Peugeot celebrates its status as the world leader in diesel hybrid technology – a hollow victory given that the 3008 HY4 is the world’s first production diesel hybrid, but we won’t deny them their celebrations.
It’s an intriguing prospect – hybrid petrol goes well because the two cancel out each other’s shortcomings, where hybrid diesel seems on paper like they are going to step on each other’s toes. In the event the marriage is a smart one, if not made tense by other parts of the car such as the recalcitrant gearbox, then the car may be setting a trend.
The HY4 seems to wear its tech as a premium feature rather than anything particularly green – the car costs many thousand pounds more than the top-of-the-range 2.0-litre HDi if you go by the 104g version at £28,495 that most buyers will opt for.
The 3008 HY4 clearly suffers from a lack of identity – its economy figures are admirable, but when you consider potential rivals things get sticky. It’s expensive compared to other SUVs, but Peugeot says its new car will steal buyers from the Prius. Be that as it may, if you want to make an environmental statement the Toyota is one of the clearest.
The exterior styling is an acquired taste – but the lack of distinction between the standard models and the HY4 is surprising. This might signal the acceptance of hybrid tech as standard, but given the shouting Peugeot is doing about the first production diesel hybrid you’d have to say not. A few carefully chosen environmental design cues wouldn’t have gone amiss.
There seems to be more of a compromise here in EV mode than with other hybrid cars on the market – perhaps understandable given the 1800kg kerbweight and the pressure to get into the 100g/km club. On a hot day, the air-conditioning being switched off every time the car slips into EV mode quickly becomes intolerable.
The interior certainly looks good, with a nice blend of rotary and flip switches peppered across the centre stack. The plastics don’t stand up to close examination – fine when the range begins at £17,000 but the car could do with a little more pizzazz at £10,000 more.
The sloping dash lends a car-like feel, and the large windows and optional full-length sunroof make the HY4 pleasantly airy. The only thing that spoils the cosiness is the harsh suspension – probably down to the extra weight of batteries and electric motor being lugged around.
The HY4’s appeal is indistinct – business drivers might like the idea of getting a larger car for less cash, but with downsized diesel engines getting constantly cleaner and more efficient it might not be worth the bother.
Sam Burnett is the author of no books, and currently lives in Coventry with no wife and several non-existent cats. He can be emailed here.
You can visit his blog Everything Is Somewhere Else and follow him on twitter @sam_burnett