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It used to be a five-seat people mover, and not all that attractive. Now, there’s a new-generation Peugeot 3008 and its morphed into a stylish five-seat SUV.
Launched with great fanfare in Europe in January 2017, markets such as Australia have to wait patiently for their cars, due entirely to its sheer popularity on home turf.
Taking out the coveted 2017 Car of the Year over the likes of the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Mercedes-Benz E-Class obviously helped kicked things off, but in the last six months the 3008 (officially it’s called the three-thousand and eight) has notched up more than 200,000 sales, and there’s no sign of demand slowing.
It’s also the first SUV to win the title since the creation of the award in 1964, and the fifth Peugeot to be named Car of the Year, following the 308 in 2014, the 307 in 2002, the 405 in 1988 and the 504 in 1969.
Peugeot’s designers have clearly pulled out all stops to give the 3008 a stylish new look and feel, one that is mirrored by the larger (and even newer) 5008 seven-seater.
In fact, the 3008 is a lot more than just a new model, it’s about reshaping the brand’s image and identity in order to attract a whole new group of buyers for years to come. And if sales are anything to go by, the approach seems to be working a treat for them.
It’s not like they had a choice either, given the new 3008 has stepped into the ring with such standout performers as the Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan and Toyota RAV4. But while those are rather safe, if not, traditional designs, Peugeot’s entry has gone for a far bolder look – avant-garde even.
The famous Peugeot Lion takes pride and place on a far more upright grille than its predecessor, and that feline theme continues unabated around the entire vehicle. Take the slimline and cat-like headlamps up front, and the three-claw taillight signature around back, and you start to get the picture.
We also like the chrome touches – front, back and sides – as these have been used sparingly and to good effect. It cuts an appealing look for sure, and one that we grew fonder of over the course of our two-day French drive programme.
It’s also 80mm longer than the previous 3008, thanks to a stretched wheelbase, while the roofline has been lowered slightly. And while there’s still plenty of rake in the windscreen, it’s more upright than before, but the beltline is noticeably higher. All-in-all, it’s a good-looking thing that should find plenty of favour Down Under.
And while it certainly demands your attention on the road, it's inside where Peugeot’s stylists have really gone to town. It’s a cut above the rest of the segment in this regard.
Not only is it loaded to the hilt with all the latest technology, there’s a far more premium look and feel to this cabin than any Peugeot before it – and by some margin. It’s really quite impressive, and you get the feeling it was either all or nothing when it came to the new 3008.
Gone are the traditional switches and dials, only to be replaced by Peugeot’s brand new i-Cockpit – a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, not unlike those used by Audi and Volkswagen, though not quite as extravagant in design or resolution as those.
Unfortunately, the slightly awkward ergonomics mean you can’t always see the entire screen over Peugeot’s now trademark tiny steering wheel. At first, we thought it might feel a bit odd in a high-riding SUV, but you soon get used to it and it’s actually quite enjoyable, given how effective the 3008’s chassis is, but more on that later in the review.
There are no dials, just a row of beautifully fashioned piano-style keys with a metal look and finish – shortcuts to all of the functions available on the high-quality, and nicely proportioned eight-inch capacitive touchscreen, which takes centre stage on the dashboard.
All the touchpoints are soft and the trim is fashioned from twill or even real wood – shades of BMW i3, almost. The seats, too, are expertly designed to provide both high levels of comfort on long trips (we covered over 500km) and sufficient bolstering to hold you in place on the twisty, undulating roads around Belfort, in France.
There’s more room in the new model, too, at least in the rear, where leg- and headroom have gained 24mm and 36mm more space, respectively. Certainly, it’s comfortable back there and there’s enough space under the front seats to slide your feet under – important on longer journeys.
Boot space has grown too, by almost 90-litres over the old model for a total 520 litres with the rear seats in place, expanding to 1580 litres when folded. It’s more than enough to transport four adults and luggage. The boot floor has two floor positions – flat for easy loading or sunken for extra capacity.
There’s also a ton of standard kit on board, with all four trim levels (Active, Allure, GT Line and range-topping GT) featuring the likes of Apple Carplay and Android Auto, voice activated 3D navigation, dual-zone air-conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, Visiopark (180-degree rear-view camera), LED daytime running lights, auto headlamps and wipers, electric and heated door mirrors, auto-dipping rear-vision mirror and alloy roof rails.
