Peugeot has has an interesting history with SUVs. Its first foray into the softroader class came via a pair of rebadged Mitsubishi products, which, although they provided a small sales boost, were anything but genuine Peugeot products.
The French automaker has learnt fast though. Its in-house 2008 small SUV has lead the charge, and now a crucial new medium SUV has arrived, wearing the 3008 badge that once belonged to an odd-looking minivan and now adorn a car that could easily become the brand’s top-seller in Australia.
The exterior styling is 100 percent SUV, and the interior is 100 percent Peugeot, full of unexpected materials (like felted dash panels) with a layout that could be straight from a concept car. Will Australian buyers be swayed by the 3008’s charms? TMR’s first drive suggests they just might be.
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $36,990 - $49,490 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 121kW/240Nm 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 133kW/400Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo diesel | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.0 l/100km petrol, 4.8 l/100km diesel
Peugeot is pitching itself as premium brand as it re-establishes itself in Australia with a new distributor, meaning it won’t play a cut-price game, but nor will it position itself out of the reach of mainstream buyers, with cars like the Volkswagen Tiguan and Mazda CX-5 in the 3008's sights.
Australian buyers get four variants to choose from, including the petrol-powered Active, Allure, and GT Line and topped by the diesel only GT. All come with front-wheel drive, which is a little unusual for the segment, although all wheel drive via hybrid assistance will be added at some point in the future.
Pricing starts from $36,990 plus on-road costs for the 121kW 3008 Active, which isn’t a base model in a traditional sense (there’s a lower spec Access model available overseas) as Peugeot considers the take-up rate of base models too low as Aussie buyers flock to mid-to-high grade cars.
To balance the value equation, the standard features list has been padded out with dual-zone climate control, a digital instrument cluster, leather steering wheel, Apple Carplay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity and more.
- Active: Cloth seat trim, dual-zone climate control, wireless mobile charging, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, cruise control with speed limiter, rear seat ventilation, front and rear park sensors, rear privacy glass, electric park brake, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto headlights and wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels
- Allure: Keyless entry and start, semi-autonomous parking, fabric dashboard insert, 18-inch alloy wheels
- GT Line: Interior fragrance package, extended ambient lighting, sports steering wheel, black mirror caps, LED headlights and fog lights, sports front bumper and grille
- GT: Alcantara seat trim, Alcantara dashboard trim, chrome mirror caps, powered driver’s seat with massage function, 19-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch touchscreen, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, satellite navigation,
- Cargo Volume: 520 litres to rear seats, 1482 litres to front seats
Francophiles, rejoice! For the first time in modern history the glovebox in a RHD Peugeot is large enough to accommodate the owner's manual. No, the glovebox isn’t very big still, but it is at least large enough to hold the books, a pair of sunnies and a few other small items.
The 3008 also has a trick up its sleeve (or rather in its centre console) which looks like a normal console from the outside, but reaches far forward under the gear selector, making it big enough to store iPads, handbags, or big bottles - or any combination of the three all at once.
Utility is one side of the coin, but it's the interior style that will really divide opinion. Peugeot has stuck with its ‘i-Cockpit’ interior concept meaning a tiny steering wheel set low, with an instrument cluster that you look at over the wheel, not through it.
Interior buttons are almost a thing of the past with most functions handled by the 8.0-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash - though sensibly Peugeot has now added a few extra shortcut buttons in a panel below the screen making it easier to jump between functions.
It’s still not possible to simply adjust the interior temperature or skip radio stations without cueing up the right menu screen first, but it’s much more logical than the system found in the 308 hatch range.
If you’re very tall the low steering wheel can feel a bit in-the-way and the high-set driver’s seat can’t be quite lowered enough but if you’re of short stature (like I am) the i-Cockpit system actually works very well.
Interior space is a little hit and miss. Up front there’s no shortage of room, and even with a high centre console dividing driver and passenger there’s no sense of claustrophobia, helped by the interior design that looks and feels contemporary with a clever mix of materials and mood lighting giving a high-end feel.
In the rear, passengers aren’t given a wealth of headroom; it’s okay in standard form, but add the optional panoramic roof and the headlining becomes very close. Legroom is generous, but width isn’t as this is a four-seater with an occasional-use fifth seat, but thankfully visibility through the side glass isn’t cut off as it is in so many new SUVs.
Across the range, Peugeot has installed a multi-configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with detailed animations and a variety of clever viewing options. There’s native smartphone mirroring and standard satellite navigation across the board too.
