Peugeot Ireland has recently added something very special to the 508 line-up: the 508 RXH is part of Peugeot’s strategy to move the brand upmarket and sports a trendy, off-road look (think Volkswagen Passat Alltrack, Audi A4 Allroad and Volvo V60 Cross Country).
The 508 RXH was first launched some years ago as a diesel hybrid with four wheel drive, but this car never made it to Ireland. The car you see in the photos is far more conventional however: Peugeot has gone back to basics and stuck a straightforward 2.0-litre diesel into the body of the 508 RXH and kept to a simple front wheel drive layout. Could there be anything more perfect for the Irish market?
Moving upmarket also means moving the pricing a little out of the mainstream. The 508 RXH has a list price of €41,595, but there is quite a lot going on with this car to justify that price.
In styling alone, the visual upgrades give the 508 RXH considerable more presence and kerb appeal when placed side by side to the standard 508 SW estate it’s derived from. The RXH has a raised ride height, which makes the car physically imposing, while plastic cladding around the wheel arches and sills and aluminium front and rear bumper scuff plates complete the off-road makeover. Characteristic 18” alloys and ‘claw-effect’ LED daytime running lights also announce the arrival of something a bit more special.
The build of the car also appears very good: the doors close with a resounding clunk and the cabin is put together well. The dash has an attractive design with lots of gloss black around the centre console and the plastics on view are of good quality. The spec is extremely good including heated and electrically adjustable front seats, keyless entry and start, electric parking brake and hill start assist, full leather trim, heads-up display, panoramic glass roof, climate control, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, rear view camera and parking sensors, four electric windows, blind spot monitoring…you will want for nothing. Three will fit comfortably in the back and the boot is 550 litres with a low sill, an easy clean plastic floor cover and various hooks and nets to control your cargo.
The 508 RXH comes as standard with a top of the range 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel that produces a healthy 180bhp and there is just one gearbox option, a six speed automatic. The engine produces 400Nm of torque and there is plenty of power and pull so this car feels anything but underpowered. The automatic has a sport and winter mode, and paddles if you want to take over but I just let it do its thing for most of my time with the car. It makes smooth progress unless you ask it to dump all of its power on the road at the one time and then it hesitates a bit before the gear is engaged.
This car makes a great motorway companion and smoothes out the worst of the bumps and rough bits once you get out onto something more rural. The steering has a nice bit of heft to it and gives decent enough feedback so you can place the car quite easily on the smallest of roads. It’s not the most dynamically exciting car as it protests with lean of the car’s body weight when you push it hard into a corner but nobody is selling this car under the pretence it’s a sports estate, and the 508 RXH has enough grip for it to always feel safe and secure on the road. Minimal road, engine and wind noise make this an easy car to get along with on a daily basis.
There is no four wheel drive option but the advantage of the conventional layout is running costs are kept in the region of any other large diesel, front wheel drive car – motor tax is just €200 for the year and the car will return up to 61mpg.
The Peugeot 508 RXH blends the practicality of a large estate car with some serious kerb appeal: the RXH makeover lifts the 508 into much more premium company. Of course, there is a price tag to match that but thankfully the build and finish of the car, sheer mountain of equipment, and affable driving character help justify that.
Model tested: Peugeot 508 RXH 2.0-litre HDI FWD
Price: €41,595 (Base 508 SW from €29,790)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
0-100km/h: 8.9 seconds
Economy: 61.4mpg (4.6/100km)
CO2 emissions: 119g/km
Tax band: A4 (€200 per year)