Peugeot 508 RXH diesel-hybrid versus racehorseApril 24, 2012
Peugeot 508 RXH diesel-hybrid
Model/Engine size: 508 RXH
Fuel: Diesel-electric hybrid
Fuel economy combined: 68.9 mpg
Beating Spirit rating: 10/10
To test its ‘low emission 4×4’ credentials, we pitched the new Peugeot 508 RXH diesel-hybrid against the racehorse of footballer Michael Owen – so which one won?
The new Peugeot 508 RXH shares the same diesel-hybrid powertrain as the Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 , which means that it has a diesel engine together with a battery and electric motor, and four driving modes: ZEV (zero-emission), Auto, Sport and 4WD. Having a 4WD mode means that theoretically it should be capable of driving across a wet field, so what better way of testing this theory than pitching the car against the racehorse of footballer Michael Owen.
Michael Owen jointly owns a stables facility with Tom Dascombe and Andrew ‘Bert’ Black with the aim of developing winning racehorses. Featuring sufficient space to set up a race between a car and a horse , it was an experiment that just had to be tried.
Horses at the stables taking part in the race included Michael Owen’s Ascot winning ‘Brown Panther’ and Wayne Rooney’s ‘Switcharooney’ . The course consisted of a long uphill section with a sweeping right hand corner at the top of the hill and then a short sprint to the finishing line. The horses would run on a surface comprised of sand, against the Peugeot 508 RXH which would have to drive uphill on wet and very rutted grass.
The idea was to try and keep pace with the horses. However this didn’t seem like a particularly difficult test of the car, so when the race started we instead decided to see just how fast the 508 could actually go on the grass. Therefore we floored the car from the line and it quickly built up speed with no dramas in the traction department, despite numerous ruts created by 4x4s driving over the wet field, and even though the car was on standard road tyres.
Before long we were approaching the top of the hill and the right hand corner. We eased off the throttle slightly and pointed the car into the corner and it kept the intended line with only minimal slippage. It was then only a short distance to the finish and the 508 crossed the line without any problems. We looked round to see where the horses were and only then did they come into view over the crest of the hill. This exercise therefore proved that if you need to get across a wet field as quickly as possible, forget the horse, instead travel in comfort in a Peugeot 508 RXH . Admittedly, the horses were only being exercised rather than being in all-out race mode
So the Peugeot 508 RXH has effective four-wheel drive capability, but it also features emissions of just 107 g/km CO2, along with official combined fuel economy of 68.9 mpg. It even has a zero-emission mode.
We’ve tested the Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4
both in France and in the UK and we think the car is a great concept, but the 508 RXH is a much better car to drive, and it also looks much more attractive.
Whereas the 3008 Hybrid4 appears rather bloated, the 508 RXH looks much sleeker. This also means that, despite the higher ground clearance of the 508 RXH, it isn’t as tall and bulky in terms of its handling, which makes a considerable difference to the driving experience. Yet despite being sleeker, the 508 RXH is still spacious, both in the passenger compartment and in the boot, and the interior and dashboard have a high quality feel with good levels of equipment.
We’ve also driven the 508 saloon , in e-HDI 112 guise, and we weren’t huge fans. The main reason for this was the car’s electronically-controlled 6-speed manual (EGC) or ‘automated manual’ transmission. This gearbox has huge pauses between gear changes and combined with a relatively low power output and a long, front-wheel drive saloon bodyshell, it’s just not a fun car to drive.
The 508 RXH has the same gearbox as the saloon but as is the case in the 3008 Hybrid4, the pauses during gears shift are filled by the electric motor. There’s still a pause but it’s much less noticeable. Rather than have the car make its own gear changes, you can choose to control things manually via the paddles behind the steering wheel, and that would be our preference if more enthusiastic driving is desired.
The 508 RXH also has more power – 163 bhp from the diesel engine and 37 bhp from the electric motor, giving a total of 200 bhp – and this provides a much better driving experience. And of course it has four-wheel drive capability. The downside of the hybrid system is the added weight, and the 508 RXH weighs a considerable 1910 Kg.
We’ve not been able to drive the 508 RXH for long enough to comment on its real-life fuel consumption, but we would expect a similar story to that of the 3008 Hybrid4: under normal driving, it’s unlikely that owners will come close to the official 68.9 mpg. We would expect an average of between 40-50 mpg, and 60 mpg if driven very carefully. This may be some way short of the theoretical combined figure, but it’s still likely to be better than most other cars in this class.
Similarly, our experience with the 3008 Hybrid4 would suggest that the amount of time that the car will be able to drive in zero emission mode will be very short, usually limited to the first few seconds after starting off.
The 508 RXH costs £33,695 and it’s on sale now. It’s a competitor to cars such as the Audi A4 Allroad 2.0 TDI. The Audi costs £31,380, produces 177 bhp, returns 46.3 mpg, emits 159 g/km CO2, and has a 25% BIK rate for company car drivers, which equates to £3,115 per year for 40% tax payers. In comparison the 508 RXH has a BIK rate of just 12% which equates to just £1,566 per year.
In June Peugeot is also launching a saloon version of the 508 with the diesel-hybrid system , and that will emit just 95 g/km CO2 – highly impressive for this class of car. This also shows the difference in emissions that larger wheels, wider wheel arches and higher ground clearance on the 508 RXH make – but car buyers like the appearance of 4x4s and that’s why they’re a growing segment.
Peugeot 508 RXH –
We like the Peugeot 508 RXH for its combination of good looks inside and out, its spaciousness, its performance, the overall driving experience, its four-wheel drive capability, and its official economy and emissions relative to all the above. For such a car to achieve 68.9 mpg and just 107 g/km CO2, it has to achieve a Beating Spirit rating of 10 out of 10 . However our words of warning are that we would want to test the 508 RXH for a longer period to evaluate its real-life miles per gallon, as we did with the 3008 Hybrid4, and we fully expect that owners will struggle to achieve such levels of economy in real world driving.
Video from Manor House Stables
Car Facts and Figures
Peugeot 508 RXH diesel-hybrid
Fuel economy extra urban: 67.3 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 70.6 mpg
CO2 emissions: 107 g/km
Green rating: VED band A – first year £0
Weight: 1910 Kg
Company car tax liability (2011/12): 12%
Insurance group: 33E
Power: 163 bhp (diesel) / 37 bhp (electric)
Max speed: 132 mph 0-62mph: 9.5 seconds