Peugeot 3008 Hybrid review: much better than the electric version but reservations remain

Peugeot 3008: prices for the hybrid start at £34,650
Peugeot 3008: prices for the hybrid start at £34,650

Want a definition of hubris? Try building a new car to compete in a particular market sector. Years of work, engineering and design and then, when the ink is barely dry on the brochure, when rivals can see the size and price, they swiftly prepare their spoiler marketing to show their bigger/smaller cars in a more favourable light.

Peugeot’s new, third-generation 3008 looks as though it’s going to suffer such a fate. French rival Renault is already pushing its smaller (4,470mm versus the 4,542mm) all-electric Renault Scenic as a cheaper and lighter rival to the battery-electric (EV) versions of the 3008.

In response, Peugeot is breezily saying that the Scenic isn’t the same class of car, yet it has clearly stung. Then, at the recent Car of the Year event in France, Peugeot couldn’t resist comparing the 3008 with the Scenic – by their deeds shall ye know them…

Enter the hybrid

What the 3008 does have in its favour, however, is a petrol-electric hybrid version and, with private buyers cooling quicker than a polar bear’s gin and tonic about the idea of a battery-electric family car, this might be a popular choice if you are hell-bent on a Peugeot C-segment family SUV. Particularly so in Paris, where despite its most-loved-brand status in France, Peugeot’s over-two-tonne battery-electric E-3008 will fall foul of Draconian parking charges for heavier SUVs voted in recently. This much lighter hybrid just about scampers under that bar.

The car has a top speed of 122mph
The car has a top speed of 122mph

They’ll save a bit of money, too. Prices for the hybrid start at £34,650 for the Allure (the equivalent EV is £45,850) rising to £37,995 for the GT (£49,650 for the EV).

The nitty gritty

The 3008 is based on the Stellantis STLA medium platform and is one of the smallest cars to use this basis, which makes it slightly heavy for its size.

The hybrid has the Stellantis Group’s 1,199cc turbo three-cylinder petrol engine, which gives 134bhp at 5,500rpm and 170lb ft of torque at 1,750rpm. It’s augmented by a 0.89kWh lithium-ion battery, which has an eight-year warranty, powering a 22bhp/37lb ft motor, incorporated into the six-speed, dual-clutch semi-automatic gearbox driving the front wheels.

The 3008 comes in heavy for its size
The 3008 comes in heavy for its size

The top speed is 122mph, with 0-62mph acceleration in 10.2sec. It weighs 1,573kg and will tow up to one tonne.

By way of comparison, the 2,108kg 73kWh EV version has equivalent figures of 105mph and 8.8sec and has a published WLTP range of 326 miles, although when I tested it in Spain I could only manage 270 miles.

Inside job

Peugeot’s controversial small steering-wheeled i-Cockpit has been reworked for the 3008 and the curved oblong screen sits proud of the facia with a set of programmable tile buttons underneath. It’s fairly simple to use once you are used to it but, like all these systems, it’s easy to forget how to access less-used functions, which then entails a fair bit of prodding and the potential for some fruity language.

You sit high, which won’t suit everyone, but it does mean that the instrument displays are visible without having to adjust the squared-off steering wheel into your lap.

The cockpitof the 3008
The cockpitof the 3008 features a distinctive curved oblong screen

High-mounted front seats mean that, unlike the battery version, the hybrid’s rear-seat passengers can slip their feet under the seat in front. All the same, there’s not that much space for longer legs and you’ll find your knees locked into the front seat-back scallops. The boot size is generous, 520 litres with the rear seats up and 1,480 with them folded, plus a large space underneath for the charging cables. It’s 774mm off the ground though, so older dogs will need a hand up – for comparison, the Scenic’s boot  is 575 litres, but it’s a less useful space than the Peugeot’s.

The boot size is generous at 520 litres
The boot size is generous at 520 litres

The 3008 is a good-looking car and the different feel to the design of its interior will attract many into showrooms. I like the different textures and shapes on the facia, though there are rather too many dust traps.

And the standard specification is high, with air-conditioning, power folding and heated door mirrors, a reversing camera, 19-inch wheels and as many safety systems as you can throw a stick at.

Somehow the details don’t make a particularly cogent whole, however. For all the gizmos such as the electrically opening tailgate and powered seat adjustment, there’s an insubstantial feel about the 3008. The panels feel thin and doors flap shut, road noise is ever present despite a laminated windscreen and the switchgear feels flimsy in places.

On the road

Does 1.2 litres go into 1.6 tonnes? Well, yes, and while the 136bhp engine is vocal at times it isn’t an unpleasant noise and as long as you are prepared to push the accelerator pedal to the bulkhead when overtaking or ascending steep hills, you can maintain brisk progress across country and enjoy the efficiency and low fuel consumption that the small engine provides when the turbo is off boost. On an admittedly short drive on narrow French roads, I recorded 43mpg against an official WLTP figure of 44.6-52.5mpg.

The 3008 is capable of 0-62mph acceleration in 10.2sec
The 3008 is capable of 0-62mph acceleration in 10.2sec

The hybrid has a technically-inferior twist-beam rear suspension compared with the EV’s multi-link set-up, but it also has more than half a tonne less to carry. As a result it feels livelier and more responsive to the road surface. It’s too lively at times, with broken-edged roads causing a lot of side-to-side pitching and an almost bounding ride quality on the 19-inch wheels when the road surface deteriorates.

The steering has an inconsistent weighting whichever driving mode is selected, although the small-diameter steering wheel and quick steering rack makes the front feel responsive, if not to say darty, on less smooth roads.

The ride is a mixed bunch as well. There’s a fair bit of front-to-rear pitching under braking and acceleration and the ride is firm, sharp even, over pronounced bumps. On a relatively smooth motorway this is fine, but some of the rivals such as the Skoda Karoq, Kia Niro, Nissan Qashqai or Renault Scenic provide a more cossetting ride.

The Telegraph verdict

Modern car making means sharing as much as possible and squeezing economies of scale wherever you can. That’s understandable, but saddling one of your most popular SUVs (the 3008 has sold 1.3 million across 130 countries since the original was launched in 2017) with the underpinnings and components from a larger class of car seems like sending it into the market with one wheel in a sling.

The hybrid is a big improvement over the heavy EV model and I would certainly recommend a look at it, but there are too many accomplished rivals in the family SUV/crossover market for it to get my unqualified vote.

The facts

On test: Peugeot 3008 Hybrid 136 e-DSC6

Body style: Five-door family SUV

On sale: Now

How much? From £34,650 to £37,995 on the road

How fast? 122mph, 0-62mph in 10.2sec

How economical? 44.6-52.5mpg (WLTP Combined), 43mpg on test

Engine & gearbox: 1,199cc turbocharged three-cylinder petrol, six-speed dual clutch semi-automatic gearbox, front wheel drive

Electric powertrain: 0.89kWh lithium-ion battery with 22bhp/37lb ft electric motor

Maximum power/torque: 134bhp at 5,500rpm and 170lb ft of torque at 1,750rpm

CO2 emissions: 122-143g/km (WLTP Combined)

VED: £245 first year, then £180

Warranty: 3 years/60,000 miles (no mileage limit in first two years)