When a new ‘green car,’ comes out, it seems to be a pre-requisite that it should be a bit ugly.
It must be a fundamental part of the selling psychology, “Drive around in this Sir, and people will know you are doing your bit for the planet. The styling is deliberately awkward so everyone knows you are driving it out of a higher moral responsibility, not for personal gratification. One in the eye for the Ferrari driver, that.”
When the original Peugeot 3008 was launched with its conventional engines, its many strengths were overshadowed by its ‘cubey’ looks. So I was thrilled when Peugeot announced a 3008 diesel hybrid; I thought it would help justify the looks.
I never felt the looks were that bad anyway, and when I tested the conventional 3008, I loved the light-and-easy, family feel. All those qualities are still evident in the hybrid version.
The biggest impact I noticed from the Hybrid was that like Stop/Start cars, in traffic queues and at traffic lights, the engine was off and emissions were nil. This was undeniably the biggest gain for the environment, because I didn’t spend as long running on battery power as I did on diesel.
Once the battery got low, I found it impossible to fully charge while just driving around the City. Only out on a big run would the battery charge back up above 3 bars. So being mainly City-based, even when driving gently, it wasn’t long before I had drained the battery down to one bar and was driving on diesel again.
And in busy parts of London, in rush hour in particular, the need to get off the line and keep up with the flow of traffic before the next abrupt stop meant the diesel power was needed a lot then too.
The second impact the Hybrid had was on parallel parking and city manoeuvres. When trying to squeeze into a gap not much bigger than the car, the need to edge the car back and forth one or two feet became a major source of stress. Having engaged gear, you have to very gingerly touch the accelerator, and even then the car still surges forward. So you lift off the accelerator immediately and the car sort of rocks back. Do this more than once and your passengers ask if they can take the bus next time.
A U-turn was also rarely possibly – and three point turns are not easy to do in busy London streets. People don’t like to wait. And if they do they insist of providing a musical accompaniment with their horns. But the turning circle is a real limitation on the 3008 hybrid, at 12.14m it is significantly worse than the 9.8 meters of the conventional car. And because this is a hybrid it is going to spend more time in town, where a tight turning circle can be essential.
But that issue apart, the Hybrid really completes the 3008, as a modern family car; the attractive graphic telling what is powering what never gets boring and driving in silence seems so right in a 3008 somehow. This is how it felt when everyone realised the ugly duckling is a swan.
What’s the market like?
In the first 12 months, the prices on conventional 3008s drop heavily. Making year two the time to buy, before a period that is almost depreciation-free; word must be getting out that these are great family MPVs.
The hybrid systems won’t be as cheap nearly new as the conventional models. At least not until there are more in the market.
A happy family MPV that is now green too.