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Peugeot 508 RXH 2012 Road Test

I featured the drivetrain of the Peugeot 508 RXH in my 508 video. And tested it in the 3008 HYbrid4.

Here, we’re driving the two put together into Peugeot’s halo model that will set you back all of £33,695. (Since the £36,000 RH8 Limited Edition was an almost instant sell-out, Peugeot doesn’t feel compelled to discount for the time being.)

You can see where your money has gone. Half leather trim, 7” satnav screen, panoramic roof. It’s all very plush and feelgood. You could add full leather or Alcantara and leather with memory seats for an extra £1,150, pearlescent paint for £755 and Xenon lights for £715, but the basic car is decently equipped as it is.

Buyers of the Limited got Copper metallic paint, keyless go, quad zone climate control, leather and Alcantara seats, Xenon directional lights, park assist, a motorised tailgate and a JBL hi-fi system for their extra £2,305.

Obviously you can’t see the diesel/electric hybrid drivetrain that is the heat and soul of the car.

Like the 3008 Hybrid4 and Citroen DS5, a 163PS diesel engine sits up front and a separate electric motor drives the rear wheels. How these interact is the interesting bit.

That is organised by the Power Train Management Unit at the choice of the driver.

In ‘Auto’ mode, where most drivers will leave it most of the time, the entire system is automatically controlled, including operation of the HDI diesel engine and the electric motor.

In ‘ZEV’ mode the car can travel for about two miles on its rear electric motor alone before the engine cuts in and starts rechaarging the battery.

‘Sport’ mode gives quicker automatic gearchanges at higher engine revs and couples the diesel engine with the electric motor giving maximum performance.

In ‘4WD’ mode, the front wheels are permanently driven by the engine and the rears by the electric motor for maximum stability off road and in ice and snow.

Out on the road, in auto mode, the car drives respectably quickly and soothingly smoothly. Lurch gearchanges from the EGS transmission are ironed out by the intervention of the electric motor and progress is pleasantly satisfying, though at roundabouts and tight corners it does benefit from paddling down a gear or two manually. No need to run it fully manually. Better to let it revert to full automatic by itself.

Front suspension is lifted from the 508GT and handling of the RXH actually felt better than the GT, aided, no doubt, by the effect of part time four wheel drive in ‘Auto’ mode.

Selecting full four-wheel drive gives the car remarkable off-road ability, within reason. With no driveshaft front to back and 180mm ground clearance, it actually crests humps better than some SUVs.

Even in ‘Auto’ mode, if the front wheels start to slip on an incline, the system seamlessly brings in the rear electric motor to push you out of trouble.

Though 107g/km means a useful £20pa annual tax, the biggest benefit of the 508RXH is that company drivers can have a big, luxurious car for very little extra tax on their incomes.

Over 2012/13, the total BIK tax payable at 40% works out at £1,615, or £135 a month, with employers Class 1A NIC of £557. Over the next tax year of 2013/14 it will be £1,749 or £146 a month, with employers Class 1A NIC of £604.

In comparison, An Audi A4 Allroad TDI 170 would cost the same 40% taxpayer £3,116, or £260 a month, with employers Class 1A NIC of £1,075 over 2012/13 and £3,240 or £270 a month over 2013/14, with employers Class 1A NIC of £1,118.

The forthcoming 508 Hybrid4 saloon will be even better. It comes in at 95g/km CO2, which firmly qualifies it as annual tax and London Congestion Charge exempt and puts it in the lowest BIK tax category. That car arrives in July.

There is one glaring error – in the windscreen. The head-up display pod and the airvents reflect so badly in bright low sunlight it can be difficult to place the car on the road.

But that’s a minor criticism of a great package, and only happens during a few weeks of the year.

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