Also on-board are features such as wireless induction charging, leather steering wheel and carbon design door inserts. However, our tester was the next-rung-up Allure, which added 18-inch alloy wheels, hands-free opening and start, front camera with 360-degree camera, city park for parking assistance, privacy glass and electric folding mirrors.
And they haven’t skimped on the active safety gear either, with even the entry-level Active 3008 equipped with AEB (Automatic Emergency Braking), eight airbags including front and rear curtain, programmable cruise control with speed limiter and speed limit recognition.
The Allure adds the full gamut of crash-avoidance systems by adding adaptive cruise control with stop function, city stop including pedestrian detection, active blind-spot detection, lane keeping assist, front collision warning and full LED head and fog lamps.
Australian Peugeot buyers will have a choice of petrol and diesel engines with a 1.6-litre turbo petrol and a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, both mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The petrol engine makes 121kW of power at 6000rpm and 240Nm of torque from just 1400rpm, while the diesel develops 133kW and 400Nm 2000rpm.
For the moment, though, and unlike its rivals, the 3008 is built only in front-wheel drive. But for those wanting a tad more flexibility, there’s the optional Advanced Grip Control – an enhanced traction control system with five grip levels; Normal, Snow, Mud, Sand, and ESP OFF for soft sand adventures – all controlled from a knob on the centre console.
The petrol motor fitted to our tester in France wasn’t the liveliest thing out of the gate, but it is relatively noise free and refined, compared with some rivals – even those with larger displacements.
There’s the unavoidable low-down turbo lag that we’re all so used to these days, but once the tachometer starts to climb, throttle response is pretty good. Fortunately, a large part of our test route was on a French autoroute, where progress at the 130km/h speed limit in these parts was as effortless, as it was quiet.
While gearshifts are mostly seamless, they’re not particularly crisp, and the rather frugal outputs of this engine mean there’s a fair bit of gear-hunting going on even under moderate throttle inputs. We can’t say it’s annoying, but it’s not exactly entertaining, either.
The diesel, though, is far more rewarding. Though we only got to sample it in the larger and heavier SUV, yet it was still fun over the rolling hills and provided plenty of oomph for high-speed overtakes on the autoroutes.
The engine and transmission simply never need to work that hard, even under full throttle. And there’s a decent engine note piped into the cabin and amplified through the audio speakers, if not for a semblance of driver satisfaction.
Road and wind noise are down, too. In fact, there isn’t much of either, even at the higher speed limits over here. Clearly, noise insulation was a major deliverable in the development of this vehicle, and it has quite obviously paid off.
The 3008 is built on Peugeot’s latest architecture and modular EMP2 platform, which has shed 100kg from its previous bulk. Our petrol tester tipped the scales at just 1375kg, making it one of the lightest in class, despite the high level of equipment on board.
Consequently, it feels agile and easy to manoeuvre around the tight Parisian streets on our way out of this city. Steering is nicely weighted, too, but there isn’t a lot of feel to it – not sure there needs to be, either, in this mainly urbanised vehicle segment.
Fully loaded and riding on 18-inch alloy wheels, the 3008 delivers an excellent ride/handling balance over almost any surface, including a few well-worn French B-roads. Only over sharp edges, did the rear seat ride ever become a bit unpleasant, but those moments were rare on this occasion.
Push on a bit, and you’ll also discover sound body control and a real willingness to turn in. If only we had had the 2.0-litre diesel under the bonnet, the drive would have been so much more fun, entertaining, even.
When the new Peugeot 3008 finally lands in showrooms in August, it's likely to attract plenty of willing converts, if not for the interior alone. Add in the chic styling, all-round practicality and general refinement, and Peugeot could become popular here again.
Competitive pricing will of course be a critical factor in such a competitive arena like ours, and is yet to be finalised. However, we do know the entry-level Active model will be priced from $39,990 drive-away, which will put it awfully close to the Tiguan 110TSI Comfortline.
As always, a more thorough test of the 3008 will be conducted once we get the vehicle on home soil.
MORE: Everything Peugeot