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

Launch Story

22 Jul 2010

THE Peugeot 3008 tries to be many things, but does not really succeed at any of them.

With its front-wheel-drive-only powertrain it isn’t a true SUV as it lacks the any offroad ability of all-wheel drive.

Its cabin has the forward driving position of an MPV but lacks the space and seven-seat functionality of dedicated people-movers.

If anything, the 3008 is a hatchback with a difference. In true French vehicle style it’s quirky and unique, and it will only appeal to a small segment that finds these traits attractive.

A stylish little hatch, the 3008 has the high-riding upright seating position of an SUV or MPV. The long sloping windscreen runs back from a toothy grille and short bonnet to a forward cabin that allows maximum passenger space of the chassis.

Inside, Peugeot has tried to create sporty, cockpit-like driver’s space by fitting a high centre console that cocoons the driver against the door. The switch gear is also cockpit-like and, in a very non-French way, is relatively simple to adapt to.

The toggle-style switches above the multi-function display operate the heads-up display, central locking, distance indicator and hazard lights, while under the display are audio and air controls.

Back along the console, the chrome-capped gear shifter is surrounded in aluminium-look trim, and behind it is the switch for the electronic park brake and a pair of cup-holders. The parking brake is fully automatic, applying itself when you switch the vehicle off and releasing itself as you apply the accelerator.

The 3008 has Grip Control, which adapts the traction and stability control systems to optimise traction on differing road surfaces such as gravel or snow. The dial for this function is in one of the cup holders but neither of the vehicles on the Redex Tribute was equipped with this feature.

The cabin of the XTE is luxurious, with heated and power adjustable leather seats ($2500 extra), leather trimmed steering wheel and dual-zone air-conditioning. The driver’s footwell is a little crowded for larger drivers where the left leg rests against the large centre console.

On a daytime, north-bound highway drive such as this, the large sweptback windscreen radiates a lot of heat from the sun in to the cabin. This had the climate control constantly fluctuating to maintain temperature, but sunshine is ever present. Opening the massive panorama sunroof only makes it worse on such overly sunny days.

Taller passengers will feel the pinch in the back seat. At 185cm tall, my head rubbed the sloping roofline, but there is plenty of legroom for two smaller passengers. Three adults in the back seat would be a squeeze in this compact vehicle.

The drive vehicles were fitted with $1200 optional a rear entertainment unit with covered screens in the back of the front headrests for viewing DVDs or games. The system does not include a DVD player.

The cargo area belies the compact size of the vehicle and has enough space for a family’s weekend luggage. The load floor is height adjustable to accommodate differing cargo and the back seats can be folded flat from the rear using a switch located in the luggage area.

A horizontally split tailgates makes for easy loading, and the lower section doubles as a convenient seat when open.

The 1.6HDi engine quickly settles in to a quiet diesel rattle on start up but it’s never an intrusive noise. The gear selector for the EGC automated manual gearbox is just like that of an auto transmission with a tip-shift function but it doesn’t have a ‘Park’ position. It needs to be in neutral for start up then you select reverse, auto or first gear to drive away.

The EGC (Electronic Gearbox Control) tries to offer the best of both an auto and manual transmission but most people who choose it will want to use it like an automatic for general use. It’s here that it fails as each gear shift is accompanied by an automatic backing off of the throttle that pushes passengers forward and back as the vehicle slows and picks up the next ratio

There is a happy throttle medium where the changes are almost right but it is rarely found. The shift is never precise whether you are light on the throttle or under hard acceleration.

The gear shifts are a bit better when selected manually using the steering column-mounted paddles or the gear shifter, and you learn to back off lightly as you change just as you would when driving a conventional manual gearbox, but it’s never quite right.

Unfortunately the EGC transmission is the only one offered with the 1.6HDi engine now, but a six-speed manual gearbox is expected to be available from October. The 1.6 turbo-petrol and 2.0HDi engines come with a better conventional six-speed automatic transmission.

Although we were only able to drive the 1.6HDi and ECG combination 3008 on this drive, the more powerful 2.0HDi (120kW/340Nm) with the auto would be a better option for buyers wanting diesel efficiency.

Not only is the EGC frustrating in its operation but also the 1.6 engine is left lacking in highway performance.

The engine’s modest 80kW at 4000rom and 240Nm at 1750rpm are fine around town where the torque gets you up to speed adequately, but it quickly runs out of power. Out on the open road, this means picking opportunities to overtake carefully and holding your foot flat on the floor to screw the most out of the little Pug.

The 1.6 engine’s forte is its diesel sipping fuel consumption. The quoted highway consumption figures give 4.3L/100km when on 17-inch wheels and 4.5L/100km on 18s as the XTEs are. Our drive had the vehicle averaging around 5.5L/100km while our light-footed associates got closer to 4.5L/100 in the other 3008.

Combined cycle figures are 5.1L/100km on 18-inch wheels or 4.9 on 17s.

The 3008’s ride quality gave nothing to complain about on some pretty average highway and a few back roads. The handling is a nice compromise that isn’t sporty but it doesn’t feel like a people-mover either.

The distance alert function uses radar at the front of the vehicle to monitor the distance to the vehicle in ahead. The driver sets this as a measure of time and when you get so close as to be under this time, the system gives you a visual warning in the heads-up display. Distance control is not linked to the vehicle’s cruise control it is just a warning system.

Both distance control and heads-up display are standard on the XTE and can be switched off if desired. The heads-up display projects on to a small pop up screen in between the steering wheel and the windscreen giving the driver readings of road speed, cruise control and distance control settings without having to look away from the road.

The 3008 makes for a nice touring vehicle. The cabin is just big enough for a small family and with the optional leather trim and entertainment unit, feels a lot more expensive than it is. Buyers looking for a hatchback or small wagon would be drawn to the 3008 more so than SUV buyers.

The 1.6HDi engine and EGC transmission are less than ideal but that shouldn’t put you off as the 2.0HDi and petrol engines definitely warrant a test drive. The 1.6HDi should be a better drive with the manual gearbox or you could wait until 2011 when the 3008 will debut Peugeot’s Hybrid4 hybrid diesel/electric, all-wheel-drive powertrain.

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