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Car reviews - Peugeot - 3008 - XTE 2.0 HDi 5-dr wagon

Our Opinion

We like
Smooth, torquey engine sublime six-speed transmission supple ride classy, versatile cabin
Room for improvement
Needs a spare wheel for rural use difficult to see out of the back

22 Jul 2010

MOST car manufacturers have something on which to rest their laurels a philosophy that makes their products in some way unique and gives an opportunity for the marketing department to push their product in a homogenised world. Peugeot’s strengths used to be rugged simplicity with a dash of practical technology, superlative ride quality and comfortable, lush seats.

No wonder the marque did so well in harsh environments like Africa and in outback Australia the likes of the 403, 404 and 504 were built to last the distance and not rattle your bones getting there – the same couldn’t be said about many competitors.

Fast forward some 30 years, and Peugeot can’t be said to be the purveyor of simple tough cars. It has, like compatriots Citroen and Renault, made French style and the introduction of technology to the mass market its points of difference – and in Peugeot’s case, a particularly well-regarded expertise in diesel engines. When a car company goes shopping for a diesel, they go knocking at Peugeot’s door first.

So the Peugeot 3008 arrives with the tall-bodied appeal of an SUV or of a people mover but isn’t really either – it lacks seating capacity to be a true people mover and it lacks all-wheel drive to be a compact SUV. It somehow nestles in the cleavage in between those two segments.

In the metal, the 3008 has a toothy grille and the guards, with their rounded shapes intersected by sharp crease lines, look a bit like those on a Kia Rondo, which is hardly a flattering comparison. The silhouette is quite easy on the eye but details like the aforementioned grille and crease lines do the 3008 no favours.

In gets better inside – a lot better. Slide across into the driver’s seat and you’re presented with furnishings that not only look good but also impart a sense of quality. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Peugeot had resorted to the nastiest cheapest plastics they could find to furnish the likes of its 206 and 406, but times have certainly changed. With close-fitting plastics of a suitable grain and texture interspersed with touches or chrome, it is an elegant affair.

The doors themselves open wide and present a tall, unimpeded aperture and from the driver’s seat there is ample vision forward and to the sides – although more than once when at a junction we had to peek around the left-hand A-pillar to check for traffic. For those who still prefer to look back when reversing (so passé, in these days of rear-view cameras) the thick D-pillars and small rear window hardly make it worth the effort.

The instruments are well presented and easy to see, and the head-up display is a welcome bonus.

You’ll either love or hate the high centre tunnel – while it puts the gear shift and electric park brake within easy reach, it also conceals a deep – really deep – centre compartment cubby. In fact it’s more a pantry than cubby hole – and it’s good to conceal a handbag or bulky items, it is also easy to lose smaller stuff in there. Sure there’s a clip-in tray for coins and so on, but if you have a big bunch of keys or similar that you’d like to hide you’ll be fishing around to get them out again.

The rest of the front cabin is well-featured with deep door pockets, centre tunnel cupholders and firm front seats with great side support.

The rear seat is a little flat but this serves parents well as child- or booster-seats are more easily accommodated. There is plenty of headroom and legroom, and the rear floor is almost completely flat, meaning equal space for the centre occupant. There are also storage bins underfoot.

The load area is easy to access via the horizontal split tailgate, and is a relatively deep, wide and long space. The fact that the XTE’s load space does not accommodate a spare wheel and only an inflation kit explains its spaciousness. The split-level shelving is a clever idea as it allows you to separate loads.

The 2.0-litre HDi engine is a smooth operator with plenty of pick-up and barely a hint of turbo lag. The artifice of electronic throttle control becomes obvious when tootling around town as the engine response seems delayed when using small, deliberate throttle openings. However, if you use the go-pedal assertively then it steams along.

We averaged 9.2L/100km in mostly urban running, which is not bad for such use. Some open road driving saw the figure drop quickly to sub-7.0-litres per 100km.

The six-speed automatic transmission is one of the lushest in the business. It never appeared to falter, just sliding though the gears without ever resorting to a sharp shift.

The once-famed Peugeot ride quality is still there in spirit in the 3008. While not exactly something that would glide down the Oodnadatta Track, it is surprisingly composed over sharp bumps, even with its low-profile 18-inch tyres, and at higher speeds it is supple. The Michelin tyres provide ample mechanical grip and while the steering is not particularly tactile it rewards the driver with a nice, precise response to input.

The reality of compact SUV ownership for many is the urban practicality of the design, rather than any off-road ability. For the realists who want a practical wagon with a sense of style about it, the 3008 acquits itself well.

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