Here’s Peugeot’s second-gen family crossover, while most makers are only on their first. So with the benefit of hindsight, it’s figured out what was wrong with the 3008. And, to be fair, what was right.
Dynamics were largely right. Again the new one – now moved onto the group’s strong, light EMP2 platform – moves down the road with pleasing dexterity. The interior quality of the first 3008 was a big step forward for Peugeot, but others soon overtook it. Acknowledging that, the new 3008 has taken a quantum move ahead.
What was wrong? Principally, that seven-year-old car looked a bit of a bloater. Peugeot had wanted its SUV to have an MPV-ish cabin, so the windscreen was pushed awkwardly forward and the sides flubbed out over the wheels. This time they’ve secured better space by lengthening the wheelbase, while the new platform cuts the overhangs, and the body is chiselled into the lantern-jawed and jewelled stylings SUV buyers love. Buff.
Peugeot’s first ‘iCockpit’, in the 208, moved the instruments above the steering wheel and dropped the wheel’s size to let you see them. The idea being that the car would feel agile (small wheel) and the clocks would gain prominence. But for lots of drivers, the wheel rim jutted across them. Then the 308’s iCockpit shoved most functions including climate and drive systems onto a central screen. Sadly a laggy and lo-res screen. Now the 3008 iCockpit puts even more onto the screen, and replaces the driver’s dials with another digi-display.
And at long last, it’s a triumph. All 3008s, even the cheapest, have the virtual display for the dials, as well as the big central touchscreen. From the second trim up, the touchscreen has a seamlessly integrated TomTom. That screen is quick to respond, with clean graphics and smooth answers to your fingertips. Below that is a set of high-quality satin-metal piano keys for short cutting between functions.
The sweeping dash and door construction is clad in a stylish high-quality set of plastics, cloths and genuine matt oak, with LED accent illumination to jolly it up at night.
The engines come from the middle of the 308 range: no low-power stragglers, no GTi screamer. Top one is a 2.0-litre diesel. They sent TG off in the auto version. It spreads its torque across a wide rev range, but crack the whip and it’s a bit gruff, its spirit suppressed by the transmission. The big seller will be the 1.6 diesel manual, low on CO2 and perfectly class-competitive. At the other extreme, a 130bhp 3cyl petrol manual. That version is a full 200kg lighter than the 2.0 auto, and is quieter, livelier to rev and much sweeter to use. Even if it’s a couple of seconds slower to 62mph.
Arrive at the bends and it heels, but predictably and progressively. If there are bumps in the bend, the damping keeps things under control without clenching the body uncomfortably. Cruising will matter more to buyers, and it tracks straight, even if the small steering wheel might have fooled you into expecting twitchiness.
Thanks to the soft chassis and finely judged dampers, this is a fine-riding SUV, let down only a little by a trace of bobbliness at low town speeds. Well-shaped seats look after the driver and mate. In the back, space isn’t so great – the optional glass roof cramps headspace, and unless the people in front raise their seat height you can’t get your feet in under.
Off-road, it’s only FWD, but soft suspension and high clearance generally keep things moving. An optional pack pairs off-road tyres to a terrain-switchable set of traction calibrations that will take it a fair way up the hill. Coming down, Peugeot has added some ingenious new interface features to everyone else’s descent-control electronics. For real 4×4, wait a year for the plug-in hybrid version, which will have a petrol engine (because China) in front and electric drive at the rear.
Tick the boxes and the 3008 has the buzzword-bingo gamut of driver aids. Another option is a charging/storage dock in the boot for an electric folding stand- up scooter. PHEV, advanced driver assist, integrated multi-modal solution, crossover. What better portmanteau of every trending car-industry topic?