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Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 99g

Click to view picture gallery“Peugeot has just written a new
  chapter in motoring history by
  launching the world’s first diesel
  full hybrid vehicle
the 3008
  HYbrid4 pairs a diesel engine with
  an electric motor

WHEREAS OTHER CAR MANUFACTURERS have stuck with a petrol/electric pairing for their hybrids, Peugeot believes the diesel/electric combination offers stronger advantages: better fuel economy, lower CO2 emissions, less particulate emissions (due to their DPFS filter technology) and more torque, which in turn means a lower-powered electric motor and smaller battery pack with savings on space and weight.

The combination of the fuel-efficient 163bhp 2.0-litre HDi diesel engine and a 37bhp electric motor is, Peugeot say, the most advantageous combination the HYbrid4's diesel engine provides a Combined Cycle fuel consumption of 74.4mpg with tailpipe emissions of 99g/km.

Because of its torquey and economical 221lb ft diesel engine, the HYbrid4 is probably the best hybrid car to date. The added benefit comes from the relatively low power (37bhp) but high torque (147lb ft) electric motor used to boost performance. The standard four-wheel drive function and an electric power propulsion mode for future zero emission city zones are also strong reasons to buy.

“The diesel engine
powers the front wheels; the electric motor
drives only the rears.
All versions use
Peugeot’s six-speed
electronic automated
manual gearbox
and it works better with
the additional torque —
in the HYbrid4
s more like
the now commonplace
twin-clutch semi-
The overall higher purchase price is something of a damper even though it is competitive for a hybrid, as is the relatively short range (3-4 miles at best) the vehicle can travel using solely electric power.

Another drawback is that diesel, being the primary fuel source, attracts a 3% levy, so fleet and company car users pay 13% BIK instead of the usual 10% hybrid tax.

However, road tax is 0 and drivers who lease their cars will benefit from the HYbrid4's stronger residuals predicted to be around 1,725 better over three years than ordinary diesel or petrol versions.

Externally, the 3008 HYbrid4 has some bespoke albeit minimal styling changes but they're barely noticeable. Under the skin, the rear suspension is a more compact and sophisticated independent multilink set-up to make room for the electric motor, battery pack and electronic control unit.

The diesel engine powers the front wheels only; the electric motor drives the rear wheels only. And the diesel and electric power systems are not connected mechanically only by a high capacity electric cable.

All versions use Peugeot's six-speed electronic automated manual gearbox and it works better with the additional torque in the HYbrid4 it's more like the now commonplace twin-clutch semi-automatic transmissions offered by a number of other car brands.

The specification for the 99g/km model includes an electronic stability programme, climate control air conditioning, cloth upholstery, automatic electronic parking brake, four electric windows, power mirrors, rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, rear spoiler, and 16-inch alloys with low rolling resistance tyres.

Load space is a reasonable 354 litres; with the rear seats folded down this increases to 1,435 litres for the record the non-hybrid 3008 musters 432 to 1,604 litres but the hybrid needs more space under the load floor for its electric power unit and batteries.

Talking of which, four driving modes can selected via the rotary dial on the centre console. Select ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) mode and the electric motor powers the rear wheels so long as there's enough juice in the batteries; if not, the diesel engine cuts in to top them up. In theory, this mode would be ideal for town and city zero emission zones; however, using the air conditioning does severely limit the battery power-only driving range.

Select 4WD and the diesel engine (powering the front wheels) and electric motor (driving the rears) work in tandem to boost traction. As you'd expect, Sport mode sharpens throttle response and quickens up the electronic transmission's gearshifts, with the electric motor providing extra torque.

“Driving the HYbrid4
last week in the sun-
drenched and very hot
Brittany region of France,
the 99g/km version
with 16-inch wheels
and low rolling
resistance tyres returned
a real-life 49.5mpg
Most of the time drivers will select Auto and leave the car's 'brain' to take care of everything. With the two power units working in harmony, driving is impressive the diesel engine is strong, and the electric motor ensures a linear surge in both power and torque.

Driving the HYbrid4 last week in the sun-drenched and very hot Brittany region of France, the 99g/km version with 16-inch wheels and low rolling resistance tyres returned a real-life 49.5mpg. Good but significantly short of the official 74.4mpg.

Driving the 104g/km version on a near-identical route but with 17-inch wheels and normal tyres, fuel consumption was 44.7mpg again, nowhere near the official figure of 70.6mpg.

And just so you know, both these routes were driven in a legal and considerate way and in keeping with the manner most owners will drive their cars. Which makes the HYbrid4 no better economy-wise than a regular diesel-powered 3008 but with tailpipe emissions under 100g/km, it's exempt from London's Congestion Charge. Incidentally, the latest generation Stop & Start system is fitted as standard to all HYbrid4 models.

To fully test the ZEV mode, we drove the HYbrid4 with the 17-inch wheels on an urban route at these low speeds and with the A/C on, the fuel economy was exactly 62mpg. In reality, the electric motor was solely in use part of the time and when it ran out of power, or going uphill, the diesel engine would cut in. Clearly the system works, although it does have its limitations.

Against? Battery power alone has a very short driving range; jittery ride (worse on the larger 17-inch wheels); doesn't get close to the official fuel economy figures and a very low just 500kg braked towing weight.

On the plus side the diesel-electric HYbrid4 is a genuine 'world first' with low, tax-friendly CO2 emissions. It also serves up its power nicely and, to date, it's the best hybrid to drive except maybe for the Lexus Hybrids which use their electric power to boost performance rather than for saving fuel. David Miles

Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 99g | 26,995
Maximum speed: 118mph | 0-62mph: 9.1 seconds | Overall test MPG: 49.5mpg
Power: 200bhp | Torque: 368lb ft | CO2 99g/km