Peugeot’s six-speed torque converter automatic doesn’t have the finger-click shifts of a dual-clutch auto but it’s no slusher, being smart enough to merrily flick down a ratio at the right time and changing up appropriately to keep the 1.6 at a near-silent hum on the motorway. Pressing the 3008’s Sport mode button undoes this a little bit, prompting the transmission to hunt for lower ratios too eagerly, while the steering becomes too heavily weighted. It needn’t be that way, because staying out of Sport mode leaves the steering feeling more naturally weighted and with a pleasing evenness. There’s an argument for the rack being a little too quick, but given that body roll is nicely contained, it’s not a significant issue. The 3008 is fundamentally a softer-sprung small SUV than its rivals, though.
Fast undulations result in noticeable but well-controlled vertical movements, while road scars, ruts and potholes are all dealt with well, even if midcorner bumps are more of a problem. There’s more than enough grip for brisk country blasts and no unwanted rear axle movement off the throttle, but the front wheels will give up if you push hard enough. No 3008 gets all-wheel drive, but Peugeot’s Grip Control system is an option, along with mud and snow tyres and a hill descent function.
This 3008 is a marked improvement in the ride and handling department, then, and it’s a real step forward inside. It’s clear that perceived quality and a premium feel were the target, and the 3008’s new ‘i-Cockpit’ cabin works well. An Audi-style high-resolution 12.3in digital instrument cluster and an 8.0in touchscreen are standard on all cars, the cluster being fully customisable via the standard multifunction steering wheel, even if its menus aren’t always easy to navigate.
Peugeot has also introduced a BMW-style gear selector on auto models, and it looks and feels substantial. Dashboard material and switchgear quality is a massive improvement, surpassing that of a Nissan Qashqai and giving a Seat Ateca a run for its money. Equipment such as the aforementioned screens, plus Bluetooth, USB connection, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, climate control, rear parking sensors, lane departure and automatic emergency braking on all 3008s is aggressively good for the class, too.
Furthermore, four (but not quite five) adults will sit comfortably. With rear seats that split 60/40 and fold completely flat (via boot-mounted levers) and an adjustable load bay floor, it’s practical, too. The boot itself has great access, with no load lip and a usefully square shape, and is larger than those of rivals.
Based on our drive on Italian roads, the new 3008 is a dynamically well-rounded small SUV (as long as the Sport button is left alone), while this petrol version’s performance and refinement are more than a match for its peers’ equivalents. Quality, standard kit, space and practicality are all good enough for the 3008 to be mixing with the best small SUVs.
However, and quite fundamentally, we know nothing of prices at this time, save for a range starting point of £21,795 for the entry-level 1.2 Puretech with a manual gearbox in cheapest Active trim. This high-powered petrol model with automatic gearbox is very likely to be north of £26,000 and therefore not worth considering for the majority. Keep things more sensible with a 1.2 petrol or a 1.6 diesel, though, and the 3008 makes a more convincing case for itself than ever before in this hotly contested class.