What is it?
The world’s first diesel hybrid, no less. Diesel engines are more expensive than petrols, and hybrid mechanisms aren’t cheap. But Peugeot has pared back the cost by using a mechanically simple system. The existing front-drive diesel engine is retained, while an electric motor drives the back wheels. The 3008 makes a great launch vehicle for the system, because this crossover was previously front-drive only. This one is both automatic and a 4WD.
In town and suburban driving, the two power sources integrate smoothly, even on the prototype we tested. It accelerates gently away on electric power, then the main engine cuts in and does the work. If you’re in a jam, it can go a couple of miles on electric alone, in lovely silence.
The gearbox is Peugeot’s flappy paddle, which is usually clunky, but on the HYbrid4, a little pulse of electric power during the shift helps make it smoother. Diesel and electric combine to give you useful overtaking punch, with a 200bhp total output. The HYbrid4 retains the excellent ride and steering of the rest of the 3008 range – among the best of any small crossover. (That said, if you want the 3008’s most responsive, smooth and enjoyable powertrain for maximum twisty- road fun, you’d still have to take the fuel consumption hit and opt for the front-drive 1.6 petrol turbo version.) Off-road, the hybrid diesel-electric combination is perfectly able to tackle steep gravelly slopes, and on winter tyres it’d be great for snow and mud.
On the inside
As with any crossover, the high eye-point is one of the main attractions. But there’s decent space too, and a useful split tailgate that has a drop-down bumper to help you slide big objects in. There’s plenty of kit, though you might want to splash out for the optional colour-screen nav which can also display lots of real-time info about the fuel you’re saving – a useful economy coaching aid. Peugeot’s interior quality is pretty good these days, and so the launch edition, with leather trim everywhere including the dash, avoids the lipstick-on-a-pig look.
If you’re a company car driver, this thing will be wonderfully good for your tax bill, thanks to its super- low CO2 number. Plus it’s exempt from London’s Congestion Charge. If you buy it yourself, be aware that the 3008 range in general has depreciated more than the rival Nissan Qashqai. Hybrid fuel consumption isn’t a simple issue, either – basically, they do very well in town but are worse than normal diesels on the motorway. Peugeot does say the 2013 model is more efficient, though: officially, the base car now tops 80mpg.