The new Peugeot 3008 is angling to step on Toyota’s toes with its new 48V hybrid system, which allows the car to drive solely on electric power at manoeuvring speeds and on very light load.
The French company reckons the system can deliver electric running for up to 50% of your driving time and cut fuel consumption by 15% over the standard Peugeot 3008 1.2 PureTech 130 EAT8 powertrain that it will replace across the Peugeot model range (including the 208) in the next year or so.
The system works with a 28bhp electric motor that’s integrated into a dual-clutch, six-speed automatic transmission, all of which feeds power from both the electric motor and the 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine to the front wheels.
We tried it in the 3008 - a popular enough model that it warrants a new engine even though the all-new version will be unveiled this autumn and on sale next year. Everything else stays the same on the 3008, including an interior that looks classy apart from the rather clunky, dated touchscreen interface. Even the 432Wh lithium ion battery is located under the front passenger seat, to leave the boot unencumbered by batteries and the 3008’s generally very decent practicality and roominess unaffected by the hybrid powertrain.
Unfortunately, the drive is resoundingly ordinary. During low-speed electric running, you can feel the gearbox switching ratios, and an intrusive whine from the motor is so prominent in the cabin that you can hear it even when the petrol engine’s running. Perhaps more disappointing is that, despite an hour or so of largely urban running and liberal use of Eco mode and tiptoeing the throttle, we still managed only 6% of our journey on electric power, and an overall economy of 35mpg. There’s no button to force it into EV mode, which is a shame because there were a few times when we would have chosen to use it.
The thrummy 1.2-litre engine is in play most of the time, then, and it’s a cheerful engine that’s happy to rev. But even with the added gusto of the electric motor joining in, the 3008 feels laboured if you try even a moderately heavy burst of acceleration. A Toyota C-HR Hybrid is some 2.0sec faster to 62mph, for some context. Wheel-mounted paddles let you select a gear and the gearbox responds promptly enough and without any unpleasant jerkiness or hesitation. Even so, the paddles feel unnecessary, given the nature of the 3008, and if it wasn’t obvious enough already, the engine revs also take a while to drop when you lift off the throttle. There’s nothing like treacly falling revs to make absolutely certain that you won’t really want to drive the 3008 with much spirit. And that’s absolutely fine, because such use is hardly this car’s remit.