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Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 review (2011 onwards)
What - Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4
Where - Dinard, France
Date - September 2011
Price - £26,995
Available - Order now: delivery late 2011
Key rivals - Chevrolet Volt, Nissan LEAF, BMW X1, Toyota Prius, Toyota Prius+
Summary - World-first diesel hybrid makes you wonder what took them so long. Performance, economy and driver experience all satisfy in a very convincing way indeed.
We like - User experience, responsive performance, economy, impressive electric-only range, smart styling, no impact on practicality
We don't like - Not cheap, performance doesn't realise promise of '200hp' claim, not a genuine 4x4
What's taken the car world so long? Diesel engines are inherently 30% more fuel-efficient than petrol ones. A very good diesel is almost as economical as some petrol-electric hybrids. The logical thing to do is thus create a diesel-electric hybrid.
Peugeot is, at last, the world's first brand to do this. Its new HYbrid4 technology in the 3008 combines a 163hp 2.0-litre HDi engine driving the front wheels with a 37Kw electric motor driving the rear ones. It can use either to propel the vehicle, or combine both to produce 200hp and up to 331lb.ft pulling power (with four-wheel drive capability too).
It's an ingenious system, behind which is a lot of technology. Peugeot promises this is relatively economical to mass-produce, but even so, this powerful crossover SUV has a list price starting from £26,995: the cheapest Toyota Prius is £21k, but that only has a 98hp engine. A Nissan LEAF EV is £31k, the Chevrolet Volt will cost £33,500.
Despite all its power and capability, Peugeot's economy promise stands up. Claimed CO2 reaches 99g/km in optimised guise, along with combined fuel economy of 74.3mpg (as economical as slower and smaller petrol-electric hybrids). The tech is coming to a 508 next year, along with the next-generation 308 and various other cars of this size. Has the wait been worth it?
It's high-tech, but simple to drive. Peugeot recommends you leave the 3008 HYbrid4 drive selector dial in 'Auto': this gives you best economy and power, blending diesel and electric drive in the most efficient way. At speed, only the diesel engine is used. It is quiet and refined enough to mean you barely notice it cutting in and taking over from the slow-speed electric drive.
It is not a sportscar, despite the 200hp promise. Acceleration is swift but not, ahem, electric. The extra batteries and electric motor mean the 3008 HYbrid4 weighs more than standard, and this 1.8-tonne kerbweight dulls performance. The battery regeneration function is strong, too: lift off and the recharge drag slows the 3008, even going down hills.
Where the 3008 HYbrid4 does impress is with pulling power. The surge of the diesel engine gives strong response on the move (quite unlike petrol-electric hybrids) but, just as significantly, the electric motor helps at slow speed. It smartly moves the 3008 HYbrid4 away from rest and, in 'Sport' mode, can double up with the diesel engine to give surging overtaking boost.
Electric mode is available at speeds below 43mph. It can be locked in by selecting 'ZEV' on the mode selector dial - if you are driving at a steady speed, you can actually select this and, if it's running, 'turn off' the engine to run on battery power alone: an amusing trick that shows the broad range of the HYbrid4 system.
In all-electric mode, it is very impressive. Slow-speed pull is acceptable, and sufficient to let you travel a surprising distance without the diesel cutting in. Time and again, we were impressed at just how far we could go under electric power alone: when the diesel did cut in - say, on hills - it did so smoothly.
The fully-automatic gearbox is a robotised manual. This changes gear more smoothly than in other 'ECG' Peugeots: during gearchanges, the electric motor supplies a burst of power, to mask the momentary loss of drive and reduce the 'lurch' this type of gearbox can cause.
Ride and Handling
The Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 has Peugeot 508 rear suspension. The multi-link setup is more sophisticated than standard 3008s and helps make it more agile in corners. It satisfies here, even if the over-weighty steering has an artificial feel. The ride is supple at speed too, although it is rather sharp and knobbly in town.
Peugeot underlines it is not an off-roader. Limited ground clearance sees to that. 4WD can be locked in via the centre console dial, but solely there to improve muddy-field traction rater than get you up hills or through rivers. The functionality doesn't cost anything in terms of economy, and could just help out in low-grip situations.
Unlike some hybrids, Peugeot has retained all the practicality of the standard car. Even the boot (complete with cool Range Rover style split tailgate) is no smaller than the standard 3008, with 354 litres even with the seats up.
The rear seats are roomy and the high-set (rather firm) front seats give a commanding view out. The dash is very high quality and has some great detail touches: the hi-res centre pop-up screen shows off the various hybrid operating modes clearly. The rev counter is replaced by a 'power' dial too, showing charge and eco states.
Instruments apart, are two clues it is a hybrid: the stubby, curiously shaped (but neat) gearlever, and the hybrid control dial on the centre console. Peugeot says this is best left in Auto, but it also has 4WD, Sport and ZEV modes - the latter locks it in EV mode so long as there's charge in the battery and the speed is below 43mph.
Equipment befits a car that start at well over £25k. However, do note the 99g/km free road tax model does not come with sat nav, not even as an option. All variants do get standard climate control air con though, even the greenest one.
Economy and safety
74.3mpg potential and 99g/km CO2 (for free road tax) are yours if you forego large alloy wheels and sat nav. Even the plusher 104g/km model can average 70mpg though - and as there is such a reserve of pulling power, this figure is more likely to be realistic, too.
It is easy to drive the 3008 HYbrid4 gently while still keeping pace with traffic. This has a positive effect on average economy: we averaged 52mpg even on the usual hard-driving test route. As you don't have to drive it hard, it also means the 3008 HYbrid4 is very quiet and serene at speed, too.
What's significant is the emphasis on ensuring the batteries are fully charged. The lift-off recharge effect is significant and Peugeot also uses some of the diesel engine's power on the go to top up the batteries. The intention is to always have them as full as possible, so EV mode can be deployed often at slower speeds.
The rear-mounted electric motor brings four-wheel drive functionality, which can be a safety boon in low-grip situations. Pedestrians should watch out, though: the large electric range means frequent silent running in town: that's why Peugeot fits vivid daytime running LEDs - to help the 3008 HYbrid4 stand out when moving...
The MSN Cars verdict
The diesel hybrid concept works, convincingly. Much more powerful and fuel-efficient than petrol-electric hybrids at higher speed (negating the weight of the batteries), the EV-only capability helps stem the in-town emissions debate surrounding diesel powerplants. On-paper economy is good, real-world economy stand up to scrutiny, while benefits such as 4WD and 331lb/ft of torque are compelling.
It's not cheap: we'll have to wait for future lower-power variants in other types of car for that. But it's one of the most satisfying hybrid we've driven, with few compromises and many pluses. Those seeking an upscale green car should certainly add it to their list.
|Need to know|
|Engines, electric||Rear axle electric motor|
|Engines, diesel||2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel|
|Power, bhp||163@3,750rpm (diesel), 37 (electric)|
|Torque, lb ft||221@2,000rpm (diesel), 147 (electric)|
|0-62 mph, secs||9.1|
|Top speed, mph||118|
|Ride & handling||***|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
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