What can be said about a nameplate that with its first generation failed to gain widespread acclaim due to its quirky positioning that actually took the whole crossover idea to a level no one actually wanted? Well, the second generation has already won the 2017 European Car Of The Year award, so things have been taken care of.
Let’s just see how well was the 3008 taken care of, as the model is not only speaking in Peugeot’s new design language, or is it previewing the second-generation Peugeot i-Cockpit for the make but it’s also serving as the basis for models bearing the Opel/Vauxhall badges. But we’re not here to discuss the partnership between PSA and Opel/Vauxhall, which has since morphed into a full acquisition – we’re here to see how fares the 3008 in the sea of compact crossovers. We’ve already had our first encounter with the 3008 range, and for this review decided to settle first on the range-topping model, the GT. Note, the regular version also has the GT Line, which is a case of getting the styling bells and whistles without the costs of using the top of the line engine. And yes, the 3008 GT does use a diesel engine – just understand that while VW and presumably others were wrong to fool us all with software and hardware shenanigans, the diesel technology is not dead yet, and will still be around just as much as its gasoline counterpart. I for one I am a fan of petrol cars – when we’re discussing hot hatchbacks, sports coupes, motorsport machines and limousines (any limousine, from BMW 7 Series to RR Phantom VIII). But when it comes to family and city cars – as well as SUVs – nothing beats diesel, with its high efficiency and low-rpm torque. This is the case with the Peugeot 3008 GT, a high riding model that would feel out of place with a petrol engine under the hood – just as the entire first-generation 3008 felt out of place in its segment (it was never sure whether it would fit the SUV or MPV genre). The new 3008 – from the lowest powered model that comes with prices that pit it as an affordable yet stylish compact SUV to the 3008 GT, the second generation is decidedly a proper crossover. Even with just front wheel drive and no AWD option – more on that later on.
Design, Interior and Gadgets
First of all, you’re not going to win the 2017 European Car of the Year accolade – for the first time for an SUV – without dazzling the jury from the start. And the 3008 surely has what it takes in terms of design to stand out in a crowd of SUVs – and man, it’s a large crowd in the compact segment. The 3008 – more so in the GT form – is not for everyone, though. If you’re looking for a reliable, sturdy compact SUV that will take you places others can’t, let’s end this – look somewhere else. The 3008 GT is for the hipster generation, for the tech oriented crowd that never relinquishes the smartphone – and also for the stylish people that want to look the part when going for a picnic, hitting the gym or seeing the latest concert at the Opera. In general, the latest design styling of the Peugeot house is evolving towards the brand’s imposed threshold – they need to reach near-premium status in order to compete with rivals such as Volkswagen and also make room for the affordable Citroens. On the styling front, they’re doing it with ritzy lines, the usually large grille remaining a centerpiece – now textured and with the right dimensions, exaggerations from the past are now a distant memory. Power lines are everywhere – there’s even one that breaks in half the headlights – one element I would have left out if I were a company designer, but then again it’s an opinion. The lines are making the 3008 feel dynamic without looking overly aggressive – and the styling seems to suit well both guys and gals. The GT’s distinctive feature is the two-tone paint job – we’ve seen such ideas before, but they were done horizontally not vertical as is the case here. You might think the latter – different colored – portion of the body has a decal, but it’s actually the real deal, with neat craftsmanship needed to blend the two paints at the edge. Otherwise, the GT plays it safe – without other elements to differentiate from the regular models – which is fine, because the bodywork was already riddled with lines, chromed elements and plastic protections, adding more would have spilled the design glass into overdesign. Oh, they do have fender flares and 19 inch two-tone diamond-cut BOSTON wheels, which are of course exclusive to the version.
