When it comes to hybrids
, until now it has been the products of either Toyota (and its upmarket Lexus sibling) or Honda that I have driven. So, it was with more that a little interest that I seized the opportunity to sample a European hybrid in the shape of the new Peugeot
The Hybrid4 is based on the by-now familiar Peugeot 3008 and none the worse for it. In appearance it looks like a merging of estate car, MPV and SUV. More importantly for a marque that has produced some rather dowdy looking cars in recent years, this one looks attractive and interesting not just outside, but inside too.
However, I tested the Peugeot 3008 in 2010, so you can look back to that for the general story.
Here, I will concentrate on the hybrid aspects, other than to note that the boot space is reduced from 512 litres to 354, to allow for the electric motor and batteries.
What makes the Hybrid4 unusual is that the 37 bhp electric motor powers the rear wheels, while the internal combustion engine powers the front. That means you can, effectively, drive all four wheels (and there is a 4x4 setting for this) – useful for tricky conditions where traction is limited.
Also unusual is that the conventional power comes from a turbo diesel.
Turbo diesels are, of course, extremely common in a world where good economy and lower emissions have become so important. But, all the other hybrids I can think of have petrol engines. That’s probably because, particularly for Japanese manufacturers, the USA is a big potential market and the average American would never think of using diesel in anything other than a truck or a commercial vehicle.
As you would expect with a hybrid, the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 will run in electric mode whenever possible, to minimise emissions and fuel usage. Indeed, like the other hybrids I have driven, you can select the ZEF (zero emissions vehicle) setting to run in all-electric mode (at least until the batteries charge runs low).
In normal driving mode the Hybrid4 will juggle between electric motor and turbo diesel imperceptibly. At low throttle openings the electric motor may be sufficient. Demand more power, however, and the 163 bhp turbo-diesel cuts in. Demand more power still and the 37 bhp electric motor will work in tandem with the conventional power unit to produce a remarkably handy round figure of 200 bhp.
Using full power, the Peugeot Hybrid4 can accelerate 0 to 62mph in a very respectable 8.5 seconds.
When I realised the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 used the automated manual gearbox that I disliked so much in recent Peugeot and Citroen tests, my heart sank. However, this car was a more pleasant experience.
Whereas the Peugeot 508
and Citroen C5
frustrated with their on-off-on acceleration that got heads nodding uncomfortably, the Hybrid4 was considerably improved. If you still don’t trust the automatic to change for you, there are paddles behind the wheel for manual shifts.
The official combined fuel-consumption of the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 is a headline grabbing 70.6 mpg. Perhaps more amazing is the claimed urban economy of 68.9 mpg (thanks, presumably, to running on electric for much of the urban cycle). Sadly, I could not replicate these figures and on a mixture of country and city driving I got 36 mpg (still very creditable for a sizeable car) and on a longer journey I easily managed 44 mpg.
Although two Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 models squeeze just one gramme below the magic 100 g/km carbon dioxide emissions target to qualify for a complimentary tax disk in the UK, the test car produces 5g more, putting it in band B. For such a sizeable car that is still very impressive. Ironically, the progress that manufacturers are making in this aspect is said to be causing the UK government to ponder a rethink of the tax banding.
The price is a potential stumbling block. The Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 starts at £26,995. The model I drove costs £28,495. Add leather and the panoramic glass roof from the test car and you are knocking on £30,000. But, then, think of all the technology that goes into producing a car like this.