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Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4
TWO years ago, the Peugeot 3008 entered the landscape with all guns blazing, scooping a car of the year award from a leading motoring magazine before it was barely off the low-loaders.
It then settled down to family life as a smart and stylish carrier of people in comfort, with bags of gadgets at its disposal and even a “Grip” system for those wandering off road and needing some extra pulling power.
But the French firm was holding back on a piece of technology that would thrust it back in the limelight and give it a world-first tag – the combination of a diesel engine and electric motor.
The concept of of a hybrid vehicle is old hat now, but in the past it was only available with petrol engines.
That’s changed with the introduction of Peugeot’s 3008 Hybrid4. Based on a standard 3008, Peugeot has connected an electric powertrain to the car’s rear wheels.
In an instant you’ve got an all-wheel drive crossover vehicle, but you’ve also got a car that can travel for a mile or so on electric power alone.
In the right conditions it will also pull away from rest in electric mode, reducing the amount of fuel you use and the emissions of CO2 as well as boosting throttle response.
So how does it all work? In simple terms, the 3008 Hybrid4 packs a conventional four-cylinder 163bhp diesel motor under its bonnet.
At the back is an electric motor that delivers up to the equivalent of 37 horsepower. The battery pack is automatically charged when you’re off the throttle, and is most obvious from the stronger-than-usual engine braking. Around town, it’s noticeable that you need to use the brakes less when coasting to a stop.
The two power units’ connection with the real world is by Peugeot’s clutchless manual gearbox. It’s not a favourite of mine because of the lag in gear changes but, with the addition of electric power, those automated gear changes feel smoother than in a conventional car.
Out on the road, the 3008 Hybrid4 behaves almost like a regular 3008.
The immediate tell-tale sign is when you turn the key, as all is quiet. With the default start-up mode electric, it’s possible to pull away with just the distant whine of the electric motor.
If the car detects more power is required, the diesel engine fires into life. From then on it’s just like driving a diesel-powered 3008 until you come to a halt and the engine stops with you. Move off and, if there’s enough battery charge, you will power away in electric mode and start the automatic power-juggling cycle again.
If there’s one thing the hybrid variant does share with its conventional 3008 cousin, it’s a rotary controller allowing you to change transmission modes. To counter the need for a genuinely costly all-wheel drive system, Peugeot adopted the Grip traction control system. The Hybrid4 model goes a step further – you can switch between all-electric (EV), sport, auto and 4x4 modes.
Of course, the car will only operate in EV mode for as long as there’s sufficient charge in the battery, which means driving gently to achieve even a modest distance. In slow-moving traffic around an urban or city environment it makes a lot of sense.
The flipside is the sport mode, which sparks everything the 3008 has for maximum acceleration and performance, while the 4x4 mode engages the rear axle for added traction on slippery grass and muddy tracks. Predictably, leaving the car in the auto mode seems to work best under normal circumstances, but the sport mode gives a terrific slug of pace.
The technical competence demonstrated by the 3008 Hybrid4 is but one element of its appeal.
Peugeot readily admits that its focus is on company car drivers as, with the base specification car outputting 99g/km CO2, the tax benefits are attractive.
Away from the engineering, the 3008 Hybrid4 can be a conventional car for daily use, the family car for weekends and holidays and the adventurous vehicle for those with an active ‘lifestyle’.
The cabin might be described as plush, with materials that would not look out of place in the premium class, and if you splash out an extra £1,465, you get a 3D media navigation system with a music hard drive and head-up display.
For a high-riding vehicle of this type, the 3008 provides an accomplished ride that gives the confidence to explore its cornering behaviour and ability to stick to the road. And it’s very, very good.
Versatility is the key, and the 3008 operates admirably on the motorway, in town and in the country, never feeling cumbersome.
On the motorway, the ride quality is the equal of larger cars in the French manufacturer’s range, and I found it a most relaxing environment. Comfortable seats are key to this, while the raised seating position offers a commanding view.
Combined with the slightly elevated driving position, the 3008 Hybrid4 proves adept at cruising.
It’s bursting with appeal, and you won’t be disappointed behind the wheel. The hybrid trickery makes for an even more compelling case.
Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4
PRICE: from £26,995
ENGINE: 2.0-litre diesel unit developing 163bhp. Electric motor develops 37bhp
TRANSMISSION: six-speed automated manual transmission as standard, driving the front wheels.
Electric motor drives rear wheels
PERFORMANCE: top speed 118mph; 0-62mph 8.5 seconds
ECONOMY: 74.3mpg combined
CO2 RATING: 104g/km when on 17-inch wheels. 99g/km
CO2 when on 16-inch wheels