I’ll reserve later judgment on how Peugeot’s crowded design styling withstands the test of time – especially up front – but I’m pretty sure the back side will remain a staple for the brand for years to come. As crowded as the front and sides have been designed, the rear marvels through simplicity – the distinctive visual elements being the way the C-pillar meets the shoulder line and of course the taillights. With three stripes, they are evocative of the lion’s sharp claws – and also great looking through their minimalistic design. Moving inside, I’m giving the thumbs up to the rather huge doors – they are very tall because they include the lower sill-guard, so you won’t get dirt on your clothes when the body has. You might say this is only needed when off-roading – but how many times before have you smudged your trousers after a heavy rain in the city? More and more SUVs are using this neat trick – and this is just another small element that makes people appreciate crossover so much when opting for a new vehicle. Just like any other 3008, the GT’s piece de resistance is of course the second generation i-Cockpit, making it feel for the driver as if it’s entering a vehicle from the future. If someone from the rocket-age 1960’s would have designed a car for the XXI century, it would have looked like this – with fully digital instrument cluster, a few aeronautical touches via the chromed switches and a large dashboard infotainment display to handle all the functions. The choice of materials is again making a statement – you get tri-material TEP/ Alcantara trimming, as well as Nappa Mistral leather and copper double topstitching. There’s even genuine aged-oak trim on the dashboard and door panels – though it actually feels a bit as if made of plastic and only inspired by real wood. It’s an oddity – the 3008 GT certainly looks high-tech and feels posh to the touch and feel, but there are still elements that give away this is not really a premium brand – such as certain joints where different materials meet.
Also, even if the i-Cockpit feels as if coming from the future, it doesn’t have the easy-usage pattern we have grown accustomed to when seeing a Sci-Fi movie, where every system seems intuitive and easy to use. The infotainment controls will need an accommodation period, mainly because some of the settings are repetitive or hidden in sub-menus that are hard to pin point from the first try. The 3008 does come loaded with everything a tech fan needs – from 3D connected navigation, Mirror Screen, induction Smartphone recharging (Qi standard) to Android Auto and Apple Carplay, complete with steering wheel activation of voice recognition function through the smartphone (Android S-Voice and Apple Siri). Only the interface seems to be needing some reworks, otherwise the functionalities are complete. On the safety side as well – there’s Active Safety Brake and Distance Alert, Active lane departure warning (with steering correction), attention warning, auto adaptive headlamp main-beam, speed limit sign recognition and recommendation and adaptive cruise control with stop function, among others. What matters less for the driver – which is going to be busy getting the hang of the infotainment system for a while – is the space available for passengers. The 3008 resides on the new EMP2 platform, making it lighter than before – and comes with a trunk capacity of 520 liters – a step up above the previous generation. It also rekindles the latter modularity, with a double floor and easy fold-operation of the 2/3 backrest, which creates a continuous flat surface – including with the ability to fold flat the front right seat to introduce very long cargo. Habitability is nothing to write home about though – the knee space is great, nothing to say, but the sexy exterior design takes its toll on the back passengers if they’re tall and broad. Three adults will find it troublesome to enjoy a long journey in the back, but having kids there won’t be an issue.
Engine, Transmission and Handling
The 3008 can be fitted with engines starting at a lowly 1.2L PureTech – but with PSA being an expert in diesels we know the range is broader when it comes to this type of technology – 1.6 and 2.0 liter engines grow from 100 to 180 hp in the GT. The 3008 GT is exclusively sold with the 180 hp version of the larger engine and in conjunction with a six-speed automatic transmission. Considering this as a family crossover with a powerful engine and stylish demeanor, we’re not going to hold a grudge for not offering AWD even as an option. But be warned – even with its intelligent driving modes that feature “rock crawling” options (sand and mud, actually) – there’s no place for the 3008 GT where a Subaru Forester (it’s an extreme example, I know, with WRC pedigree and Symmetrical AWD tradition) would feel right at home. Even on roads featuring a bit of dust, the electronic aids will have a handful of work to do if you’re in a hurry – 180 hp and 400 Nm will make the front wheels spin out of control in no time. You can exit the beaten path and settle for a camping spot on the grass – if the terrain is not too hard, because you do have 219 mm of ride height (above the 200-mm median of the class) and angles of entry and exit of 20 and 29 degrees, respectively. Or you could play with the sporty setup on winding mountain roads. Just be sure to hit the sport button on the tunnel behind the gearbox lever – you’ll get a brisk response from the throttle, harder settings for the steering wheel and even better sound, although this latter part is courtesy of the sound system, not the engine / exhaust combo. One thing to remember here – besides the fact that you’re not in a video game as the odd shape of the small steering wheel suggests – is the suspension setup isn’t altered in any way when using the sport setting. As such, the 3008 is nimble – thanks to the weight savings of the new architecture – but also decidedly comfort-oriented. So you’ll have trouble navigating the course if you’re in a big hurry – the comfortable ride is letting you have some dynamic fun, just don’t overdo it. Naturally, the assistance systems are there to make sure you survive when crossing the mark – which is a bit closer than you would think if you forget this isn’t an AWD model. Other manufacturers – such as Ford’s Kuga or the Nissan X-Trail/ Renault Koleos duo – have intelligent 4×4 systems that will help you enjoy a dynamic ride, as they first assist with motricity before electronic aids intervention.
