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Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 99g

Click to view picture gallery“The Seventies are here not the
  era that marked the fading-out of the
  hippie culture and the world-wide
  boom of the Green movement, but the
  time of 70mpg cars…


EVERY MONTH ANOTHER CAR CAPABLE OF 70+MPG makes the motoring headlines. While this is good news both for drivers' pockets and the environment, many of these models don't, in real-life, manage to match their official fuel consumption figures...

Achieving these magic numbers is generally done with the use of hybrid power, the most common to date being petrol-electric units (such as Toyota's Prius). But Peugeot have recently gone one better with their 'world first' 3008 HYbrid4 that pairs a diesel engine (still the most efficient and versatile choice of power for any vehicle) with an electric motor.

The result is a pound-stretching official combined cycle figure of 74.3mpg combined with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions (so no road tax and no London Congestion Charge) and substantially more torque — particularly important because the extra 'grunt' means the battery pack for the electric motor can be smaller and lighter so leaving more room for people.

“Apart from the
impressively high overall
standard of fit
and finish and materials,
stand-out design
highlights include the
elegant selector lever
that looks futuristic
enough to have
come from the flight deck
of the
Starship Enterprise
...”
There are currently three HYbrid4 3008 versions, badged '99g', 'SR', and '104g' — all use Peugeot's 163bhp 2.0-litre HDi turbodiesel partnered with an electric motor that generates 37bhp: the turbodiesel engine drives the front wheels; the rear wheels are driven electrically as and when required. Also standard on all versions is a six-speed electronically-controlled automated manual gearbox and a fuel-saving stop-start system.

All HYbrid4 3008 models are very well specced — the cheapest (£26,995) 99g model tested here boasts a four-wheel drive function (the '4' at the end of its name), an electronic stability programme, dual-zone climate control AirCon, automatic electronic parking brake with Hill Assist, electric windows (all one-shot up/down), sunglasses holder, seatbelt usage display, auto-dim rear-view mirror, puddle-lights in the door mirror housings, rear parking aid, cruise control with speed limiter, powerfold mirrors (automatically on locking or on demand), remote electric child locks on rear doors, auto lights 'n' wipes, tinted rear windows, alloy wheels, a roof spoiler, LED running lights, and a full set of airbags.

Desirable extras fitted included Peugeot's Connect 3D Media Navigation, the indispensable Head-Up Display, and the sooo-must-have Panoramic glass roof (a one-shot powered blind keeps the sizzle at bay).

Slide behind the wheel and you'll be impressed. It may cost £27K but the cabin looks a good deal more expensive. The driver is especially well pampered with a logically laid-out dash and centre console plus an 8-way power-adjustable seat and a lovely to hold and use flat-bottomed leather wheel. Add in the raised 'command' driving position and unspoilt visibility and you have a recipe for relaxed driving.

Apart from the impressively high overall standard of fit and finish and materials, standout design highlights include the elegant selector lever that looks futuristic enough to have come from the flight deck of the Starship Enterprise.

Adding to the executive ambience is the optional and superbly comfortable two-tone leather upholster, while good for the winter months are fast-acting three-stage heated front seats. Even the headrests adjust effortlessly and the doors open and close beautifully. Cabin storage is equally well thought-out with big door pockets and a massive cooled storage bin between the front seats.

The 3D SatNav display
folds out from the top
of the fascia and
is straightforward to use.
If you know the way,
you can press a button
and fold it away...”
The 3D SatNav display folds out from the top of the fascia and is straightforward to use. If you know how to get there, you can press a button and fold it away. There's also a jukebox function and DVD player.

A Head-Up display ensures you need never take your eyes off the road; your road speed is projected onto a transparent panel that extends from the top of the instrument panel and the crisp orangey-yellow figures are easily visible all the time you're looking ahead without ever being distracting.

The first time you use one of these systems you'll be amazed at how much of the time you're travelling faster that you thought. These snap-happy speed camera days, when it's possible to lose your licence in just a few hours unintentionally exceeding the limits, a head-up display really is essential kit.

Inside, the 3008 feels big, spacious and airy and there's plenty of headroom — everything you'd hope for in a family crossover. But measure the outside and you'll find this 3008 is only 4.3m long — great news for parking and manoeuvring.

And great news, too, if you're travelling with three adult passengers because then everyone can really stretch out and enjoy the trip. While three can co-exist very agreeably in the back, once you've sampled all that room and comfort in the two outer seats you'll be very reluctant to give up the centre armrest and share! Rear passengers also have retractable mesh sun/privacy blinds built into their doors.

Walk round to the back and lift the tailgate. There's a versatile boot and under the floor a large removable washable tray (40" x 13" x 5"), all made smoothly accessible by the split tailgate. Incidentally, you'll also find a pair of handy, out-of-sight storage bins in the rear footwells.

The tailgate's lower section not only makes loading a doddle but when visiting the great outdoors with the family also provides a convenient 'leg-swinging' perch from where to enjoy your picnic. Alternatively, you could eat in; the front passenger seat converts to a table.

The tailgate’s lower
section not only makes
loading a doddle but
when visiting the great
outdoors with the
family also provides a
convenient perch
from where to
enjoy your picnic...”
The 60:40 split rear seats can be folded in a jiffy thanks to quick-release handles mounted in the rear load area — do so, and you'll have a perfectly flat loadbay floor with room for 1,435 litres of cargo.

Gear lever in Neutral (there is no Park position); with your foot on the brake, turn the key — 'Ready' shows in the power meter-cum-rev-counter dial. Move the selector lever to Auto.

