This is Peugeot's new 3008, the French company's first 'crossover' vehicle, and while it will never be classed as a good-looker, as we're about to discover it’s got much to commend it. Even if Peugeot isn't entirely sure exactly what it is.
So what is the Peugeot 3008? MPV? SUV? Hatchback?
All of those and more, says Peugeot. The company describes it as a ‘crossroads’ vehicle – which is just a fancy way of saying it’s a crossover, isn’t it? Of course, for CAR Magazine readers over the age of 35, the word ‘crossroads’ has very different connotations - a soap opera renowned for sets that were poorly-made with terrible performances and woolly dialogue. Could that be an omen?
Could have been. But it’s not. The 3008 is well-made, performs more than adequately (especially if you opt for the 150bhp 1.6-litre petrol tested here) and the only woolly thing about it is Peugeot’s own perception of what exactly this car is and where it sits in the modern car market. Because if its doesn’t know, how the heck will it expect its customers to?
It’s a rival to compact soft-roaders like the Nissan Qashqai and VW Tiguan, isn’t it?
Of course it is, but when the cynical might of the motoring press gathered earlier this week to meet the top bods over from Peugeot’s HQ in Sochaux, we were met with an exercise in presenting a straight bat to make Geoff Boycott jealous. Try as we did to encourage them, they couldn’t utter the word Qashqai or Tiguan. A shame, really, because – whisper it, for Peugeot’s sake, at least – choose the right version and the 3008 is a better car than the Nissan.
Uglier though. That front end is enough to put anyone off.
We can’t dress this up – the 3008 won’t win any beauty contests. In other incarnations, that Peugeot family front grille has been described as a 'whale shark eating plankton', a 'cheesecutter' and a 'kid with braces'. But it seems to work better amid the loftier dimensions of the 3008, which is based on the 308 hatchback. The 3008 is some 140mm higher than the 308 at 1639mm.
But where you can't criticise the 3008 is with its interior design. Squiggly patterned seats aside, it’s an effective vision of quality black plastic with flourishes of silver picking out things like the switchgear, air vents and binnacle surrounds. Peugeot liken it to an aircraft cockpit which, while hardly a novel concept, is difficult to argue with. There’s a bank of seven switches you can fiddle about with before take-off – sorry, driving off – three of which control a head-up display. It’s not like the BMW version, which projects onto the windscreen. Instead there’s a quirky pop-up plastic screen. It looks like one of those things that the Prime Minister uses when giving important speeches, though to be honest, while it’s standard on higher spec models, it’s a bit of a gimmick.
Other than that, other nice touches include a boot light that doubles as a removable torch (like the C3 Picasso) and a split-level shelving system in the boot. Visits to your local Swedish purveyor of flatpack furniture may just get easier with the addition of a front passenger seat that will fold completely flat, thus creating a level area to carry long items, from front to back. There’s a tailgate too.
>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Peugeot 3008 first drive
But will I have fun in it?
If you choose wisely. There are six different engines on offer at launch. Today’s Peugeot buyers normally love its diesels, but we prefer the zesty, lively 150bhp 1.6-litre turbo-powered petrol engine. It’s the one jointly-developed with BMW and as featured in the Mini Cooper. The extra baggage you get with the 3008 means you won’t get total Cooper performance but there’s hints of it. On a winding, empty, downhill stretch of the coastline near Dubrovnik, Croatia, it proved to be a lively performer. Nimble, quick-ish and agile into bends, it’s powerful enough to scoot away with some aplomb on exiting an apex.
The 3008 THP 150 is helped by the Dynamic Roll Control system – a box on the rear axle linking the shock absorbers, which adjusts the dampers to help reduce body roll. Cornering feels flat, with little of the roll you get on cars of similar height. And, if you really must go off-road, there will be a Grip Control system available, a kind of trick 4x4 with settings for snow, mud, sand as well as a standard setting and ESP off.
That engine’s not exactly one for the tree-hugging fraternity though, is it?
The 1.6-litre THP 150 is by no means a green choice with CO2 emissions of 179g/km and a claimed combined mpg of 37.1, but if you can hold on, Peugeot may have an answer. That’s because in 2011, the 3008 will be the recipient of the PSA group’s first hybrid engine. Maybe we’ll all get five grand knocked off of it by the government, too.
Ah. Let’s talk moolah. Tell us more about pricing?
If we could, we would. The car’s not on sale for another four to five months, and all we are being told is that it will be pitched somewhere between the Qashqai and the Tiguan. That means it should start at around £15,500, with the THP 150 we tested here coming in at about the £18k mark.
There’s no doubting that Peugeot’s partners Citroen are making more exciting, visually stimulating, innovative vehicles for young families or 50-somethings looking for an all-rounder. But that doesn’t mean Peugeot are the poor relations in the PSA family. If you can get past its looks – or lack of them – then underneath you have the basis of a good car in the 3008. It has a premium-ish feel inside, while choose the right engine and, dare we say it, you may even have some fun.
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