Peugeot power forward with daring first full diesel hybrid

IT IS a ground-breaking vehicle and as ever with such matters there are elements of nervousness and uncertainty about how it might be received, or even perceived. The world’s first full diesel hybrid has been introduced by Peugeot, and it is now available to pre-order in Ireland.

IT IS a ground-breaking vehicle and as ever with such matters there are elements of nervousness and uncertainty about how it might be received, or even perceived. The world’s first full diesel hybrid has been introduced by Peugeot, and it is now available to pre-order in Ireland.

The ‘pre-order’ situation hints at a simple truth……that the vehicle is not exactly cheap, having an entry price of €37,000 (ex-works) that includes a Government rebate of €1,500 up to the end of 2012. The distributors here are not holding stock, and there is about a 12 week lag between order time and receipt of vehicle.

But if this is you, this is you, as they say, because this car puts ‘environmentally friendly’ right at the top of the agenda.

Welcome to the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid 4, or HY4 if you want to keep it short. The Hybrid 4 technology combines an internal combustion engine and an electric motor that can operate alternatively or simultaneously.

A diesel hybrid

The difference is that instead of a petrol unit being involved as has been the case with such technology heretofore, Peugeot have broken new ground by extending hybrid technology to involve a more efficient diesel engine.

An optimum return of 74.4mpg (3.8 litres/100km) has been suggested by Peugeot, but in fairness, they also point out that few might ever reach that figure because of the unique driving demands of the technology and the characteristics of the car.

Definite figures are C02 emissions of 99 and 104 g/km for the two versions of 3008 Hybrid 4 available – a simple thing like alloy wheels can account for the difference in C02 levels – which plank both variants firmly in Band A for road tax purposes and an annual rate of 160 Euro.

The low cost of ownership with the alluring consumption figure and road tax tariff are obvious selling points.

This hybrid system comes without any of the hassle concerning power generation, something which can heighten the senses when the word electric is used, especially as the back-up services for electric technology have been very slow to be rolled out in this country.

The diesel plus electric HY4 combination offers total power of 200bhp, with 163bhp coming from the 2.0-litre diesel engine to the front and the balance from an electric motor in the rear. Like other hybrids, the battery is recharged from the electric motor temporarily acting as a generator and by harnessing braking and deceleration force and transforming it into energy.

Four driving settings

The HDi engine is mated to a 6-speed sequential gearbox (EGC) and offers four driving settings – auto; sport; 4WD or the ZEV all electric zero emissions mode, any of which can be engaged via a control selector mounted on the centre console.

Virtually all my driving was in auto mode, in which the entire system is automatically controlled, including the operation of the HDi diesel engine and electric motor. The system more or less selects the best drive for best fuel returns, depending on the demands, be that a section of motorway, a steep hill or whatever.

The electric power takes over in phases of lower power demands, like when starting and decelerating. When starting, for example, the car is absolutely silent and it can remain in electric mode if you ease the car along up to a speed of 60kph, over a limited range (4klm), of course.

For me the electric system operated very well in Dublin City, being particularly active between traffic lights, for example. Generally the diesel engine sparks into life quickly and the car operates as a regular hybrid.

Obviously in four wheel drive mode both power systems operate in tandem, with the rear wheels driven by the electric motor and the front by the HDi diesel engine. At low speed it allows all terrain capabilities equivalent to a regular SUV.

The sport mode has the two systems operating to produce more power and provides quicker gear changes at higher engine speeds.

How does it come together?

How does it all come together, you might wonder?

Unlike in your regular auto car drive, the momentum of the vehicle actually fades noticeably when you take your foot off the accelerator. You could live with that no problem because as you learn the ways of the car you can compensate and prevent it happening.

However, a darn difficult to engage reverse gear – you have to actually push to the point of forcing the lever into place – is something Peugeot must address quickly. This is the one stand out negative with an otherwise fine, shapely, environmentally friendly, economical, well kitted out ‘of the moment’ car.

Standard equipment includes cruise control and speed limiter, climate control bi-zone air con, 16” alloys, automatic headlights and wipers, Bluebooth, alarm and deadlocks, front and rear electric windows, electric child locks, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

The lavish package on my test car included full integrated leather upholstery, panoramic glass roof, front parking sensors, headlamp washers and electric front seats.

The car

Peugeot 3008 Hybrid 4 2.0 HDi circa €42,000 (ex-works).

Engine: 1997 cc four cylinder turbo diesel engine, 163bhp at 3,850rpm combined with a 27kw (37hp) electric motor.

Transmission: 6-speed robotised automatic gearbox.

Top speed: 191kph; 0 to 100kph in 8.5 seconds.

Consumption: 3.9l/100km (urban); 3.7 (extra urban); 3.8 or 74mpg (combined).

Emissions: from 99 to 104g/km.

Annual road tax: €160.