Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4
Driving the world’s first diesel electric hybrid
Car company PRs are always a chirpy bunch, but with a practised eye you can tell when they think they are really on to something. That's currently the case with the folk from Peugeot, who are like a dog with two tails to wag when talking about the new 3008 HYbrid4, the world’s first diesel electric hybrid.
The world’s first diesel electric hybrid
Before we start to delve deeper into the HYbrid4 system, let me make it clear this is a not a review of the 3008. Peugeot’s big five-door hatch has been knocking about for a couple of years and as far as practical, spacious five-door semi-MPV vehicles go it’s not a bad - though hardly pretty - old bus.
In fact, the 3008 is even less the point here because the HYbrid4 system is modular, so it will start appearing all over the shop and not only in Peugeots - next up will be the Peugeot 508 in high-riding RXH form - but in Citroëns too. Personally, I’d rather like to have it in a Citroën DS4.
On the outside, the same old 3008 that's been on the road for the last few years
Upfront, the 3008 HYbrid4 has a perfectly normal 163bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel which, as you might expect in this day and age, also has a start/stop system. It’s at the back that the battery-powered voodoo lurks.
Cunningly squeezed in among the rear-suspension members so it doesn't take up any more space than absolutely necessary is a 1.1kWh nickel-metal hydride battery and a 20kW (27bhp) electric motor that drives the rear wheels.
Not a bad old bus for a five-door mini-MPV
There’s no mechanical linkage between front- and rear-drive wheels at all. Only the cabling to carry power and data runs from fore to aft. There’s no external charge facility, either. That will arrive along with a more powerful lithium-ion battery pack early in 2013 in the plug-in versions of HYbrid4.
Hybrid, high tech
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. It’s a clever combination that gives the HYbrid4 four driving modes, hence the name.
There's no linkage at all between front and rear drives
In Auto, the default setting, the car uses a combination of diesel and electric drive to maximise economy. Pop it into ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) mode 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.
Drive modes: 2WD as EV (top) and 4WD hybrid (bottom)
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 low-speed four-wheel drive is always available.
Does it work? In a word, yes. In a day of mixed road driving and some off-road mud plugging at the West Midlands Safari Park, I came away highly impressed by the HYbrid4’s abilities.
ZEV mode (top) is more economical but Sport mode (bottom) is more fun
To start with, it’s a pretty rapid lump when you put your foot down. The official 0-60 time is 8.5 seconds but it’s the mid-range pull that puts a smile on your face. The 50-75mph sprint takes only six seconds. And that’s in Auto mode. In Sport, you can slice a second off each.
Inside the 3008 HYbriD4 - in pictures
In the cabin, the hybrid mode control in rather odd place
It's a hybrid with 4 modes, hence the name
How eco are you?
On the road... and off it
Off-road performance is naturally limited by the tyres and ground clearance, but no matter how deep the mud I threw the HYbrid4 into, the system always found traction and always kept me 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 Auto does a very good job of keeping to electric drive where possible in the name of fuel economy, only firing up the diesel engine when required. But you can still use ZEV mode to sneak around car parks without using a drop of fuel.
Journey into the interior
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 £4500 cheaper non-hybrid 3008 with the same diesel engine.
I’ll need more time with the car to see how close to that figure you will get in day-to-day use - and, of course, the self-control to keep it out of Sport mode - but the trip computer regularly told me I was getting into the high 50s.
I’ll also be interested to see how the HYbrid4 behaves in the wet when the system brings the rear drive motor into play in help with road holding and grip, but again that will have to wait until a full test drive later in the year.
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.
The 508 RXH also features HYbrid4 tech
Life becomes so much more enjoyable when you switch the transmission to manual and use the flappy-paddles to swap cogs, and leave the automatic system to just worry about dropping you into neutral when you come to a stop and managing the start/stop side of things.
Peugeot’s HYbrid4 diesel-electric power train 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 is that we'll be seeing the system in various models and guises over the next few years not just in the rather utilitarian 3008. ®
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