Perhaps a little odd, all models come with cloth trim of some description, with Alcantara in the GT and the option of leather on the Allure, or Nappa leather on the GT Line and GT, where arguably leather trim should be standard at the price. But on the plus side, those that don’t like hot leather seats in summer will find the choice a welcome one.
At 520 litres the boot is handily sized, although the loading lip is high. A dual-level boot floor adds a little versatility and the rear seats can be dropped from inside the boot for ease of access. Once again, a powered tailgate is an option on Allure, GT LIne, and GT where it should have been standard on the top-spec car at least.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 121kW/240Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol (Active, Allure GT Line), 133kW/400Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (GT)
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
- Brakes: Ventilated front discs, solid rear discs
- Steering: Electric power steering turning circle)
- Towing Capacity: 600kg braked (petrol), 1700kg braked (diesel)
The Peugeot 3008 gives buyers a choice of two engines, with a 121kW/240Nm 1.6-litre turbo petrol for the Active, Allure and GT Line and a more powerful 133kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel reserved for the top-shelf GT.
Both are matched to a six-speed automatic with front-wheel drive, meaning no all-wheel drive option for buyers looking to escape the tarmac and head into more adventurous terrain.
Realistically, most urban SUVs won't venture too far off the beaten path. Some might get to travel down a gravel road, others end up in muddy carparks at soccer practice, but that’s it.
With that in mind, Peugeot has made an optional ‘Enhanced Grip Control’ system available for the Allure, GT Line, and GT which tailors the stability control to surfaces like snow, mud, or sand at the twist of a knob as well as including Downhill Assist Descent Control.
On a few lightly challenging gravel tracks the system proved that it could make it through mud, down hilly slopes, and through sandy conditions without too much effort, but a lack of extra traction and its restricted ride height will limit real off-road forays.
In less challenging situations, be it open road cruising or school-run drop offs, the 3008 proved far more suitable. Peugeot only gave a very brief first drive impression, so until the chance for a more thorough examination arises it’s difficult to give a definitive verdict on what the 3008 is really like.
Certainly both petrol and diesel engines seemed to deliver impressive refinement with some of the best engine and road noise suppression in the medium SUV class.
Both are smooth and fluent to drive, with the turbo punch of the petrol making it feel confident, if not blistering, with enough torque in reserve for confident overtaking and open road cruising.
The diesel GT on the other hand needs to be pushed a little harder to deliver its potential. Although the engine is far torquier, the sleepy nature of the transmission takes the shine off in the default setting. But engaging Sport mode helps wake it up, making for a more engaging drive.
Ride quality seems up to scratch on patchy rural roads, as the 18-inch wheels of the Allure and GT Line deliver a more comfortable ride than the larger 19s of the GT - but even it isn’t too punishing.
Through sweeping bends, the 3008 holds the road with reassuring stability and a properly connected feel, enhanced by the tiny steering wheel that channels a go-kart like driving experience. The extra weight in the front of the diesel GT can be felt at times, but doesn't throw off the otherwise engaging balance.
Only the diesel engine comes with fuel-saving start-stop technology, and it ignites quickly and smoothly.
The six-speed automatic works well with either engine as it’s smooth and sensibly configured to keep the engines operating in their optimal zone without labouring or over-revving the way some fellow European competitors can. Thanks to a ‘traditional’ hydraulic auto there’s no jerky low-speed dual-clutch behaviours, or droning CVT whine either.
ANCAP Rating: 5 Stars - the Peugeot 3008 scored the maximum five-star rating when tested in 2017 by Euro NCAP.
Safety Features: All 3008 variants come standard with six airbags, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic stability and traction control, driver fatigue monitoring, camera-based speed limit recognition, lane departure warning, and a 180-degree rear view camera.
Additional standard features on the GT Line and GT (available as an option package for the Allure) include active lane keeping assist, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam, 360-degree camera and advanced driver attention alert.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Peugeot 3008 is the car that could really make a big impact for the brand in Australia. Sure it doesn’t have the same attention grabbing entry price of some of its rivals, but mainstream competitors from Kia, Toyota, or Hyundai are left in the shade when it comes to standard equipment.
Those brands that claim a degree of premiumness, like Mazda and Volkswagen offer more serious competition, where there’s a bit of tit-for-tat in the standard features lists of the top-spec models, although for interior design and innovation neither comes close to the incredibly impressive Peugeot.
The 3008 still won't suit all buyers. Tthe lack of all-wheel drive, a tiny towing capacity for petrol models, and the controversial i-Cockpit steering wheel and dash design are sure to turn some potential owners away, but for those that still see the appeal, the 3008 proves that Peugeot can deliver individuality and practicality in one well-resolved package.
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