Steve Sharpe test drives the world’s first diesel-electric hybrid production car
PEUGEOT’S 3008 HYbrid4 is a world first – it’s the first diesel full hybrid to be produced.
Petrol-electric hybrid technology has been around for a while but Peugeot has combined a more fuel efficient 2-litre 163 bhp HDi diesel engine with a 37bhp electric motor.
It means that the 3008 diesel engine provides fuel consumption figures of 74.4mpg, and CO2 emissions from just 99g/km, which is exempt from road tax.
This family crossover vehicle is absolutely jam-packed with an intimidating array of technology.
You turn on the ignition and the dials spin around like a Geiger counter after a nuclear meltdown.
Providing you have your foot on the brake the 3008 is placed into electric mode. If you don’t have your foot on the brake everything goes into a sulk, the heads-up display sign and media screen descend back into the dashboard and you have to start again.
As you pull away the car runs completely in electric mode, which is silent and takes a little getting used to. It feels like you are rolling forwards or backwards.
There are four operating modes:
auto, where the entire system is automatically controlled for the greatest efficiency
sport, which has quicker gear changes than normal mode and combines the engine and motor for the greatest performance;
4x4, where the rear wheels are driven by the electric motor and the front wheels by the HDi diesel engine. At low speed it allows ‘all-terrain’ capabilities equivalent to those of an SUV.
ZEV (zero emissions vehicle), where the diesel engine is programmed to kick in to answer the call for more acceleration. As long as the batteries are sufficiently charged, this mode means it can operate as a silent city runaround with no emissions whatsoever.
In a nutshell, the electric battery powers the 3008 at low speeds, and the diesel kicks in at higher speeds and when you want acceleration, or four-wheel drive.
Along with that, when you are decelerating, the electric battery is recharged. You can follow all this as a digital diagram directly in front of the driver, which gets a bit distracting as you drive along.
Out of the electronics lab and out on the road, all this translates into a supremely comfortable and accomplished ride.
The 3008 is a very grown-up car, powered by an engine of the strong and silent type.
Despite the shape of the car, the Peugeot doesn’t suffer from any great noise from the wind rushing over it and there is an impressively small amount of noise coming through from the road surface.
The engine itself is silent in electric mode and very refined in diesel mode. It makes both town driving and cruising at motorway speeds equally relaxing experiences.
In normal mode the Peugeot was occasionally slow to change gear when needed but it was surprisingly swift to reply when asked for more power generally.
There is also a manual option available, where paddles behind the steering wheel can be used to change up and down.
In Sport mode it has even more of an impressive turn of acceleration and it’s nice to know that when the mercury drops and the roads turn white there’s four-wheel drive capability available
Steering is precise but light and there’s not an enormous amount of feedback on bends, but there’s less body roll than you might anticipate when you consider that the 3008 is a tall car.
The ride is incredibly smooth and soaks up bumps and potholes with aplomb.
Clever electronics aside, the 3008 is a good-looking car, with a big, bold front end complete with Vauxhall’s prominent rampant lion, sloping windscreen and blunt rear end. Inside the cabin things are understandably high tech but the finish is beautiful.
A big central console dominates the cabin and separates the driver from the passenger. Some of the controls are laid out in a toggle format, which are a little difficult to operate, and the media and satnav controls require a stretch to reach – it could benefit with controls on the steering wheel.
But Peugeot have ensured that the interior is a class act – the materials are all soft to the touch and look smart, durable and well bolted together.
The cabin has a light and airy feel, too, thanks to a lot of light coming through the windows and, in my test car, the enormous panoramic sunroof which takes up most of the available roof area.
It means that visibility is good all around although the pillars at the rear are quite thick when reversing.
The 3008 is a good-size car and there are acres of headroom in the front, plus a decent amount of legroom, although the peg for the driver to rest his left foot seemed to be, for me, in an awkward position, and I found myself having to put my foot underneath to stretch out more.
Legroom is tighter in the rear, although there is still plenty of headroom.
There is plenty of space in the boot, too, despite the fact that the hybrid version’s battery means a fair amount of space is lost compared to the standard 3008.
It’s divided into a couple of sections and the rear seats spring flat as well by using a couple of handy buttons just inside the hatchback door. The rear tailgate also drops flat, which makes loading heavy objects much easier than hoisting them over the lip.
The 3008 is a smart, comfortable car that is looking to the future.
There is a decent amount of standard equipment available – entry-level cars come with electric front windows and air-con – but you have to upgrade to Active trim for alloys, automatic lights and wipers, parking sensors, cruise control, powered rear windows and Bluetooth.
SR adds sat-nav and Allure models get climate control, a panoramic roof and a heads-up mph display directly in the driver’s eyeline.
And it certainly makes economic sense. The 3008’s statistics speak for itself. Around 74 miles per gallon – almost 1,000 miles in the tank of the SR version – and no road tax.
The main stumbling block is that at around £28,000 you’re paying a lot more for this hybrid version that the standard 3008.
But Peugeot has a good record for reliability and safety, too, which should mean long periods of trouble-free motoring.
The technology for diesel-electric hybrids will continue to be honed over the coming years, but it’s already at an impressive stage with this one.
Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 Figures
Engine: 2-litre diesel hybrid
Transmission: six-speed automatic
0-60: 8.5 seconds
Top speed: 118mph (limited)