First came the electric car, then came the petrol hybrid. After this came the range-extender electric hybrid and now Peugeot has given us the latest hybrid car flavour - the world's first diesel hybrid.

Anyway, Peugeot's rival to the Vauxhall Ampera and Chevrolet Volt is 3008-shaped and costs £26,279. On sale now, I headed to Birmingham for a first drive.

So how does it work? Well, at the front there is the familiar 161bhp, 2.0-litre HDi turbo diesel mated to a six-speed semi-automatic transmission. However, this package gets really interesting at the back, where there's a 36bhp AC electric motor for the rear wheels.

On top of 200bhp, combined fuel consumption figures of 70.6mpg and 104g/km emissions (a 99g/km version will be available later), this 3008 offers the extra traction of four-wheel drive without all the extra parts of a mechanical system.

However what is really clever about this drivetrain, is that it is easily interchangeable with other models and we will be getting an RXH version of the 508, which is basically an upmarket all-wheel drive estate using the same technology, later this year.

Outside, the Hybrid4 looks like any other 3008; look closer and there are now a set of LEDs inside the front headlights, plus the latest lion badge on the bonnet. Whilst at the back, there is a two-tone rear spoiler with a gloss black centre section.

Inside, the interior is as unchanged as the exterior. Okay, there is two-tone leather for Limited Edition versions, the rev counter has now been replaced by a battery charge indicator, the sat-nav screen now shows what power source is driving the car and what was the circular dial to switch between two and four-wheel drive now controls the four drive modes.

There's only one compromise over the standard 3008's practicality and that is 100 litres less rear load space. However, there's still the same practical split tailgate and folding rear seats.

So, what's the Hybrid4 like to drive? Well, the 3008 starts in ZEV mode, which basically means it can run on electric power for as long as possible or until you go over 30mph. Then, over 30mph the car will shift into Auto mode which optimises the use of diesel and electric power for efficiency.


There is also the four-wheel drive mode (4x4), which switches power to all four wheels giving more grip. Finally, a Sport mode sharpens up the acceleration and gives the driver full access to the 200bhp available.

Personally, I found it quite fiddly to start the Hybrid4. It seemed to take ages between turning the key and the electric motor starting to whir away. If you don't wait, this Peugeot will leave you with a box of neutrals. In ZEV electric mode, the Hybrid4 is very smooth and remains this way when it changes to Auto mode.

The Hybrid4 might have more power and performance, (118mph top speed and 0-60mph acceleration in 9.1 seconds) but it isn't really sporty. So Sport is probably the wrong title for this 3008's most dynamic mode.

One of the highlights of the 3008 is the keen drive, but even in Sport mode the Hybrid4 doesn't feel as sharp as the standard car. The steering and handling are the most noticeable changes and I'm sure that the culprit is the extra 441lb of battery and electric motor. The plastic gear change paddles in particular, look and feel horrible and seem at odds with the Hybrid4's green character.

Peugeot prepared an off-road course to try the Hybrid4's four-wheel drive mode. Don't think of it as a serious off-roader, the 3008 doesn't have enough ground clearance or a lockable differential to do that. However, if you look at it as useful extra traction over muddy or wet surfaces, it works well.

Overall, the 3008 Hybrid4 is an impressive addition to the green car sector and a serious rival to the Vauxhall and Chevrolet. It is expensive, but this is a car that's going to appeal to fleet rather family buyers (Peugeot believes 85% of sales will be to company car buyers). Personally, I feel this is a car that you need to spend time with to get the best out of it and hope to arrange a longer loan period soon.