Peugeot's new 3008 HYbrid4 looks perfectly normal on the outside and indeed if you pop open the bonnet you will find a perfectly normal 163bhp 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo diesel which as you would expect in this day and age also has a start/stop system. But plonk yourself down on the floor and stick your head under the back end and you will find some interesting and unique battery-powered hybrid voodoo.
Cunningly squeezed in among the rear suspension members so as not to take up any more space than absolutely essential is a 1.1kWh nickel-metal hydride battery and a 20kW (27bhp) electric motor connected to the back wheels.
There’s no mechanical linkage between from and rear drive wheels at all and there’s no option to plug it into the mains. That will arrive along with a more powerful lithium-ion battery pack early next year in the plug-in version.
In the current set-up the battery pack gets its charge from the traditional hybrid sources of regenerative braking and an 8kW starter/alternator connected to the diesel engine. The system gives the HYbrid4 four driving modes, hence the name.
In Auto the car uses a combination of diesel and electric drive to maximise economy. Stick it into ZEV - or Zero Emission Vehicle - and you can drive at speeds up to 40mph over very short distances using just the electrically powered rear wheels.
In Sport mode the engine map changes, the gearbox swaps the cogs more aggressively and the electric motor lets its hair down and delivers an extra 7kW (10bhp) of power to put a combined 200bhp onto the road.
Finally there’s a continuous four-wheel drive mode for handling the rough and sticky stuff. Should you happen to need all-wheel drive when the battery is depleted the alternator will send power directly to the rear drive motors ensuring that four-wheel drive is always available.
Does it work? In a word, yes. In a day of mixed A and B-road driving and some off-road mud plugging I came away rather impressed by the HYbrid4’s abilities.
To start with the official 0-60 time is 8.5 seconds but it’s the mid-range pull that you really notice. The 50-75mph sprint takes only 6 seconds. And that’s in Auto mode. In Sport you can slice a second off each.
Off-road performance is naturally limited by the tyres and ground clearance but the system always finds traction and always keeps you pointing in the right direction. Unless you live on top of a mountain this is all the 4WD you will ever need.
The ZEV mode is almost superfluous because in Auto the system does a very good job of keeping to electric drive only where possible in the name of fuel economy, only firing up the diesel engine when required, It has handy though for sneaking around car parks or for inching forward in slow moving traffic without the risk of using even one drop of DERV if your right foot is a bit twitchy.
What effect does all this hybrid tech have on economy? According to the test figures the HYbrid4 should average 70.5mpg and emit only 104g/km of CO2 compared to 43.5mpg and 169g/km for the £4,500 cheaper non-hybrid 3008 with the same diesel engine.
If the the 3008 has a failing it’s the same one that reared its ugly head in the 508 e-HDi - the semi-automatic manual box just isn’t the smoothest thing around and in suburban traffic it hunts up and down the ratios like a badly set-up automatic. Luckily you can circumvent this by putting the transmission into manual and using the paddle selectors on the steering column to change gear when you rather than the gearbox want to.
MyDadRocks Verdict: Peugeot’s HYbrid4 diesel-electric powertrain really does move the hybrid game on and delivers an impressive combination of power, economy and four-wheel drive utility. The cherry on the cake though is that we will be seeing the system in various models and guises over the next few years not just in the rather utilitarian 3008.
MyDadRocks Rating: 7.5/10
Price: from £26.995
Review by Pete Winder