I played with the 3008 GT for a while – tempted by the swift response and exact steering – but soon found it superfluous, because the very quiet ride made me feel more comfortable cruising along – and the steering wheel’s dimensions made it awkward sometimes to “play hard”. It’s an interesting concept – have the steering wheel smaller and placed lower for an uninterrupted view of the instrument cluster, but call me a traditionalist, I still love a flat bottomed (not flat/top bottomed) sporty wheel. Speaking of the instrument cluster, this one is certainly among the best seen so far – you have a variety of modes (navi, driving, personalization) and you sometimes need not even look at the dashboard display, which is great for safety as well. With a 2-liter 180 hp diesel engine you might not expect spectacular efficiency, but Peugeot – the only automotive group that offers real-life testing of fuel consumption for some of its models – is a master of the HDI. We’ve known the family for years, and just like Renault for example, they continue to enhance them year after year. The 3008 also has great NVH levels – as in those three elements are almost absent from the cabin. When hitting the sport button you get a more present engine sound – but that’s being electronically enhanced, rather than mechanically. So, cruise comfortably and in almost complete silence when you feel like it, or get the GT traits in sport mode, with better acceleration, better sound and crisper steering feel. Back to fuel economy – you’re nowhere near the 4,8-liter average in real life, but you can come really close if you’re gentle on the throttle in and outside of urban areas. The six-speed automatic feels well prepared to handle the platform/engine mix – and you even have manual settings via the steering wheel paddles. I can’t say it felt quicker in sport mode though – it was just eager to downshift and retained the same gear for longer. All in all, a solid performance from the transmission, which felt smooth and comfortable, and reasonably quick when in sport mode.
Pro: The 3008 feels distinctive and stylish as a crossover, probably a top five contender if the company delivers it across all markets with competitive pricing. The interior is mesmerizing, with large displays and space-age, technologically advanced feel. The engine is great, powerful and actually efficient for its size.
Against: The exterior design might feel obsolete over time, as it’s quite exaggerated. The i-Cockpit, even in its second generation, needs some getting use to before knowing its every secret. Second row passengers will have issues with head and lateral space if they’re above average in height. 2WD architecture shows its limits – both dynamically and outside of paved roads.
Starting Price – Peugeot 3008 1.2L PureTech – 19,158 EUR
Tested Version – Peugeot 3008 GT 2.0 HDI – 32,339 EUR
Engine: 2.0L four cylinder, turbo, direct injection, intercooler, VGT, S/S (1,997 cc)
Power: 181 HP (133 kW) / 3750 rpm
Torque: 400 Nm / 2000 rpm
Transmission: 6 speed automatic, FWD
Dimensions: length – 4447 mm, width – 1841 mm,
height – 1,624 mm, wheelbase – 2675 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 53L
Weight: 1540 kg
Trunk Capacity: 520/ 1482 liters
0 – 100 km/h: 8.9 s
Top Speed: 207 km/h
Fuel consumption: urban – 5,5L/100 km, highway – 4,4L/100 km, average – 4,8L/100 km
Rating: 4.2 / 5