Eye-catching…but is it enough to convince newcomers?
“The stance is very much SUV-like, but you can drive it around like a car,” said Ershad.
“The hood lines continue into hatchback-like contours and feature roof rails for added SUV oomph!”
“Gone are the boring plastics and dull finishes; this is something clearly modern and chic.”
“The small steering has a purpose, which includes giving a clear line of vision for the driver and also improving on the steering/driver knee proximity.”
The 2017 European Car of the Year: that was my weekend test car. The keys bore the unmistakable ‘Lion’ logo and carried a hint of French aroma.
The Peugeot 3008 it is, and it’s the latest entrant into the ever-buzzing and expanding crossover segment. From 2009 onwards, there has been this unbelievable rise in demand for crossovers that every manufacturer is rushing to cash in on. Lifestyles change and so do trends. Crossovers are hot sellers today.
Exiting my apartment lift, the Magnetic Blue Peugeot 3008 looked striking in the parking lot and had an imposing stance. I guess this is one reason why people prefer crossovers to SUVs. The stance is very much SUV-like, but you can drive it around like a car. The new 3008 replaces the MPV-based previous-gen 3008, which was just another car on the road. The updated model is dressed up like a proper SUV, has a high ride height and most importantly, keeps up with the modern design characteristics. The high waistline and the black cladding running around lower sections hints at the new 3008 adapting itself into the current market flow. Wheels are well sized and the wheel-to-wheel arch gap looks fit for an urban crossover. Get closer and you can’t help but notice the roof finished in gloss black and the completely blacked out door pillars, which contrast well-especially on my blue test car.
Opening the door and settling into the driver seat, I am welcomed by a not-so-Peugeot type interior. Gone are the boring plastics and dull finishes; this is something clearly modern and chic. The seat hugs well to your body and you would definitely be surprised by the small steering wheel. For a vehicle of these dimensions and cabin-air, you would clearly expect a chunkier steering unit. The small steering has a purpose that includes giving a clear line of vision for the driver and also improving on the steering/driver knee proximity. Good job there!
I decided to take a moment to understand the Peugeot i-cockpit concept, which was marked in bold in my media kit. At a quick glance, the design is easy on the eye with mostly straight-line sections and a line of ‘piano-key’ toggle switches that cannot be missed. Most of the functions like radio, climate control, navigation, vehicle settings, etc. can be accessed with these toggle switches if the touchscreen doesn’t appeal much to you. An eight-inch touchscreen takes up the top spot on the center console and features capacitive technology for ease of use. The highlight here would be the screen mirroring feature which can mirror your phone screen, thereby reducing the tendency to take your eyes off the road for that important message or email. A much wider 12.3-inch screen lies bang in front of you and displays almost any info related to the car or navigation, apart from the usual km/h and rpm readings.
Also notable, is the use of material in the interior. There is leather, brushed chrome, gloss black and cloth. The use of cloth is surprisingly welcoming on the door panels and dash inlays. A/C vents look straight out of my fifth grade geometry book, but gel in well with the overall theme. I-cockpit is a great place to spend some time in!
A gentle press on the start-stop button brings the 1.6-liter turbo engine to life. Putting out a modest 165-horsepower and generating a torque of 240 Nm at 1,400 rpm, the Peugeot 3008 is made to suit the daily driver. Pushed hard; the 3008 revs high easy and smooth. Even though there are no mind boggling zero-to-sixty figures or space shuttle grade top speeds, the 3008 will give you enough and more to scamper around the urban jungle-as well as enjoy motorway speeds. Minimal road and wind noise are filtered into the cabin, which makes sure that the i-cockpit remains your place of Zen. Even with the 18-inch wheels on our top spec GT-line, the 3008 maintains its calm and composure over rough patches and humps. The suspension system is comfortable and it’s a key factor for a crossover buyer. There is evident body roll on fast S-curves, which reminds you that you are not driving some sports-tuner. Occasionally, the steering tricks you into thinking that you are driving a quirky hatchback, but the fact is this is a fairly large sized vehicle with ample space for five adults and a big cargo hold. Rear seats fold in 1/3 or 2/3 configuration to accommodate long cargo. Around town, the 3008 feels very agile and dimensions are soon a myth. The only minor hassle would be the reduced rear visibility through the small rear windscreen but that is quickly compensated by excellent parking support systems like Visio Park (360-degree view) and Park Assist. The 3008 features even more driver assistance systems like adaptive cruise control with stop function, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, active safety brake and adaptive headlamp beams. These work together to ensure that driving remains stress-free even on long hauls.
After a quick 150-kilometer sprint, we took a short break for tea and here’s where I noticed some new design elements. Based on the new Peugeot platform, the 3008 is lighter, stronger and thereby more efficient. This applies to the drive feel, fuel consumption and interior space. The completely new 3008 features a near-vertical front end with a big smiling grille and chrome surrounds. The headlamp cluster looks very modern and feline, especially in the top spec full-LED avatar. The lower part of the front bumper is mostly slotted for airflow and adorns a skid-plate lookalike in brushed aluminum finish. Fog lamps neatly fit into a contoured slot where the all-around black cladding meets the front bumper. Overall, I felt too many finishes and colors up front, which may feel confusing on an otherwise well-designed car. The long swooping bonnet is something not common in today’s crossovers and this reduces the top-heavy look to a great extent. The hood lines continue into hatchback-like contours and feature roof rails for added SUV oomph! The rear end features a bold horizontal section beneath the rear windscreen finished in gloss black and houses the claw-shaped taillight cluster. The lower section is essentially covered by black plastic cladding topped with a chrome strip. You also get that magic button which opens and closes the boot door when you wave your leg under the rear bumper. A small roof spoiler helps to further cut off the tall looks of the car. Thin horizontal slats for the exhaust pipes-a bit overdone for a 165-horsepower crossover?
On the whole, the new Peugeot 3008 offers a great package and the five-year manufacturer’s warranty will make it further attractive for customers. The brand suffers from lack of exposure and low resale values (at least in the UAE); and calls for aggressive marketing propaganda. It would be exciting to watch how Peugeot decides to pit the 3008 against its rivals. The ‘European Car of the Year’ is here for good reason and I would love to see it on UAE motorways.
Pros: Fresh design, frugal to run, nice infotainment package
Cons: Lack of brand presence, four-wheel drive option not available
Rivals: Renault Koleos, Nissan X-Trail, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, Infiniti QX50, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Volkswagen Tiguan
one word: urban commuter
1.6L turbo, inline 4-cylinder, 165 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 240 Nm @ 1,400 rpm
FWD, 6-speed automatic
0-100 km/h: 9.5 secs, top speed: 206 km/h, fuel consumption: 6.5 L/100 km
Weight: 1,300 kg