Peugeot 3008

Turning for the high road heralds a French revolution

JAMES WHITBOURN

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE A PERFECT storm might be overselling the sales forecast for Peugeot’s new medium SUV, but it certainly seems to line up enough fundamentals to give the brand a boost in Oz. As the effective replacement for the Mitsubishi Outlander-based 4007, the new 3008 is a conventional SUV rather than a hatch-derived crossover like its predecessor – the French quirks are in the details.

The new 3008 is built on the excellent EMP2 platform that underpins the 308 hatch, to please buyers in Australia’s most popular and crowded segment, targeting the likes of the Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan.

The fact Peugeot is now handled by the Australian arm of global car retailing giant Inchcape – the operation behind the success of Subaru in Australia – also bodes well for a corresponding upgrade to the delivery of Peugeot service and after-sales support.

Seated inside, the avant-garde interior presentation instantly identifies the 3008 as being aimed at buyers with an eye for design who are happy to embrace nonconformity: The sophisticated mum’s family wagon?

There’s much to like about the flair and functionality of the cabin, with highlights including neatly cloth/leather trimmed seats – bolstered to suit the slim up front – cocooning high console, cool mood-lit strips, piano key shortcut buttons, and a tabletstyle 8.0-inch colour touchscreen.

There’s good legroom in the back, aided by a flat floor, and there are knee-level air vents and USB sockets, though the (optional) panoramic roof intrudes into headroom. The 3008’s big cargo bay, at 520 litres, is about 15 percent bigger than that of a CX-5.

A four-tiered range opens with a well-equipped Active ($36,990 plus on-roads, or $39,990 drive-away initially), which progresses to the Allure tested here ($39,490 plus on-roads), and there are GT-Line and GT versions above. A six-speed automatic with front-drive is standard, and a 121kW/240Nm 1.6-litre turbopetrol features in all except the GT (which we’re yet to drive), that gets a 133kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel offering 4.8L/100km.

The 1.6 turbo gives the 3008 good flexibility, decent mid-range urge and a respectable 9.9sec 0-100km/h claim. It teams well with the auto, and you can always grab one of the paddles, which brings prompt shift action.

Headline weight-savers include a plastic tailgate and boot floor, aluminium front suspension arms and guards, and the use of ultra-high-strength steel to see the 3008 100kg lighter than its MPV predecessor – making it trimmer than its key classmates. The petrols are in small-hatch territory at 1371kg.

More kays and a full test of the line-up awaits, but it’s safe to say from the taut 18-inch-shod Allure that the GT’s 19s will be a bridge too far for comfort. The 3008’s ride is slightly agitated unless the road is glass-smooth, and it’s most noticeable sat out back over the torsion beam. The Active’s 17s may hold part of the solution.

The 3008 feels light on its tyres, responds swiftly to the wheel, rolls little, and possesses palpable balance. Steering feel is inert during urban meandering but there’s a glimmer of connection with the addition of lock and load.

You can feel that this is a relation of the terrific 308, and the Peugeot 3008’s smart SUV packaging, Gallic point of difference, and reinvigorated distribution chain see it well placed to make the best of it.

PLUS & MINUS

Equipment; athletic chassis; cabin flair and functionality; Gallic charm Ride could be calmer; steep entry price; AEB not standard; small fuel tank

FRENCH METHODS 01

Many of the controls are, erm … a bit French, so their operation may not be obvious if you’ve stepped from a RAV4. The cruise control took some figuring, for example. Air-con adjustment via the touchscreen is not ideal.

GAME THEORY 02

The squared-off wheel that comes with the brand’s i-Cockpit layout has the potential to polarise. With the 12.3-inch virtual instrument panel the initial impression is a bit Sega Rally, presumably aimed at Gen-X mums with Timezone form.

STREET APPEAL 03

‘Claw Effect’ tail-lights with sharply raked and hidden C-pillar gives the look of floating roof. Grille and bonnet edge a bit snouty but the overall proportions appeal. Test car’s copper hue not to all tastes.

OR TRY THESE...

Subaru Forester 2.5i-S $39,740

A Forester might not be a left-field choice like the Peugeot, but the Subie does things its own way with a boxer engine and standard all-wheel drive.

Handling cohesion a high point but absorbent ride is its best feature.

Ford Escape Trend AWD $35,990

Escape is a sharp steer and among the alternatives to offer a true basemodel medium-sized SUV for around $10K less than the Peugeot. Or spend similar dough and get a punchy 178kW 2.0 turbo-petrol and AWD.

Pumped up base

The $37K 3008 Active gets driver attention and lanedeparture warning systems, a 12.3-inch virtual instrument panel, 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, an inductive charger for compatible phones, front- and rear-parking sensors with a 180-degree reversing camera, a digital radio tuner, and 3D sat-nav among the fruit. To this amply equipped base, the tested Allure adds keyless entry and start, a terrific 360- degree front and rear camera, park assist, 18-inch alloys, and different two-tone fabric for the seats. You need a 3008 GT-Line to get AEB, though it’s in the optional Safety Pack for the Allure, as is active lane-keeping (disconcerting) and adaptive cruise (brilliant).