What is it? The Peugeot 3008 is the second generation of the company’s mid-size crossover
Key features: Better quality, innovative digital dash
Our view: Compact SUV with particularly impressive interior
Type of review: First UK drive
Since Peugeot launched its first 3008 model in 2009 – a car in those days dubbed a crossover – the compact SUV market in Europe has more than doubled in size. One in four European cars sold is a compact SUV, and in the last seven years a whole lot more manufacturers have come to play in the market.
So a new 3008 arrives not before time, and Peugeot is very clear to differentiate it from its predecessor by calling the newcomer the ‘3008 SUV’. Whereas the first 3008 was more people-carrier than off-roader in its look, this new model boasts the more muscular styling and jacked-up driving position that are proving big successes for its wide variety of rivals.
The car certainly looks the part. It has a much bolder front end with strong vertical lines and most notably the almost vertical grille. There is a high waistline, prominent body mouldings and underside protection that gives the impression of a more off-road styled vehicle, and this is added to by the jacked-up ride height of 220mm and sharp approach and departure angles of 20 and 29 degrees respectively.
The new 3008 is another to use the modular EMP2 architecture developed by Peugeot’s parent company PSA Group. As a result the car is 80mm longer than its predecessor, with a wheelbase increased by 62mm to 2675mm. This of course frees up more interior space, such as 24mm in the rear legroom, and 36mm more headroom so long as one doesn’t go for a glass roof. Boot space jumps considerably too, by almost 90 litres to 520 litres, or 1,670 litres if one drops the rear seats.
The extra space is not, however, the major first impression gained when getting into the 3008. Peugeot has made it clear that one of the pillars of its growth strategy is to move the brand upmarket, achieving this through more exciting, technology packed cars but very importantly through greater quality – and it shows.
The cabin is a very agreeable place to be. The surfaces are to high standards and well fitted, while the dash area is superbly crafted. The driver grips a compact steering wheel with a squared-off top, operates a gear handle, rather than a lever that is as easy to use as it is futuristic-looking. And this lever sits ahead of one of the largest central glovebox units this reviewer has ever seen on a car.
A neat detail is the row of piano-key switches just above the gear shift. These replace the buttons that formerly festooned the touchscreen surroundings, and control most of the car’s major functions. Initially it can be awkward hitting the right key as the graphics are quite small, but it soon becomes second-nature.
Pride of place, however, goes to the latest version of Peugeot’s digital i-Cockpit – a revelation that makes even Audi’s much-praised virtual cockpit look so last-generation.
The system combines the eight-inch touchscreen atop the centre console with a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel in front of the driver. This can be configured in various ways and the graphics involved justify the use of that much–abused phrase state-of-the-art. One can have traditional dials, in a range of finishes that appear as metallic as they are not, or clever scrolling displays that look as if they have come off the set of the latest Star Trek movie. And the system offers a host of clever touches, such as the rev counter graphic dissolving to show a turn instruction when the sat nav is in use. It is tempting to simply just sit and play with the system…
The interior and its i-Cockpit form a major plank of Peugeot’s marketing for the 3008 and that’s a good thing as powertrain-wise there are no big headlines. But this is not a bad thing as the line-up of two petrol engines and four diesels, all familiar units from the Peugeot range, seems well suited to the 3008.
One thing you will not be able to select, however, is all-wheel-drive. Peugeot believes that its customers want the off-road appearance but not the ability, the evidence being that AWD versions of the previous 3008 accounted for less than two per cent of sales.
One all versions of the new 3008 can be had with Grip Control, an electronic traction control system that offers various modes and effectively can provide much of the safety and ability – Peugeot has famously had journalists drive Grip-Control equipped cars up snow-covered indoor ski slopes – that all-wheel-drive offers, but without the complexity, or anything like the cost.
During the launch event, The Car Expert was able to drive cars with the 120hp diesel engine, which is expected to be the most popular among buyers, and the range-topping GT which uses a 180hp diesel and a six-speed auto transmission.
The engines are refined and freely giving of their pace, while the car as a whole is very accomplished. It corners well and stays pleasingly upright, commands issued through well-weighted steering. Only the manual gearbox is occasionally a little less than slick in operation.
The new 3008 range comprises four trim options. The two mainstream levels are dubbed Active and Allure – as part of the upmarket push Peugeot believes buyers will want plenty of equipment and so entry-level Access models are not in the UK range. This means, for example, that all versions include the i-Cockpit.
Also available are GT-Line, offering more sporty styling even with the lowest capacity engines, and the range-topping GT, which only comes with the 180hp diesel and an auto gearbox. This model can also be specified with a two-tone exterior finish dubbed ‘Coupe Franche’ – a look that will not appeal to all…
The new Peugeot 3008 instantly propels itself into contention for the most stylish member of the ever-widening compact SUV club, especially once one gets inside it. There is only one issue, the cost. Its starting price of £21,795 is almost £4,000 more than the equally new SEAT Ateca, which according to Peugeot staff on the launch event is considered the 3008’s direct rival.
So someone in the market for a compact SUV will save themselves a lot of money buying the SEAT – but they will get far more car with the Peugeot…
You should also read: The Car Expert review of the SEAT Ateca
Peugeot 3008 – key specification
On Sale: January 2017
Range price: £21,795- £32,995
Insurance groups: From 11E
Engines: Petrol 1.2, 1.6. Diesel 1.6×4
Power (hp): 135, 165. 100/120/150/180.
Torque (Nm): 230, 240. 254/300/370/400.
0-62mph (sec):10.8*, 8.9. 13.1/11.2*/9.6/8.9.
Top speed (mph): 117*, 128. 108/117*/129/131.
Fuel economy (combined, mpg): 55.4*, 48.7. 70.6/70.6/64.2/58.9.
CO2 emissions (g/km): 117*, 129. 103/104*/114/124.
Key rivals: SEAT Ateca, Renault Kadjar, Volkswagen Tiguan.
Test Date: November 2016.
* = with manual gearbox.