Peugeot is somewhat new to this whole SUV thing, but the French automaker has shown that despite lacklustre early efforts it now has a solid grasp on what makes a good family-sized high-riding wagon.
The 3008 is its midsized five-seater representative in the SUV segment, and the second-generation model sets itself apart from its rivals through eye-catching design and a borderline-premium offering. But is the 3008 too heavy on the glitz and light on substance? As we found, that’s hardly true even at the bottom end of the 3008 model hierarchy.
The Active grade is the entry-point to the 3008 range, though its starting price of $36,990 puts it in line with mid- or high-range variants of most of its (predominantly Japanese and Korean) rivals. Even the Volkswagen Tiguan begins at a lower price point, with a $31,990 retail sticker for the Tiguan 110TSI Trendline.
But working in the Peugeot’s favour is a fat equipment list that makes an automatic transmission standard-issue along with other cool features like an all-electronic instrument panel, sat-nav, wireless phone charging and a strong suite of safety tech. In the context of its specification the 3008 Active’s price tag looks a lot more reasonable, and some may also attach a certain value to the 3008’s European build.
Cost of ownership also plays into the value equation, and with a 1.6-litre turbo petrol four consuming, on average, just 7.0 L/100km, the 3008’s thirst is lower than many rivals too – though it does require premium unleaded.
There’s plenty on offer from an in-car technology point of view. For starters, a large 12.3-inch colour display sits directly ahead of the driver in the place of a traditional analogue speedometer and tachometer, while an 8-inch touchscreen atop the centre stack is the primary infotainment interface.
Ahead of the transmission selector is a wireless phone charging pad, along with a USB port that enables smartphone mirroring via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
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Front and rear parking sensors are standard, along with dual-zone climate control, satellite navigation and a digital radio tuner. Automatic headlamps and wipers cap off the feature list.
The Peugeot 3008 is a mid-sized SUV, with a seating configuration for five people.
Measuring 4447mm long and 1826mm wide, its footprint on the road is considerable given it’s built on the same platform as Peugeot’s 308 small hatch. On the flipside, its 1371kg kerb weight is impressively light for the segment.
Its boot volume is generous, with the area behind the second row offering 591 litres of cargo capacity. Fold the rear seatbacks forward, and that expands to a very useful 1670 litres.
Besides six airbags (dual front, front-side and full-length curtain), three-point seatbelts on all seats and ISOFIX child seat anchorages on the outer rear seats, occupants of the 3008 Active are kept safe by autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning, traction control and stability control.
The AEB system is also able to detect pedestrians, and the 3008 range has been awarded a five-star crash safety rating by ANCAP.
The 3008’s interior is like nothing else in the medium SUV segment, but if you’re the kind of person that values style and elegance that’s definitely a good thing.
The dashboard is the centrepiece of the 3008’s cabin, and its sculptural and asymmetric form looks like it was ripped straight out of a concept car. There’s a small trade off in usability as a result – for example, the centre stack is canted away from the front passenger and thus less easy to use, and it can be difficult to see whether you’ve left anything in the cave-like phone charging tray – but its general ergonomics are sound.
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That is, as long as you can get to grips with Peugeot's unorthodox instrument panel layout, which puts the electronic dash display above the rim of the steering wheel instead of having you peer through the wheel to keep an eye on your speed. It can take some getting used to, but the small diameter of the leather-wrapped steering wheel makes it easier than you might imagine.
Seat comfort is excellent in the front, with the only caveat being a slightly hemmed-in feel for the front passenger's legs thanks to the shape of the centre console.
No such qualms in the back seat, however, where excellent packaging yields plentiful leg, elbow and head room for two adults or three kids. Rear air vents on the back of the centre console also help keep your backseaters cool in an Aussie summer, while the contoured backrests will keep them comfy on long trips.
The cabin experience is capped off by superb material choices that really impart an air of sophistication and premiumness to the 3008's cabin.
ON THE ROAD
Some might regard a 1.6 litre turbo four as being somewhat undersized for an SUV, but while the 3008's petrol four-pot makes a modest 121kW and 240Nm it's helped along by its astonishingly low kerb weight. With the average mid-size SUV weighing at least a couple of hundred kilos more, the Peugeot is able to keep up despite having limited grunt.
Power is taken to the road via a six-speed conventional automatic, which meshes perfectly with the engine thanks to a calibration that ensures slick and seamless – yet decisive – shifts, and gearing that ensures plenty of thrust or fuel-sipping economy depending on what you, the driver, requires of it.
Bear in mind though that the 3008 is only available with front-wheel drive. If the all-weather grip of AWD is a non-negotiable, then look elsewhere. However, if you (like the bulk of SUV buyers) expect to stay confined to the blacktop, then the 3008's excellent roadholding will be more than enough to keep you out of trouble.
The 3008 is unusual for an SUV of its size in that it makes use of a simple torsion-beam rear suspension rather than a more complex multi-link arrangement. Even so, it has few dynamic vices and delivers a supple ride over properly rough tarmac while still feeling quite athletic. There's a slight firmness to its initial bump response that's somewhat unexpected given the fat sidewalls of its tyres, but overall ride quality is terrific.
The fast-ratio steering could be an acquired taste. It certainly puts the 'Sports' into 'Sports Utility Vehicle', but its fast-reacting go-kart-like nature may feel unnatural to those used to the comparatively ponderous steering in other cars.
Peugeot's heritage as an SUV manufacturer is limited, however, it has shown with its second-generation 3008 that it knows how to satisfy the core segment criteria of size and space, while still managing to create something that feels very French in its execution. No other SUV in the mainstream market has as much style and flair as the 3008, and to some shoppers that counts for a lot.
It looks and feels like it's cut from a different cloth to other mainstream SUV rivals, and that's really the 3008's trump card. Pay ordinary money, receive an extraordinary car.