-MAX, and the Galaxy that has replaced our S-MAX, now have a spare that drops from under the car which saves emptying the boot when the inevitable flat happens on a wet day.
Anyway, back to the Peugeot. It occurred to us that the RXH had rather slipped under our radar so it was booked to take us on a trip of almost 2,000 miles that involved trains and boats and planes. The train was the Jacobite steamer running from Fort William to Mallaig, the boats were ferries, the best way of cutting the corners on the Scottish west coast, and the plane was a Britten-Norman Islander run by Hebridean Air out of Oban that took us on a wonderful, almost slow motion, excursion over some of our favourite lochs and islands.
The holiday will truly be memorable for all the right reasons, it’s just a shame it was a swan song for the car that carried us!
And what a car it turned out to be. Over the total distance it averaged 44mpg, achieving a best of 49mpg coming back along the M6 (well it is downhill!).
The speed limiter and cruise control proved effective in preventing us making contributions to the Scottish exchequer via the speed camera vans that sit on the over bridges of the M74 as you near the English border and, of course, they also assisted with an economical driving style.
The auto box was smooth but there were times when the car delivered a sudden surge of power that could be disconcerting. On the whole, though, it was well behaved apart from some odd behaviour, such as a head-up display that only rose from the dash when it felt in the mood and a nearside door mirror that would decide after a day or two that it really was better pointing at the sky than at the road behind!
The good news is that other versions of the 508 estate continue in production so all is not lost yet. The GT has the same engine and transmission as the test car, more standard kit, but not the ride height lift. It’ll be worth a look, that’s for sure.
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: Peugeot 508 RXH BlueHDI 180 six speed auto
Does it fit our ego…
0-62 mph: 8.9 secs
Top speed: 137 mph
Bhp: 180 @ 3750 rpm
Torque: 400 nm @ 2000 rpm
…and your wallet…
Combined: 61.4 mpg
CO2 emissions: 119 g/km
Best bits: competent even in its death throes