Peugeot: Diesel hybrids for NZ

By Liz Dobson

NZ first outside Europe to get new Peugeot hybrid engine

Peugeot's 508 RXH sportswagon is powered by a hybrid diesel engine and has stunning 'claw' front LED lights
Peugeot's 508 RXH sportswagon is powered by a hybrid diesel engine and has stunning 'claw' front LED lights

You can excuse car boss Grant Smith for a bit of bragging. Not only has he added hybrid diesel vehicles to Peugeot's line-up but we're the first country outside Europe to get the new engines.

The Peugeot 3008 crossover and 508 sportswagon are being powered with the French company's exclusive technology - the fourth generation hybrid engine (HY4) that has a 2-litre diesel engine paired with a 27kW rechargeable electric engine.

The two models are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and stop-start technology, providing it with the average fuel economy of 3.9-litre/100km in the 3008 and 508's 4.1-litre/100km average for around town.

To show off his new engine, Smith had signwriting on a 3008 HY4 (as the hybrid model is being badged here) to promote the new hybrid diesel car in New Zealand - and the result impressed him.

"I'd park the car and when I'd come back there would be people standing around the car ...

usually Toyota Prius owners who were interested in the engine," said Smith, who is general manager of Peugeot NZ's distributor, Sime Darby.

The engine combination had the diesel engine aligned to the front wheels, and the electric to the rear, producing 99g of CO2.

And around town, the electric engine would dominate, kicking in from start-up and for the next 3km or until you hit over 10km/h.

The hybrid-diesel models came with four driving options: auto, sport, 4WD and zero - meaning electric engine only.

Smith experienced first hand how well the electric engine worked at slow speed. In his daily work commute from Omaha to Sime Darby's South Auckland head office, Smith found the 3008 HY4's electric engine dominated in commuter traffic, in zero mode continuously from the Northern Motorway's Constellation Drive to Mt Wellington.

But at the Queenstown launch this week, the only commuter traffic was the ski bus picking up tourists for the snow-covered slopes.

The 508 sportswagon followed similar exterior styling to Audi's A4 allroad and sat lower to the ground than the 3008.

To make it stand out from the diesel 508 sportswagon model in Peugeot NZ's line-up, the hybrid had three "claw" mark LED front headlights that were for me visual highlights of the vehicle.

Priced from $74,990, Peugeot NZ is throwing in 50,000km worth of road user charges, while the 508 sportswagon gets the badging RXH: the "R" means "special and unique" in Peugeot speak, "X" stands for the vehicle's four-wheel-drive ability and "H" for, you guessed it, hybrid.

Driving the 508 RXH first at the Queenstown launch (with the heated leather seats on full blast), the sun was just peaking over the Remarkables as I left our hotel and headed to Cromwell via Clyde and Alexandra.

The silence of the electric engine was the first indication of the difference of the model as the vehicle snuck quietly down the icy roads.

Sitting in "auto" mode through Queenstown, the car was conservative with its gear change, but breaks in torque were boosted by the electric motor's input.

Hitting the open road, I moved the vehicle into 'sport' mode and the result was instant. The car leapt forward with a surge of power, the gears moving faster through to optimum setting.

To assist at high speed, the 2-litre diesel engine had a maximum power of 120kW at 3750rpm and a maximum torque of 30Nm at 1750rpm. It also had Peugeot's "octosquare" particle emission filter (PEF) technology with Eolys additive-enhanced filtration, dispelling that "dirty diesel" label.

Although the sport setting suited the vehicle, I tested the 4WD mode with some cross-country driving near Clyde dam for a photo-shoot session. It coped with frost on the sloping ground, reversing with ease in 4WD mode.

As we entered Cromwell for lunch, and a chance to drive Peugeot's newly launched 208 GTi around the Highland Motorsport Park track, I turned the 508 RXH into zero mode with the deceleration, downhill gliding and braking having already charged up the electric engine enough to work solely.

After lunch, it was the 3008 HY4's turn for a spin, with the mid-sized crossover gaining a floating front grille, new daytime running lights and HY4 badging to differentiate it from the petrol and diesel 3008 models in Peugeot's line-up.

The base model 3008 HY4 was priced from $59,990 (that's $10,000 more than the 3008 2-litre diesel model in the line-up), with 17in alloys, satnav including traffic updates and the 50,000km RUC bonus.

The luxury model of the 3008 HY4 was priced at $64,990 with heated seats, 18in alloys, leather seats and the RUC bonus.

Like the 508 RXH, the 3008 HY4 sat comfortably in sport mode with the faster gear change highlighted.

As I cruised back to Cromwell, thinking about what sort of buyers would be attracted to the hybrid diesels - apart from Smith's Prius fan club - a "normal" 3008 drove past me with a family on board and skis on the roof rack. Yip, I'd found the buyers.

- NZ Herald

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