The headline figures accompanying Peugeot's new diesel-electric hybrid 3008 are impressive. It produces 200hp and 500Nm of torque, yet sits in Band A for tax and uses just 4.0litres/100km on the combined cycle. Along with all that it's well specified - though not cheap to buy.
Inside & Out: 4.5/5
That the Peugeot 3008 is striking is not up for debate, but we're not huge fans of the front grille design. It'll look way better to our eyes when it is facelifted with the latest Peugeot corporate face. That aside, the HYbrid4 model is differentiated from lesser models by LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloys (on this top-spec version) and under-bumper scuff plates front and rear. The optional panoramic roof gives it more kudos in the style stakes too.
We can't fault the 3008's cabin - and the HYbrid4's is little different. There's loads of room all-round for passengers and their need for storing sundry items is well catered for with hidden storage under the rear footwells and a vast cubby in the raised centre console up front. The boot is a cinch to access and features a split level - though it's reduced in size from the non-hybrid 3008's. Not only is it a practical car inside, it's of high quality. The materials used are pleasant to touch and the switchgear is all well-damped.
Engine & Transmission: 3.5/5
Peugeot is proud of the fact that the HYbrid4 is the world's first diesel-electric hybrid car on the market - and it is undeniably a clever concept. A 2.0-litre HDi diesel engine sits under the bonnet, producing just over 160hp. It drives the front wheels via PSA's six-speed EGC (Electronic Gearbox Control), which has no clutch pedal. An electric motor drives the rear wheels when required, adding nearly 40hp to the equation. The hybrid system can choose any combination of electric motor and engine power depending on the situation and the mode selected. The driver chooses between Auto, Sport, ZEV and 4WD.
Noise from the diesel engine is commendably suppressed, though you soon realise how often the car operates in electric-only mode when you hear the engine restarting while on the move. There's no vibration or harshness in the system though. Experienced users of this gearbox will be surprised at how much smoother changes are in the HYbrid4. Peugeot cleverly employs the electric motor to fill in the gaps.
Auto mode will suit most people - especially as it optimises efficiency, though the car feels noticeably quicker in Sport guise. Turn the rotary dial to ZEV and there's eerie silence as just the electric motor propels you along - while there's charge in the battery. Should you want permanent four-wheel drive switch over to 4WD mode. It's all very easy to use and we like that the car can be customised to the conditions and your mood.
Ride & Handling: 3/5
Somewhat surprisingly, the 3008 HYbrid4 straddles the middle ground in terms of ride and handling. That is to say that it doesn't have pillow-soft ride comfort, but neither is it a dynamic scalpel in the corners. The large alloys and low profile tyres, good as they look, give the chassis a slightly jittery feel in town and over speed bumps. Admittedly things improve considerably on the open road. Body control is good though, offering a flat cornering stance. It's not the kind of car you'd fling down an interesting road, despite the headline 200hp figure. For what it's worth, the brake feel is the best we've experienced in a car with an electric motor and regenerative braking.
Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 2.5/5
On the one hand, the 3008 HYbrid4 is comprehensively equipped. The entry-level version features dual-zone climate control, 16-inch alloys, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, electric windows all round, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, electric child locks and rear parking sensors. The top-spec model we tested adds 17-inch alloys, rear sunblinds, a head up display, satnav, electric folding mirrors and a folding passenger front seat. That's a lot of extra equipment for a €1,700 premium.
However, no matter how well specified the HYbrid4 version is, even the lesser one is some €7,000 more than the most expensive 3008 powered by a 1.6-litre HDi diesel engine. It may be worth it theoretically, but we're not sure there's a large market for such premium family cars right now.
For the record, we averaged 6.4 litres/100km (44.1mpg) in our time with the car, in a week where we barely used the motorway and did a lot of ferrying kids around town.