It’s 10 years since the original Peugeot 3008 landed on our shores, and much has changed for the French brand since.
In 2010 the company was more popular in Australia than compatriot Renault, but has since fallen behind – and back then the 308 small car was the best-selling Peugeot, where it’s now the 3008.
And where the first 3008 was an MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), the second-generation version that has been around since 2017 is a far more enticing SUV.
In SUV form, it has done much to dispel bad memories of the company’s first ever SUV, the 4007 that was simply a re-nosed and rebadged Mitsubishi Outlander.
But in a medium-size-SUV segment that is heavily congested and dominated by the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson (which, incredibly, together account for nearly half of sales), where does the 3008 sit on the ‘Recommendation’ scale?
Peugeot certainly isn’t going for volume. After dropping the $35,990 Active model available in 2019, today’s cheapest model starts from $43,990.
A $54,990 diesel-powered GT variant sits at the top of the range, and in between is the model we’re testing here: the $47,990 GT-Line that shares a turbo petrol engine with the base Allure.
All 3008 models have increased by $3000 for 2020, pushing them further into niche territory, considering all its key rivals start in the low- to mid-$30K bracket.
Equipment, though, compares well against higher-spec versions of models such as the RAV4 and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Safety technology is extensive even on the base Allure, with adaptive cruise control, auto high beam, blind spot detection, lane-keeping assistance, fatigue monitoring, speed-limit notification, and autonomous braking with pedestrian detection.
There’s also front and rear cameras and park sensors, and a semi-autonomous parking system that can steer you into and out of parallel and perpendicular spaces.
Convenience and infotainment technologies comprise wireless phone charging, hands-free tailgate operation, smartphone integration, keyless entry and start, 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, and a fully digital (12.3-inch) instrument display.
The latter is an option on the $51,690 top-spec Volkswagen Tiguan (162TSI) and not available at all on the RAV4.
Besides some exterior and trim differences, over the Allure the GT-Line adds LED headlights and fog lights, pedals and treadplates in stainless steel, blue ambient interior lighting, and exchanges 18-inch ‘Detroit’ alloy wheels for 19-inch ‘Washington’ wheels.
Our test car included optional full-grain Nappa leather quilted seats instead of the standard fabric upholstery, as well as a heating function and cushion extender for the front seats and electric adjustment for the driver’s side. An optional panoramic electric sunroof was also fitted.
The sunroof helps bathe the interior in light, while the beautifully supple and detailed seats complement the stylish and upmarket look achieved by the rest of the cabin.
There’s some inspired use of materials such as the ‘Brumeo’ fabric used on parts of the doors and central dash, while yielding plastics are in prominent areas such as the upper dash, upper door cards and forward section of the centre console.
For perceived quality, the 3008 takes Best Cabin In Class honours. It also takes a more expressive approach to presentation than the conservative Tiguan.
Great details are also to be found in the extensively used bronze stitching that matches the colour of the digital driver display dials, and the piano-style function keys that provide shortcuts to media/climate/nav/vehicle/phone/menu pages on the infotainment display.
Below these are similarly tactile buttons for recirculation and seat/screen heating, plus a mini dial for volume and system on/off.
Those toggles/buttons and the infotainment display are angled towards the driver as part of Peugeot’s ‘i-Cockpit’ design, which includes a compact steering wheel that’s smaller than anything we can recall in the segment.
The size of the wheel gives the 3008 an immediately sporty feel, though many drivers will need to put it in its lowest position to ensure they have a full view of the instrument display. Some will find they simply can’t get the ideal driving position.
The digital driver display offers a good degree of customisation – more than BMW’s equivalent and similar to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. Using a scroll-click button on the steering wheel, layout options include a traditional dial look, navigation focus or a minimalist view with essential info such as speed.
The 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen covers off some key areas well, though also has room for improvement in presentation – something that may be delivered by the larger, 10-inch infotainment screen unveiled with the updated 3008.
Voice control is limited – to just radio and phone calls. There’s digital radio and smartphone integration for Apple and Android.
Good storage is expected from an SUV, especially a mid-sizer, and the 3008 doesn’t fall down in this respect.
