BOLOGNA, ITALY – Peugeot’s new 3008 crossover is about to enter the cutthroat compact SUV market where a new Volkswagen Tiguan is being met with widespread acclaim, so are its rakish looks complemented by some genuine substance? I got behind the wheel of the 2,0-litre turbodiesel automatic to see if there really is more to the 3008 than meets the eye.
Styling sea change
Although a capable little car in its own right, the previous 3008’s globular silhouette lent it an awkward, jellybean-with-braces sort of bearing. But, with its more purposeful two-box design awash with myriad sheetmetal cuts, curves and creases, the new 3008 is a far more handsome affair than its predecessor. This shapelier shell is punctuated with brightwork that’s tastefully executed in a satin-chrome finish and neat details such as those claw-mark brakelamp arrays and sequentially sweeping LED indicators. Although refreshing, the new car’s design is fairly colour sensitive; the bronze body/black roof combination is particularly fetching, while pearlescent white and grey tend to hide some of car’s more interesting facets.
The new Peugeot 3008 utilises an evolved version of the firm’s compact steering wheel/narrow instrument binnacle driver’s array that plays host to a very slick-looking i-cockpit digital instrument system. It’s a genuinely impressive set-up that integrates vehicle information, media and navigation in a crisp interface that transitions with smooth animations and features such rolling-ring increments for the speedo and rev counters framing the primarily selected functions. All of this is set in a sweeping dash featuring a satin chrome swathe that wraps around the driver and is crowned by a touchscreen and piano key-type toggle switches for main functions. There’s a pleasingly quirky and tactile nature to the cabin fittings, with unusual touches such as herringbone cloth seat panels, limed wood and plastic-impregnated canvas facia trims among the number; all of which form part of a well-insulated and solidly constructed cabin.
The new Peugeot 3008 is underpinned by a slightly modified version of the EMP2 platform that currently does service in a wide array of models, including the well-received 308 hatch. In terms of dimensions, the 3008 is a few millimetres shy of the Tiguan in almost every measurable respect, but it’s still a reasonably practical package. Second-row legroom is sufficient for a six-footer with a similarly tall passenger up front; head- and shoulderroom are both fairly generous; and Peugeot claims boot and utility dimensions of 520 and 1 482 dm3, respectively.
On the road
That platform also lends itself well to endowing the 3008 with decent poise on the open road. The suspension is on the firm side, but it contributes to good body control when tackling bends, is well resolved and is fairly resistant to rebound, even over larger road imperfections. The steering has a fast, lightweight rack but that tiny steering wheel gives the impression of the car being pointier than you’d expect. Wind and road noise are well suppressed at motorway speeds, making the 3008 a fairly serene long-distance traveller.
No strain on the powertrain
If there’s one aspect of its cars at which PSA is particularly adept it’s small turbodiesels, and the proven 2,0-litre, four-cylinder unit in the 3008 is no exception. With 110 kW and 370 N.m on tap, it’s a smooth and flexible feeling engine that meshes well with the six-speed automatic transmission and has just enough poke to prove fairly entertaining. It’s also a mechanically refined unit that, once over its cold-idle clatter phase, is quiet, even when worked upon overtaking.
Although most 3008s will likely be town-bound for most of their tenures, it’s reassuring to know that sojourns over rutted gravel roads and declines can be comfortably dispatched. On a short route through pitted and rutted gravel farm roads, the 3008 acquitted itself well. There are plenty of traction-monitoring safety nets to keep the car in check on loose surfaces and a handy 220 mm of ground clearance should ensure that you won’t be grading rough roads with the 3008’s underbody.
Select models also feature a multi-mode ESP system similar to that found in the 2008. This unit oversees traction on a variety of surfaces, replicating the actions of a limited-slip diff in certain scenarios. There’s also a hill-descent control system that utilises engine braking, traction control and brakes to manage traversing declines, leaving the driver to man the tiller, and nothing else.
With the popularity of compact crossover/SUVs on our market showing little sign of abating, Peugeot’s latest addition to the fold should be met with a warm reception. Not only does it have sufficient kerbside appeal to make its presence felt, but there’s a genuinely good little car beneath it all. Peugeot’s local arm is in need of an injection of sales success; the 3008 could well be the antidote to the firm’s undeservedly sluggish sales when it launches in the first quarter of 2017.