Lift off the brake and squeeze the accelerator and you're away — gliding forward stealthily without as much as a mechanical sigh.

The first few times you do this it feels truly uncanny (or to use the irksome buzz word of the London Olympics, 'surreal'). As your right foot calls for more power the system fires-up the diesel engine — and the switchover is brilliantly seamless.

For the record, the parking brake is released automatically as you move off; and when you stop, you simply snick the selector back to N and turn off the ignition, at which point the parking brake is applied automatically. Simple, n'est pas?

The central driver's display can show a variety of driver-selected screens: the real-time status of active power sources (diesel/electric); a compass; range and mpg; and trip information. After the initial interest in how the power was being managed, we settled on the more pragmatic range and mpg readout.

Even as a stand-alone diesel, the torquey 221lb ft, 163bhp 2.0-litre HDi serves up crisp acceleration; even more smartly when the diesel and electric (147lb ft and 37bhp) are working harmoniously as a team to produce 200bhp and 368lb ft split 147lb ft to the rear wheels and 221lb ft to the fronts — perfect for swift, safe overtaking.

However, if you like to be the one making the decisions, snick the selector back into Manual and you can make sequential shifts using the steering-mounted paddles whenever you wish.

The nice thing is that you need never think about what's going on in the power train because a high-tech manager (PTMU) does absolutely everything for you, constantly switching or mixing the two power supplies for optimal economy or dynamic performance depending on what you've dialled up.

“Even as a stand-alone
diesel, the torquey
2.0-litre serves up crisp
acceleration; even more
smartly when the
diesel and electric
motors are working as
a team to produce
200bhp and 368lb ft —
perfect for swift,
safe overtaking
...”
Naturally all this clever hybrid technology doesn't come cheap which is why a HYbrid4 3008 costs around £5K more than a two-wheel driven model with 2.0-litre turbodiesel mated to the same electronically-controlled manual gearbox (EGC).

Peugeot's EGC has been criticised by some for its noticeably 'stepped' shifts although it's never given us reason to complain. As it happens, the HYbrid4's stronger torque seems to have smoothed out its changes considerably, and in our test car it all worked faultlessly. It also proved very astute — however and wherever we were driving, the EGC always kept us in the most appropriate gear.

A week's hard motoring over a mixed bag of roads including motorways and country lanes and some stop-start commuter traffic, averaged 46.6mpg. Yes, that's some way short of the official 74.3mpg figure...

However, just to be sure, we also took it for a dedicated drive around town on a swelteringly hot day with the AirCon on 'ice-duty'; sticking to below 30mph in the silent-running all-electric mode (the diesel still cuts in to boost power for overtaking and inclines), consumption touched the mid-sixties so the potential is there for 70+mpg.

Even so, near-50mpg while consistently driving spiritedly is still commendable given that this is a car that definitely encourages you to zip along — and we did!

Four-wheel drive is achieved with both units working in tandem: power going to the front wheels from the diesel; and to the rear wheels from the electric motor.

4WD is just one of four modes selectable using the centre console-mounted rotary dial — engaged, it noticeably enhances traction and grip. Not hardcore Rocky Mountain stuff but all-weather competence over snow-covered roads and difficult ground such as mud and sand.

There's also ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle for, obviously, zero emission city zones — you'd better believe it, they're coming). In ZEV only the electric motor is active, sending power to the rear wheels for as long as there's enough juice in the batteries at speeds up to 36mph — if it runs low, the diesel engine automatically cuts in and tops it up. Oh, and watch out for pedestrians because along with a total absence of emissions there's also a total absence of noise! And that warning goes doubly when you're reversing.

“The HYbrid4 rides well
enough to please both
the passengers and their
driver — it
s nicely taut;
not too firm...
there
s minimal body
roll and you can cleave
through the twists
and turns
on country roads with
confidence
...”
Sport mode sees 'oomph' substantially boosted by the electric motor, with quicker gear changes at higher revs than normal and power laid down through all four wheels. This is a great way to drive the 3008 — we used it a lot — as the HYbrid4's handling is certainly good enough to exploit for fun.

Alternatively, chill and let the Auto setting do it all for you — and very nicely it does it too. For those of you who haven't yet tried a hybrid, the HYbrid4's 'box drives not unlike the increasingly popular twin-clutch semi-automatic transmissions as used to good effect by the likes of Audi and VW. In other words, easy-peasy.

The HYbrid4 rides well enough to please both the passengers and their driver: it's nicely taut, and not too firm. Shapely, well-padded seats add to the pleasure. Handling-wise, there's minimal body roll and you can cleave through the twists and turns on country roads with confidence.

On the move, the diesel and electric power sources work harmoniously and serve up strong and eager performance, and make Peugeot's 'world first' hybrid probably the best driving hybrid you can currently buy.

Admittedly, running on pure battery power doesn't take you terribly far (2 miles), but then you don't need to as the idea of diesel-electric hybrid power is for the two to work hand-in-glove with each other, helping each other to maximise power, economy and traction.

Driving a 'world first' may give you a buzz — as might the tax-friendly CO2 emissions (and happy-ever-after road tax: none ever payable from the very first day you park it on your drive).

But if you enjoy driving (it's not illegal yet) you won't have to hang your head in shame because this hybrid crossover is a pleasure to drive whether it's slow in the city or fast on the motorway. And it's brilliant to travel in. Now what could be a better reason to buy a car than that! — MotorBar


Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 99g | £26,995
Maximum speed: 118mph | 0-62mph: 8.5 seconds | Overall test MPG: 46.6mpg
Power: 200bhp | Torque: 368lb ft | CO2 99g/km