Tuesday 6 December 2016

RXH's just the cup of tea for a large family

But small things can annoy

Published 26/06/2016 | 02:30

Well worth a test drive: Peugeot 508 RXH 2-litre diesel estate.
Well worth a test drive: Peugeot 508 RXH 2-litre diesel estate.

It is far from cup-holders I was reared, I can tell you. Yet what do you think became a big talking point almost from the moment I sat into this large Peugeot 508 RXH 2-litre diesel estate? Cupholders.

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We sure have our distinct priorities these days. Someone, somewhere decided that two cup-holder 'rings' should be positioned right under the central digital display. That meant cups etc hung down over, and could partially obscure, a range of buttons beneath.

It didn't bother me because I don't use cup-holders but nearly everyone else had an opinion on whether the layout was great or awful. Family, in-laws.. they all got in on the act.

Some previously had had cars of similar cup-holder geography and a) loved having one so handy or b) thought it a dreadful idea. So much talk about so little. It was bizarre; I almost feel foolish relating it.

But as it arose with such frequency, I had to take it as an indication of how so many people are attached to a bottle of water, cup of coffee or can of fizzy drinks these days.

It also goes to show how smaller everyday-use items can please or annoy so much. But we have, if we're honest, become a demanding and expectant lot too. Cupholders? Come on.

At this point, I have to stress I am not in favour of drivers using them - no matter where they are placed. Fine for passengers, but it's mad for drivers to sip hot tea and potentially spill it en route. I see cases of 'driver-sipping' every morning. I'm sure you do, too.

My motto is: drive when you are driving and drink tea, coffee etc when you are not.

You know, it would be a real shame if such a tiny wrinkle of discord were to put you off thinking about this RXH estate. I'd see it as particularly suiting a larger family and would come into its own this time of year, especially, when so many head off on holidays with the children.

It is 5cms taller than the normal 508 SW and echoes what the likes of Audi do, for example, with their all-road cars. This is as near as you will get to a 'crossover/SUV' without going the whole hog.

Traditionally, RXHs were 4WD diesel-hybrids. This is diesel-only without the extra costs of hybrid 4WD. It still looks well and it certainly has space - there is a mega luggage area and loads of room in the cabin for four large adults; certainly, three smaller bodies across the back would be no inconvenience.

I drove a fair bit in it - three airport trips, lots of in-city driving and a rousing run to the midlands and back. (I had my tea AWAY from the car - with hot currant buns in Offaly and gorgeous home-made sweetcake in Malahide.)

One of the main reasons you should test drive a car is to see how the seats suit you. These were excellent and had electric lumbar support. I was as fresh as a daisy after my drives.

The only snag with a motor like this is you really have to be sold on the idea of owning an estate as opposed to a crossover. With this, I think, you could say you nearly have the best of both worlds.

For me, it was all about the room and the engine which merely sips (!) fuel. I pushed revs to 4,000rpm but it remained quiet as an empty cup (!), especially on the open road where you get most from a car like this. My main criticism was that the suspension felt stiffer than I'd have liked; fine on highway tarmac, but noticeable over undulating patches of country roads.

A smaller criticism arose after parking it a few times. The lettering guide for Neutral, Drive, Reverse etc (6spd automatic) was absolutely tiny. I've got into the habit of looking down when selecting Reverse - just to be sure. The letters are ridiculously small; I had to squint.

The purists will say I shouldn't do that but I do. I know large N, D, R letters were shown on the information display in front of me but why not have the same on the legend beside the stick? Such small things really do matter. And that would drive me mad.

Yet it was as easy a car to park as I've come across for a while. The parking-assist system was excellent. I sneaked into slots I had no right to really.

As a package, the RXH made a strong case for what it offers. We don't buy too many estates here and there are lots of the more popular SUV genre. And while it is well decked out, it does come in at €40,000+. I suppose, a bit like the cupholders, it's your cup of tea or it's not. But if you need a large 'estate', it is well worth a test drive to get a flavour of the things that really matter - room, comfort and an excellent engine.

Facts & figures

Peugeot 508 RXH 2.0 BlueHDi diesel auto 180bhp (119g/km: €200 road tax). Price: €41,780 + delivery.

Standard spec includes: dual-zone air con, head-up display, sat nav, 7ins multifunction touch screen, Bluetooth + USB, DAB radio + CD player, 12v accessory power (front + rear), panoramic glass roof, Styling pack (wheel arches/sill extensions, aluminium scuff plates), 18ins alloys, full LED headlamps, leather trim, smartbeam assistance, spare wheel, cruise control/speed limiter, parking aids, Hill Assist, driver-seat massage.

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