At launch, Peugeot's innovative 3008 HYbrid4 was the world's first diesel hybrid car to go into production. Now it's been improved. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
It's the obvious fuel efficient and low emissions solution - a diesel-powered hybrid. This is still a rare thing but Peugeot's 3008 HYbrid4 Crossover has blazed a trail that others are certain to follow, taking the renowned fuel efficiency of a diesel engine and pairing it with an electric motor. The result is super-low emissions in-town motoring, along with effective, economical long distance driving. Let's check out this restyled version.
Asked which car manufacturer's badge is on the nose of the world's best-selling zero emissions car, most of us would probably opt for a Japanese marque. In fact, Peugeot has been a key technological innovator in the field and as far back as 1995, launched their 106 Electric. That car was sold for eight years up until 2003 and with almost 10,000 built, is responsible for the Peugeot Lion's status as maker of the globe's most popular zero emissions vehicle, a clean, green tradition now continued with their electric iOn model. The improved 3008 HYbrid4 crossover we're looking at here isn't all-electric but a lot of it is and that part benefits from a decade and a half of proven engineering and all-electric know-how. In addition, of course, to an engine from one of the leaders in diesel refinement. The combination of the two things offers a unique solution to the challenge of high fuel consumption and low emissions in an effective motoring package. Almost as clever is the award-winning 3008 Crossover model that all this neat technology sits in, this car a mix of hatchback, MPV and SUV with versatility its byword. By adding tax-beating, emissions-free and fuel-sipping technology to this package, Peugeot could well have hit on a winning hybrid formula.
This car's combined output through all four wheels of 200bhp is pretty impressive, especially as along with it comes a total torque figure of 500Nm - prodigious pulling power indeed. The 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel part of the equation delivers a maximum of 163bhp at 3,750rpm and up to 300Nm of torque at 1,580 rpm through the front wheels, while the electric motor delivers a maximum of 200Nm of torque and 37bhp to the rear wheels. On the road, that translates to a 0-62mph dash in a fraction under nine seconds. The secondary advantage with the electric motor being at the rear is that it's placed optimally to help smooth out gear changes from the six-speed sequential and electronically-controlled transmission, so you get a silky shift, whichever of the various driving modes you're in. These include 'ZEV' (zero emissions), 'Normal', 'All Wheel' and 'Sports' modes, activated via a neat control selector mounted on the centre console. You'd use 'ZEV' in a low speed urban setting where you can put up with the performance downsides of having nothing coming out of the tail pipe. At the other end of the scale, 'Sports' is for the open road, giving a boost in acceleration when needed that frees all 200bhp, drawing from the electric motor and diesel engine as required. In between, there's an Auto setting that ensures optimum fuel consumption and performance. With the 2.0-litre diesel engine at the front and the electric motor at the back, Peugeot have worked hard to deliver a car with a balanced weight, split front and rear for improved handling. It helps in this respect that the suspension set-up has been engineered in harmony with the electric motor, that motor indeed housed as part of the multi-arm rear suspension. The all-wheel drive layout helps in slippery conditions of course, working with the ESP stability control system to ensure that diesel and/or electric power is delivered to those wheels front and rear which have most traction.
Design and Build
Like other 3008 models, this one has benefitted from a styling update. There's now a sleeker front grille and fog light surrounds, both edged in chrome. The headlights feature an LED signature and chrome projector components while xenon lights offer automatic height and directional adjustment. At the back, there are dark tinted light clusters with 'floating claw' LED lamps that seem to give a 3D effect. Inside, the 'Head-Up' display now features full-colour imagery, with separate shades for different information, while a reversing camera also makes manoeuvres easier by displaying the area immediately behind the vehicle. Inside, for the driver, Peugeot hopes that the ambience is more 'aircraft cockpit' than normal car cabin. The dash design ensures everything can be seen, reached and controlled as easily as possible, thanks to a layout which majors on ergonomic efficiency. The driving position is high-set like many other SUV-like Crossover models but the general standard of cabin quality is ahead of most of those. The top allure HYbrid4 model boasts two-tone leather trim, while keeping the driver informed as to which power sources are driving the car is the job of a 7" colour display screen. Some hybrids seem still to struggle with interior packaging as batteries eat into luggage and passenger room. Not so with the HYbrid4, as Peugeot's experience in this field has resulted in a car that packages the rear suspension and the major electronic components into a space-saving design. The result is a load capacity of 420-litres under the parcel shelf, with a further 66-litres of stowage available under the boot floor. That grows to a truly impressive 1501-litres of space once the rear seats and front passenger seat have been folded flat with the flick of a few levers. Also useful is the split lower tailgate that opens to reveal a flat boot floor including helpful tie-down hooks.
Market and Model
As a diesel hybrid, Peugeot has carved out an entirely new niche for itself, with no direct competitors, at least in terms of powertrain. There are of course well established hybrids such as the Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight which mix petrol engines with electric technology but this 3008's objective not so much about raising the hybrid bar, as setting a new benchmark altogether. In terms of bodyshape of course, there are other more conventionally-powered Nissan Qashqai or Skoda Yeti-style Crossover models, but nothing that's really quite the same. Which is just as well, given the £27,000 asking price that puts this variant well above even the plushest and most powerful conventional models in the 3008 line-up. Of course, you are getting plenty of technology for that - two motors for a start. As well as plenty of equipment, the amount of which will depend on your choice between the base Active variant or the leather-lined Allure model which costs £1,000 more and has bigger wheels that'll hit your running cost returns. Both variants include staple 3008 items like air conditioning, a high quality stereo and power almost everything. And of course, bear in mind that you're also getting all-wheel drive, a six-speed electronic manual sequential shift gearbox, an automatic Stop/Start system to save fuel and stability control. The Head-Up display is another nice touch and safety features include the Distance Alert System to help keep you a safe distance back from the vehicle ahead, plus Parallel Park Assist to help slot you into the tightest spaces. The electronic handbrake links to the Hill Assist function to stop you drifting backwards on uphill junctions. And there's also the Peugeot Connect 3-D media and sat nav system, linking USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
Cost of Ownership
To make life easier behind the wheel, the car's Stop/Start system automatically places the BlueHDi diesel engine in 'stand-by' mode when you're stuck in non-moving traffic or waiting at a red light. The car will then pull away using the zero emissions electric motor, before switching seamlessly to diesel as speed picks up. Or you can lock it into the 'zero emission' setting with the turn of a knob and it will stay in electric mode until you either change your drive mode or stamp on the accelerator - at which point the diesel will kick in. But will this HYbrid4 add up on the balance sheet? Its asking price is certainly high, but for motorists doing big annual mileages, that could be worth paying for a car that will return in excess of 85mpg on the combined cycle in base Active form or 80.7mpg in the bigger-wheeled Allure variant. The CO2 returns are 85 and 90g/km respectively. Either way, there's no road tax licence fee and company car drivers get a BIK rating at the lowest 10% rate.
Peugeot have taken an interesting approach with this 3008 HYbrid4 by mixing diesel, rather than petrol power, with proven electric technology. The world's first diesel hybrid would certainly have been more frugal still had the French brand gone for an engine smaller than 2.0-litres in size to partner the electric motor. But that would have delivered feeble performance at odds with this car's necessarily high asking price. We can see a small but significant band of eco-conscious buyers convincing themselves that this 3008's sticker is worth paying. It's well equipped for a start and the Crossover five-door body is a versatile and spacious one. Oh and 83mpg combined economy speaks for itself. The recent improvements don't amount to much but this was already a very clever Crossover indeed. Early adopters form an orderly queue.