The Peugeot 3008 has lurked at the fringes of Australia’s automotive landscape for some time, offering its practical wares to a largely empty room.
We know this because the brand’s Australian importer Sime Darby ‘re-launched’ the front-wheel-drive, crossover-styled 3008 in March this year to coincide with the model’s mid-facelift, and spoke at length of the need to re-cast this car in the general public's mind.
“To he honest, we got the positioning wrong,” said Peugeot Australia director John Startari, citing that market acceptance of 2WD crossovers is not just higher, but becoming the “norm”. In other words, the company hadn’t marketed the car right, and had to make people understand that the 3008 could be seen as a rival for the Nissan Qashqais and Volkswagen Tiguans of the world.
The Qashqai comparison is suitable given the dimensions of the 3008 (4365mm long, 1837mm wide, 1639mm high on a 2613mm wheelbase) are similar, and fall firmly within the bounds of the small SUV segment, where total sales are up 23.3 per cent year-to-date.
Peugeot is uniquely placed to capitalise on this market growth, given it alone has three entrants in this market. The 3008 sits alongside the baby 2008 and Mitsubishi ASX-based 4008. There’s work to do though, given the latter two are down double-digits, and the sales of all three model lines combined give Peugeot a segment share of only 1.6 per cent.
Still, there’s only one way to go from there.
Peugeot now offers the 3008 in one specification level, called the Active, with the choice between a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol with 115kW/240Nm that uses a claimed 7.7 litres per 100km, or a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel with 120kW/340Nm that sips 6.6L/100km. Both are matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with torque converter.
The former is now priced from $36,990 drive-away, while the car tested here is $39,990 drive-away. Both versions are cheaper than before, aligning the 3008 with the top-line Qashqai TL diesel auto ($38,390 plus on-roads) and Tiguan 130TDI ($39,990).
Another interesting option, especially for Franco-philes, is the petrol-powered Citroen C4 Picasso MPV from Peugeot’s sister brand, priced at $40,990 and in this reporter’s opinion, a demonstrably more interesting vehicle (and one with a longer six-year brand warranty).
Reviews like this one, between us, are fun to write, because I had very few preconceived notions of the 3008. The week-long loan car you’re reading about here, and a very brief spin on the March launch, are the totality of my experience with the car.
Compared to the pre-facelift model, the 3008 now has a different grille and fog light design. Peugeot calls it “softer and more modern”. It looks better than before — though somewhat humorously, one of our commenters once suggested a resemblance to the Capybara, a South American jungle creature. Ten points for the obscure reference, at least.
At launch, the Active received some new equipment despite the $1000 price cut, including a pop-up 7.0-inch screen sitting atop the dash equipped with satellite-navigation and a reverse camera, which didn’t feature before.
“Previously, the 3008 was unavailable with reverse camera and we have worked closely with Peugeot to ensure that this potentially life-saving feature was available at the redesign,” Startari said.
Other standard features include LED daytime running lights and a boosted Arkamys sound system. Additional features include dual-zone air conditioning with rear vents, cruise control with speed-limiter, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and an electric parking brake. There are two ISOFIX anchors. The 3008 scored a five-star NCAP rating in 2010.
Buyers can also add a Premium Pack for an additional $3500, which adds full leather seats with heating, a colour heads-up display projected onto a pop-up glass screen, rear window sun blinds and a panoramic glass roof.
Our car had this feature, and it proved very welcome indeed. That panoramic roof is massive, and makes the car feel rather like a moving glasshouse. The heads-up display ditto is a good idea. Thing is, this pack plus $990 for metallic paint takes the car as tested to $43,480 — about the same as the Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD with a petrol engine.
The 3008’s cabin is a study in contrast. The heated leather seats, heads-up display and panoramic roof — that options box would tempt — all makes the 3008 a car not bereft of driving enjoyment.
You also get an expansive dash (a French thing), a large windscreen reminiscent of the Picasso and small A-pillars that lend good forward visibility. The bubble shape and big side windows also assist in this area, though as we observed at the launch, the fat C-pillar doesn't.
