Compact SUVs can be dreadfully boring things, can’t they? Accomplished and practical, sure. Some are even good to drive, and many are very efficient. However, unless you start paying the big bucks for premium products, your crossover is likely to be a bit dull.
But French brand Peugeot has been on a bit of a roll with its range, revamping its formerly dour line-up and giving it that extra layer of gloss and glitz. It’s best summed up in the new 508 saloon, but for six months we’ll be living with the crossover alternative – the 3008.
We’ve got the keys to a rather handsome 3008 in GT-Line trim – an eye-catching package that in our case pairs ‘Ultimate Red’ paintwork with plenty of chrome trim and glamorous 18-inch alloy wheels.
It’s fitted with Peugeot’s 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel engine and a six-speed manual gearbox, driving the front wheels only. After all, nobody really buys these cars to go off road – so why pay the fuel economy and cost penalty?
The end result is a genuinely good-looking crossover. I’d love to say it stands out from the crowd, but I live a stone’s throw from a Peugeot dealer and see two identical cars every morning. Regardless, the brand’s upright ‘family face’, the blacked-out ‘floating’ roof and chunky proportions give it decent road presence, while distinctive light signatures front and rear mean it’s recognisable day or night.
Swoopy and stylish, inside and out
The looks are just one thing that Peugeot’s doing very well; the interior’s another. I’ve recently stepped out of a Vauxhall Grandland X – a car that’s virtually identical to the 3008 under the skin. But the two interiors couldn’t be further apart. Where the Vauxhall is staid, straight-edged and sensible, the Peugeot is swooping and stylish.
I love the way Peugeot’s used chunky metal highlights, different material textures and piano-style switches, meaning that while this isn’t the best-equipped car around, it still feels a million dollars on the inside.
GT-Line brings a decent level of kit, but there are a few notable omissions that I’m missing from my Grandland X. As the weather gets colder, the lack of heated front seats is disappointing (call me a wimp), and the lack of keyless start feels a little antiquated.
I can certainly live without an electric tailgate though, and the basic low-quality reversing camera more than suits my needs. A 360-degree system is optional but I wouldn’t bother, as the 3008 only really lacks visibility out of the rear.
Less essential? Well, the cabin fragrance system seems a bit much…
GT-Line trim also brings with it the latest digital version of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit. This is the latest evolution of Peugeot’s high-dial, small-wheel driving environment, and I must say I’m a fan. The graphics are great, the system’s responsive and I find it all very easy to use.
Petrol or diesel?
As for driving? Well, I mentioned that I’ve just experienced the mechanically-identical Grandland X, but that was a 1.2-litre petrol model. My 3008 is a diesel, and it’s a far better-suited powertrain. It’s punchy and economical, and exactly what the car needs.
It also feels better resolved, with a more natural clutch and gearbox action. Ride and handling? They’re nothing to write home about, but the 3008 is comfortable, safe and stable. And really, what more could you ask for from a family bus?
I’ll be doing plenty of long-distance travel in the 3008 over the next few months – regular trips between my home in Southampton, Cheltenham and Great Yarmouth necessitate 600+ miles of driving over a single weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Peugeot copes…
Model: Peugeot 3008 GT-Line 1.5 BlueHDi 130
Price: £30,454 on-road
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel
Power: 130 hp
Torque: 300 Nm
Top speed: 119 mph
0-60mph: 10.6 seconds
Fuel economy: 67.4 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions: 109 g/km