Car reviews - Peugeot - 3008 - range
Unique design, high-end interior, quiet cabin, ride quality, handling, cabin tech
Room for improvement
Underpowered petrol engine, firm second row seats, higher entry price compared to rivals
14 Aug 2017
PEUGEOT’S new Australian distributor knows a lot rides on its new 3008 SUV. The all-new model is tasked with relaunching the historic French brand Down Under and with helping lift its sales beyond the middling numbers it has recorded in recent years under a previous importer.
Luckily for Peugeot, the 3008 is entering what is arguably the hottest segment in Australia right now – the sub-$60,000 medium SUV segment – where it will lock horns with big guns like the Mazda CX-5 and its obvious European rival, the Volkswagen Tiguan.
The 3008 is a looker, it has an exceptional cabin and a strong standard features list, but its entry price is about $6000 higher than its rivals and the brand has struggled to move beyond ‘quirky French offering’ in recent years.
Can the 3008 finally turn things around for Peugeot in Australia?
Mid-sized SUVs are hot property in Australia right now. They have become the family car of choice and with just over 113,000 sales so far this year, only trail small passenger cars (129,279) and one-tonne utes (119,067) as Australia’s third-biggest market segment.
So it should be easy to launch an all-new European-sourced model into the mix and expect instant sales success, right? Not necessarily.
The segment is packed with successful models such as the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Nissan X-Trail, Mitsubishi Outlander and Kia Sportage as well as the new VW Tiguan, Renault Koleos, Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, but Peugeot, under a new distribution agreement with Inchcape Australasia, faces more challenges than most.
The all-new 3008 marks the first time Peugeot has had an entrant in the mid-size SUV segment since the demise of the slow selling 4007 – that was based on the previous-generation Mitsubishi Outlander – in early 2013.
There is not a great deal of brand awareness when it comes to Peugeot and SUVs, meaning it is unlikely to be on as many shopping lists as any one of the aforementioned competitors.
But Peugeot’s market analysis suggests that Aussie buyers are already on board the SUV train and they like a more premium offering, and the 3008 ticks both of those boxes.
Part of the company’s strategy of moving further upmarket means it no longer offers a base variant (dubbed Access) of any of its models in Australia, including the 3008.
The new SUV starts from $36,990 plus on-road costs for the entry-grade Active, which is well above the base pricing of all of its rivals.
Peugeot says the Active lines up in terms of price and spec with the VW Tiguan 110TSI Comfortline 2WD auto, which is the mid-range variant in the Tiguan range.
For a brand trying to get attention in a crowded segment, it is in an interesting strategy. Will consumers reject the 3008 based on its higher price of entry or will the high-spec, high-price plan pay off?Only time will tell whether it will work so until then, let’s have a look at what Peugeot is offering.
Beyond the $36,990 Active, the 3008 is offered in Allure and GT-Line guise – all with the same turbo-petrol engine – before the range tops out with the GT at $49,490, the sole diesel option.
In the metal, the 3008 is a handsome car, and with its sharply styled front end and modern, hi-tech lion’s claw tail-lights, it’s easily one of the most distinctive looking offerings in the segment.
Style-conscious buyers wanting something a little different need look no further.
Thankfully, the eye-catching design theme continues inside.
No matter where you look in the cabin, the 3008 is unlike any other mid-size SUV – mainstream or premium.
The materials used for the dash and door panels vary from grade to grade but include a grey cloth that might be seen on a very expensive sofa and it looks brilliant. Peugeot says high-end wood panels will be offered soon and from the images we have seen, they also look the goods.
The tiered dash layout works well and the swathes of chrome somehow don’t look overly blingy, something many other brands still struggle with.
Even the glovebox is beautifully damped, adding yet another premium touch.
Sitting just under the central air vents are neat looking switches that are linked to functions in the 12.3-inch touchscreen and they are reminiscent of Porsche controls but with a distinctly Peugeot flavour.
The centre console houses a protected phone and device charging tray and the unusually designed gear shift lever, just ahead of the massive central storage compartment.
Peugeot has evolved its controversial ‘i-Cockpit’ interior concept for the 3008. It still has the small diameter steering wheel that the driver peers over the top of – rather than through – to see the instrument cluster.
Somehow the seating position and the higher ride height make the version of the i-Cockpit in the 3008 more successful than the smaller 308 hatch and wagon.
Some people will not like Peugeot’s cabin concept, but we think it works well.
The small but chunky and premium-feeling steering wheel helps and the instruments are clear.
At night you might need to turn down the brightness on the touchscreen and the instruments as they are very bright, but the i-Cockpit helps further differentiate the 3008 from its mainstream competitors.
Seats in all variants are supportive and don’t hug the body too much like some premium offerings can.
There is acres of headroom throughout the cabin and further back there is decent legroom in the second row with air vents for rear passengers. Second row seats are on the firm side but also offer adequate support.
Peugeot’s seat trim, in any 3008 grade, offers yet another point of difference to the competition. Appealing cloth trim designs and fabrics and luxurious leather are on offer depending on how much you have to spend on options.
The split-fold rear seats do not slide but there is 590 litres of cargo space, increasing to 1670L with the second row folded.
The 3008 has more cargo space than a number of key rivals when the second row is on place but others beat the French SUV when it is folded. The Mazda CX-5 can swallow 442/1342L, the Renault Koleos 458/1690L, the Ford Escape 406/1603L, while the VW Tiguan can carry 615/1655L.
Peugeot’s 121kW/240Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine powers the Active, Allure and GT Line, and our rather brief stint behind the wheel of the GT Line revealed that the donk was a little underpowered for the 1371kg SUV.
Most buyers will be satisfied with the levels of performance from the petrol-powered 3008, but its 9.9-second 0-100km/h time shows that it is no performance car, despite the GT Line badge. This was made even more clear when it struggled accelerating uphill.
A more powerful 2.0-litre petrol unit would be a welcome addition to the range, but there are no plans for this. There are however plans for a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid all-wheel drive variant that could increase the fun factor.
It’s a pity, because the well-balanced chassis and independent “pseudo” MacPherson strut front and semi-independent rear suspension set-up makes for an entertaining drive experience.
There is little bodyroll to speak of and the 3008 can be pushed hard through bends and tight corners without flinching. It has beautifully sharp steering that is nicely weighted and the six-speed automatic is a smooth shifter.
Peugeot has clearly put a lot of effort into minimising cabin noise. The 3008 has one of the quietest cabins in the segment, adding a level of refinement not found in many of its competitors, although the Tiguan and new-gen CX-5 have also made huge gains in this area.
The 3008 is a two-wheel-drive-only offering – until the expected launch of the AWD PHEV – but it is unfazed by poor road surfaces, absorbing pot holes and corrugations with ease. The ride quality is among the best in the segment.
We only had a very brief drive of the 133kW/400Nm turbo-diesel GT and the cabin insulation is so good that it was virtually impossible to detect an oil-burner under the bonnet.
It is a bit more punchy than the petrol engine but at $49,490 the difference in performance is not great enough to warrant splashing out the extra $6000 over the still-well-specified $43,490 GT Line petrol.
The base Active might not get all of the bling of the higher spec variants but there is a solid standard equipment list – although beware, it does miss out on AEB even as an option.
Peugeot’s new importer faces an uphill battle trying to convince Australians that it is a viable semi-premium alternative, but if anything can do it, the 3008 can.
Its higher entry price compared with its rivals and historical concerns about reliability could keep people away, and that’s a shame.
Far and away one of the most unique propositions in the segment, the 3008 is classy, fun to drive and has one of the most appealing interiors of any mid-size SUV in Australia, and that includes premium manufacturers.
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