The new Peu­geot 508 RXH.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - Contents -

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The claws have come out as Peu­geot launches a diesel-elec­tric hy­brid into the pre­mium cross­over seg­ment fre­quented by Ger­man and Ja­panese mar­ques. Robert Barry re­ports on the 508 RXH.

The high-rid­ing plas­tic- clad all-wheeldrive pre­mium cross­over is not a new con­cept, but Peu­geot’s en­try into this seg­ment with the 508 RXH comes from a com­pletely dif­fer­ent an­gle in terms of en­gines and driv­e­line tech­nol­ogy.

It’s the world’s first diesel- elec­tric hy­brid pre­mium cross­over that is now the flag­ship of the 508 range, and is priced from $74,990 in­clud­ing 50,000km of road user charges.

Where the Audi All­road, VW Pas­sat, and Subaru Out­back have a con­ven­tional me­chan­i­cally- driven all-wheel- drive sys­tem, the 508 RXH has a two-litre 120kW tur­bod­iesel en­gine which pow­ers the two front wheels, which is com­bined in par­al­lel with a 27kW elec­tric mo­tor with an­cil­lar­ies, lo­cated un­der­neath the boot space, which power the rear wheels when re­quired.

Peu­geot calls the power train Hy­brid 4, and it was first un­veiled in the high-rid­ing 3008HY4 cross­over which was also part of the re­cent launch pro­gramme in Queen­stown.

Unique to the 508 RXH ( and also the 3008HY4) is an au­to­mated six- speed sin­gle­clutch EGC trans­mis­sion, which Peu­geot says has been used be­cause it is best suited to the par­al­lel sys­tems and pro­vides op­ti­mum fuel con­sump­tion.

While these EGC sys­tems have been lam­basted by mo­tor­ing me­dia pre­vi­ously for the in­abil­ity to change smoothly, Peu­geot says at each gear change in the 508 RXH, the breaks in torque are com­pen­sated for by the thrust con­tri­bu­tion of the elec­tric mo­tor, re­sult­ing in smoother gear shifts and greater driv­ing com­fort.

We can say with cer­tainty that Peu­geot has cer­tainly got this right, at last.

The elec­tric mo­tor, power elec­tron­ics, high volt­age re­versible al­ter­na­tor and the sys­tems which con­trol the di­a­logue be­tween these and the ABS and ESP sys­tems, were sup­plied to Peu­geot by Bosch, while the high volt­age Ni-MH bat­ter­ies were sup­plied by Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer Sanyo.

Peu­geot says that with max­i­mum power of 147kW, and 450Nm of torque pro­vided through the all-wheel- drive sys­tem, the 508

RXH has been de­signed to adapt to driv­ing in all types of con­di­tions, yet it of­fers a ZEV (100 per­cent elec­tric) mode, which is ideal for ur­ban driv­ing, and can re­duce fuel con­sump­tion to less than 4.1L/100km and C02 emis­sions to just 107g/ km.

Many hy­brids are not rec­om­mended for tow­ing, but Peu­geot says the 508 RXH can tow a braked trailer up to 1,100kg with load trans­fer or 800kg with­out. Sadly, though, the RXH does lose some lug­gage ca­pac­ity due to the rear en­gine, al­though there is 423 litres of space with the rear seats in place.

Launch­ing the 508 RXH in Queen­stown was in­tended to show the car’s suit­abil­ity for the lo­cal mar­ket, and its ca­pac­ity to adapt to our unique and ever- chang­ing driv­ing con­di­tions, which it han­dled quite ca­pa­bly.

There are four driv­ing modes in the 508 RXH which the driver can se­lect – Auto, ZEV, 4WD, and Sport.

Auto mode, says Peu­geot, pro­vides the low­est fuel con­sump­tion and least C02 emis­sions by com­bin­ing the out­put from the two power sources in the most ef­fi­cient man­ner, which also in­cludes the use of the stop/ start sys­tem in ur­ban traf­fic.

In ZEV mode, the 508 RXH will pro­vide up to 4km of silent travel at a speed of up to 70km/h, but this is de­pen­dent on the bat­ter­ies hav­ing at least a 50 per­cent charge, and how much the driver uses the cli­mate con­trolled air- con­di­tion­ing and other power-hun­gry de­vices in the car.

Al­though the 508 RXH is pri­mar­ily driven by its front wheels, en­gag­ing 4WD mode al­lows a driver to cross a muddy track or drive up a snow-cov­ered road to a ski re­sort. The sys­tem can send 40 per­cent of torque to the rear axle at low speeds, and can change the split due to wheel grip and en­gine speed.

Even when the bat­ter­ies are flat, the four­wheel- drive func­tion is al­ways avail­able due to the 8kW of con­stant power pro­vided by the al­ter­na­tor. Peu­geot says this is enough en­ergy to main­tain trac­tion when driv­ing con­di­tions de­mand it.

The Sport mode ba­si­cally opens up the taps, and al­lows the driver to fully ex­ploit the abil­i­ties of the two power sources and of the all-wheel- drive sys­tem. Sport mode al­lows faster gear change pat­terns than Auto mode, and will also al­low man­ual down changes as well.

In di­rect com­par­i­son to the 508 SW on which it is based, the new RXH has a 16mm wider track, and its ride height has been in­creased by 50mm. Four hand­some 18 inch al­loy wheels sit at each cor­ner, shod with Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport 3 245/45R18 tyres.

But the most strik­ing de­tail of the 508 RXH are the LED day­time run­ning lights, which have been de­signed by Peu­geot to give the im­pres­sion of three ver­ti­cal “lion claws” on each side of the “float­ing” grille. They cer­tainly give the RXH a much more ag­gres­sive stance than its sib­ling 508 mod­els.

As be­fit­ting a new flag­ship model, the 508 RXH is com­pre­hen­sively ap­pointed, with many items that are now con­sid­ered de rigeur in the pre­mium seg­ment.

These in­clude leather up­hol­stery with heated front seats, ad­justable thigh sup­port for driver and pas­sen­ger, quad zone au­to­matic cli­mate air­con, a panoramic glass roof with pow­ered shade cover, pri­vacy glass, front and rear park aids, heads-up dis­play, satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, USB plug, rain-sens­ing wipers, and bi-xenon au­to­matic head­lamps.

Think of the 508 RXH as a more af­ford­able Audi All­road and you are not far wrong. It’s cer­tainly a step up from pre­vi­ous Peu­geots in terms of qual­ity, fit and fin­ish, and feels solidly built and well ex­e­cuted.

We were im­pressed with the abil­i­ties of the 508 RXH on the open roads around Queen­stown and Cromwell, and the hy­brid power train cer­tainly pro­vided plenty of get up and go, when re­quired. Ride qual­ity was good, and the trans­mis­sion changed smoothly and al­most im­per­cep­ti­bly.

All things be­ing equal, we’re hop­ing for a full road re­port on the 508 RXH in the Oc­to­ber is­sue of Com­pany Ve­hi­cle.

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