In other areas the cabin showing its age. The audio fascia is button-heavy and adjusting what you see on the tacked-on screen (more than an arm’s reach distant) via a small dial, that resembles a volume control, is a little un-ergonomic.
This cabin is ‘old’ Peugeot, so the other audio buttons are tiny and the ventilation controls are blocked nearly entirely by the gear-shifter (which itself has an irksome zig-zagged gate). Some nicer French touches include seven switches atop the fascia below the screen, and the audio/cruise buttons positions behind the wheel on chunky stalks — you adapt fast. Unlike some French cars, you also get two decent cupholders.
A number of front-seat passengers also liked the neat leather-bound grab handle, while for the driver the leather-bound steering wheel feels upmarket — though it’s kind of a shame Peugeot didn’t fit its now-signature tiny wheel from the 208, 2008 and 308.
The rear sets are also acceptably spacious — a four-adult road trip proved to be no big deal. Rear seat headroom is excellent, though knee room is a little tighter, and the back of the front seats are coated in cheap plastics. This cheap material carries over to contact points on the doors. You get rear vents and big door pockets, as well as a ski port with small cup holders.
The real highlight of the 3008 is its considerable cabin space and practicality. It gets a split rear tailgate with a bottom piece that acts as a bench (can handle 200kg), and a tiered and removable secondary cargo floor. Cargo space is 512 litres with the seats in place, and up to 1604L with them folded flat — both those figures are typically those of larger SUVs than the 3008.
There’s also storage space hidden under the rear footwells, while the front passenger seat folds flat alongside the rear seats (which can be dropped via a latch in the cargo area), giving the 3008 a 2.5-metre long loading area. There are also various hidey holes totalling 50L scattered about.
Annoying, despite the fact both the petrol and diesel versions use the same-sized 225/50 tyres of 17-inch alloys, only the petrol gets a full-sized steel spare, whereas the diesel has a tiddly space-saver buried under the cargo floor. The diesel also has a larger 11.76m turning circle than the petrol (10.99m).
Under the bonnet of our car is a a 2.0-litre direct-injected turbo-diesel with 120kW at 3750rpm and 340Nm of torque at 2000rpm, with claimed fuel use on the combined cycle pegged at 6.7L/100km. We managed a combined figure a tick over 7.0L/100km, which is excellent.
Its greater torque output makes this the pick for those ferrying car-loads of people or gear, or those that rack up big-mile drives, compared to the slightly anaemic 115kW/240Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol, though the price jump isn’t small.
Both engines offer a legal braked-trailer towing capacity of 1500kg, though the diesel would do it with far more grace. Both engines are also matched to a six-speed automatic transmission that seemed intuitive enough, and which send power to the front wheels only.
Despite the low-ish profile rubber, the 3008’s ride is excellent. The well-sorted dampers have enough travel to soak up corrugations and ruts, and a controlled rebound to keep the car composed. Peugeot certainly put a premium on ride comfort, and that focus was well-placed.
Both versions ride on MacPherson struts up front and a deformable U-shaped cross-member with two arms and a hollow anti-roll bar at the rear. Body control is generally well-sorted enough to feel planted hammering around B-roads on a weekend away, though it’s not as tied down as class leaders like the Volkswagen Tiguan (which the Peugeot kills for practicality).
The steering is light around town and, with 2.9 turns locks-to-lock, isn’t the fastest rack around. If offers acceptable feel-and-feedback when you ask for it.
From an ownership perspective, the 3008 gets five years of capped-price servicing with increments of 12-months or 15,000km. There’s also a three-year/100,000km warranty that falls short of stablemate Citroen’s six-year term.
At the time of writing, the costs of each visit on the petrol are pegged at between $355 (first service) and $675 (second service) and $685 (fourth service) on the diesel.
So that’s the Peugeot 3008 Active HDi with Premium Pack, a niche offering trying to carve out a place in a bustling market segment against more fancied rivals. The cabin is getting a little long in the tooth, but the 3008 remains one of the segment’s more practical offerings inside, and shuffles along well enough in diesel guise.
Peugeot’s battle will be to stand out and lure buyers beyond that small clique of hardcore brand loyalists. For those considering making the jump — at least you’ll probably be the only one in your street driving one.