Although the glovebox is wasted as an option owing to a bulky section containing the vehicle’s main body control computer module, there’s plenty of compensation elsewhere.
The door pockets aren’t deep but they are long and have separation for drinks bottles. The (twin-lid) centre console cubby is huge, too, and includes a small removable tray. Dual cup holders have self-adjusting grips, there’s a oddments tray next to the gearlever, and ahead of that is a smartphone tray with wireless charging and a USB port (there’s also a 12-volt socket).
Peugeot continues to marry form and function in a rear seat that offers decent headroom (even with the optional panoramic sunroof) and generous knee and foot space.
A normal-sized adult can squeeze between child seats in the outboard seats, further helped by the flat floor.
There are rear vents, a 12-volt socket (though no USB ports), netted seatback pouches, and decent door pockets.
The tailgate can be opened and closed either by a button, the key fob or by aiming a kick under the rear bumper.
Boot capacity is quoted at 591 litres, which includes the area above the rear backrests to the roof which most other brands exclude. To the top of the seats there's 520L – a family-friendly size, and very close to the 530 litres of the larger 508 GT wagon.
The 60-40 seatbacks also fold completely flat via convenient release levers, and there’s also a ski port.
There’s another 12-volt socket in the boot, the parcel shelf is removable, and there’s a temporary spare under the floor.
The high-end mainstream experience continues on the road.
The 3008 has a terrific primary ride, rolling along larger undulations with a well-judged balance between comfort and control. The damping seems a little more determined at lower speeds across smaller surface irregularities, though the Peugeot’s suspension in these instances just feels firmer but never gets busy.
There’s an occasional notchiness to the electric steering, though it’s nicely settled around the straight-ahead for freeway drives and its light weighting and compact size lend a sense of nimbleness to the 3008. A tight turning circle adds to the ease of everyday driving.
The 121kW/240Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo engine isn’t the most willing revver and doesn’t endow the 3008 with much of a punch.
But it is a highly refined motor, with a smoothness and quietness that fits in with the SUV’s mainstream-transcending ambitions, and there’s only the slightest of lag before it provides pleasingly linear performance.
The six-speed auto is a similarly solid if unspectacular performer, shifting gears smoothly and precisely – just without the verve of the dual-clutch auto found in the rival Tiguan.
There are paddles, though they are positioned higher than ideal (a result of having to be distanced from the chunky cruise control stalk).
The 3008 is the type of urban-focused SUV unlikely to be high on the list of buyers planning some off-roading, though at this price point all-wheel drive is more common than the 3008's front-wheel drive.
That helps fuel economy, though. The 3008 has official consumption of 7.0 litres per 100km, keeping it below close price rivals such as VW’s 132TSI and 162TSI all-wheel-drive Tiguans (7.5 and 8.1L/100km, respectively) and Toyota’s all-wheel-drive Edge (7.3L/100km).
Premium 95-RON unleaded is a minimum fuel requirement, as with the VWs.
We registered 7.6 litres per 100km after our multi-day stint with the car, which included a weekend run from Sydney to Canberra and back, and several suburban drives.
A turbo diesel engine makes the range-topping 3008 GT the most fuel-efficient model in the range (5.0L/100km).
If a third row of accommodation would come in handy, the larger 5008 – starting from $51,990 – offers 5+2 seating.
Peugeot provides a five-year factory warranty and roadside assistance for the same period.
Servicing costs are high – a similar level to what VW charges for maintaining the Tiguan. Three annual check-ups cost $1737 in total and five visits total $3026. Mileage intervals are generous at 20,000km, at least.
The Peugeot 3008, then, requires a healthy budget for both its initial outlay and its running costs. And at the GT-Line’s price point, buyers could also afford compact luxury SUVs from Audi, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes and Volvo.
The 3008, however, manages to stand out from the crowd of mainstream mid-sized SUVs with its bold yet stylish exterior and an interior that brilliantly blends form and functionality.
It also rides more comfortably than many of the luxury SUVs.
Buyers may just want to wait for the updated 3008 due in early 2021, which could be offered locally with a new plug-in hybrid variant. Or push for a strong run-out deal.