Plug-In Hybrid's war: PEUGEOT 3008

Plug-In Hybrid's war: PEUGEOT 3008

Even four years after its first reveal, the 3008 still looks bonkers inside and out. If you want pizzazz, Peugeot’s second largest crossover is the place to be, but only since April this year has the SUV that made the French Lion cool again plugged in. Not that you’d know: your only marker is a ‘HYbrid4’ badge on the rear end and an extra filler cap for the charging port. 

Get into the Peugeot after the dowdy Ford and you’ll want what some of Peugeot’s interior designers have been smoking – there’s real imagination and flair here. It helps that the driving position is far superior to the Ford’s and on par with the Volvo’s, and while the Volvo too offers supportive seats, the Peugeot’s are supremely soft and benefit from some intricate stitching to differentiate this GT model. Just like the exterior, there’s very little to say you’re driving the hybrid variant: a lightning bolt button for managing the hybrid powertrain, and an extra graphic in the stylish instrument display that shows power flow, are your only internal visual cues. This one even has an optional threepin 230-volt socket included in the rear. 

Behind that striking and stylish facade, though, there are some niggles. Our test car’s dashboard materials are let down by some slightly rough-edged fittings, the cupholders in the centre are small and too close together, and the infotainment screen feels its age. Other gripes are less Peugeot-specific and just inherent PSA annoyances; the screen is a little low-res and the system that powers it is well below par: slow at the best of times, downright uncommunicative at the worst of times, and with air-con controls hidden behind a digital menu rather than physical controls that you can feel for without taking your eyes from the road. The start button is also annoyingly laggy – you really have to press hard and hold to get a response, no simple tap to get going quickly here. 

2020 Peugeot 3008 hybrid4 interior 

But when you do get going, you really can go – this thing is fast when you flick the drive mode rocker switch from Hybrid to Sport. It sends 297bhp to all four wheels, and there’s so much oomph that it can keep up with the likes of a Fiesta ST in its most aggressive drive mode, upping the top speed to 149mph (in electric, the top speed is limited to 84mph). But reach a corner at speed and the Peugeot starts to unravel dynamically; the hexagonal steering wheel feels supremely light at low speeds and uncommunicative at higher ones, and the auto ’box can be indecisive in its actions depending on your throttle inputs – Ford’s CVT-enabled powertrain feels far smoother and more responsive by comparison. The petrol engine itself sounds unrefined from the outside when it kicks in at idle, to the extent that you might mistake it for a diesel. 

It’s all so soft and remote on the move, with all the comfort pros and dynamic cons that suggests. Bodyroll, for example, is excessive, so much so that hard cornering can make the 3008 lurch even after the corner is in your rear-view mirror. The squidgy-ness continues with the brakes, which are defined by one of the softest pedals I’ve ever experienced. It feels like there’s a good couple of inches of travel where little braking occurs, and the brakes don’t feel all that strong if you press harder. It’s far from comforting, especially in those heart-stopping moments when you need it. 

Thankfully, the engine is much quieter on the inside, and the ride is super plush with its spongy tyres, making the 3008 a delight for low-effort cruising and soaking up meaty urban potholes. Add in a very satisfying massage seat for the driver and you’ve got a plug-in hybrid SUV that suits a laid-back driving style very well indeed. Shame, then, that the Peugeot provides less room to sprawl out and relax than today’s rivals. The cockpit surrounds you as a driver, with a high centre console and bulky door inlays, and there’s only just enough legroom in the back for adults. GT models get a panoramic sunroof as standard that cuts into headroom, and the boot volume takes a cut for the hybrid, dropping substantially from 520 litres to 395. A Nissan Juke has a bigger boot than that. 

Style over substance? Well, you’d definitely be proud to have it on your driveway for a start. Park the Peugeot 3008 next to the Ford and the two are like chalk and cheese. The infotainment is a pain, and the chassis is downright belligerent if you want a bit of fun after the school run. But treat it like an over-padded sofa that you sink into after a hard day at the office and just cruise home in and the Peugeot starts to make sense. 

Elizabeth de Latour

Just as we were poised to send the magazine to the printers, we uncovered the first photos of Peugeot’s facelifted 3008, scheduled to arrive in UK showrooms towards the end of the year. More information in next month’s issue, with full details of the upgrades, the new technology and the engines.