► Bold new look for Peugeot's best-seller
► Tech improved and trim levels tickled
► We drive high-powered hybrid
Peugeot got the 3008 pretty much bang on right at launch in 2016 – it was big, comfy, good-looking and practical. Enough to make it Europe’s best-selling SUV, European Car of the Year 2017, as well as kick-start a new renaissance for the French brand, leaving behind fat and frumpy in favour of sharp-edged and stylish.
So it’s no surprise that the 3008 SUV’s mid-life facelift has been carefully applied with a fine-edged brush. Why spoil what you already have when it’s still selling so well?
I can’t believe I’m saying this about a mid-sized SUV but… hubba hubba.
The previous 3008 wasn’t exactly a munter. The new model, however, is comfortably the best-looking SUV in its class.
No, you can’t get away from its proportions, which are about as low and sleek as Johnny Vegas, but the details are gorgeous. Peugeot’s given it a new frameless grille, which extends right out to the vertical, sabre-toothed LED daytime running lights. These join up with new LED headlights, while the leading edge of the bonnet gains a ‘3008’ badge.
Round the back, little has changed, but there are now LED light clusters which are smoked to artificially widen the rear end. The overall effect is fantastic, and the new 3008 looks both smart and expensive without being unnecessarily glitzy. Compared to something like a Nissan Qashqai or VW Tiguan? There’s no competition.
Even base models enjoy this smart new look, but as always it’s high-end GT cars that look the best – with big wheels and lashings of surprisingly tasteful chrome. You can opt to switch this out for an optional Black Pack, but this makes the 3008 look a bit unfinished. We’d avoid it.
What else has changed?
Not very much. There are some new seat upholsteries and decorative trims on the inside – like the exterior, purely cosmetic but still rather nice.
Trim levels have been rationalised into five grades – the UK won’t see the entry-level Active, though, so ours run Active Premium, Allure, Allure Premium, GT and GT Premium. All cars get a lovely, swoopy digital dial pack, set high above the shrunken steering wheel in Peugeot’s i-Cockpit format. This can take some getting used to and won’t suit all drivers, but we like it.
Even the basic car comes with keyless start, dual-zone climate control and CarPlay and Android Auto, but you’ll need to step up to Allure to see the next big change – the addition of a 10-inch infotainment screen.
This is an upgrade over the previous car’s eight-inch screen in size but mainly in clarity – it’s now brighter, clearer and higher-resolution. The extra size hasn’t actually been put to much use, as Peugeot’s simply slapped always-on climate controls on either side of the interface.
Which leads us to the first criticism of the 3008 – its centre stack is needlessly complicated to use. The infotainment system is the first culprit, always feeling as though functions take one too many menu systems to use properly – but below that are piano-style keys that take you straight to the major functions, which are poorly lit and hard to see.
A lack of any physical climate controls is also a pain, though hardly unusual in a 2020 car – and we at least found the touchscreen system easier to use than the VW Tiguan’s touch-sensitive slider panels.
What engines can I have?
Mechanically, nothing’s really changed, so Peugeot’s offering the same engine options as the outgoing 3008. That means you can have a 1.2-litre petrol with 128bhp, a 1.6-litre petrol with 178bhp, or a 1.5-litre diesel with 128bhp. Most of these use PSA’s smooth eight-speed automatic, though you can get a six-speed manual with entry-level cars.
Best hybrid cars and plug-ins
There’s no high-powered diesel option – instead, if you want performance and economy, Peugeot will direct you to one of two plug-in hybrid variants. These are badged Hybrid and Hybrid4 – the former offering 222bhp and front-wheel drive, the latter with 296bhp and four-wheel drive. We tested the Hybrid4.
It’s a little bit of an indulgence, with a starting price the wrong side of £40,000 – but a sub-six second 0-62mph sprint, up to 40 miles of range from a fully charged battery, and theoretically super-low running costs. It slips into the six per cent company car tax band, too.
Charge up overnight and stick to short journeys and you may never need to trouble the petrol engine. Even with a discharged battery, though, we saw a combined figure of around 50mpg on longer trips. You can set the system to save charge for later, or even to use the engine to charge up the battery by itself – at the expensive of fuel economy.
It’s good. In some ways, very good, but there are niggles. Those expecting dynamic excellence from this, or indeed any other 3008, will be disappointed – the controls are feather-light, the pedals spongy and the suspension set up for comfort over handling.
This means it does long-distance loping very well, with comfortable, supportive seats and great refinement. But use that 296bhp for anything but a straight-line sprint away from the lights and it soon becomes unstuck.
As we noted when we drove the pre-facelift Hybrid, a Ford Kuga PHEV or Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid offer better value and make more sense than this. We’d probably opt for a petrol-powered 3008 – even the 1.2-litre is powerful enough for most uses, and plenty efficient.
Still practical inside?
Well, the Hybrid models lose a bit of boot space to their batteries – leaving a 395-litre boot instead of the regular car’s huge, 520-litre space. That’s a shame.
Otherwise, there’s still decent rear legroom and high-quality materials throughout. The dash design is totally unlike anything you’d see from German or Japanese rivals – swoopy, with chunky chrome highlights and swathes of mood-lighting and fabric panels. It’s a really nice place to sit.
Unfortunately, stowage for oddments is still as rubbish as ever. The centre armrest hides a decent-sized cubby hole, which is good, because the half-sized glovebox can barely hold gloves.
A few additional changes to the Peugeot 3008 would have been nice – an update to the infotainment software, perhaps, or some improvements to the dashboard layout. But refreshing an already really good package works too, and the new look is a cracking one.
The value of the hybrid models is dubious – they certainly make rivals appear rather cheap, but then Peugeot is gunning for premium brands as well as mainstream mainstays. Still, we think there’s better value to be had lower down the range, where the 3008 doesn’t have to compete with great-value offerings like the Ford Kuga PHEV or Skoda’s plug-in Octavia.
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Specs below are for a 3008 HYbrid4 GT