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First drive: Sub-$35K Peugeot 3008 looms

Acclaimed three-cylinder turbo likely to power new entry-level Peugeot 3008 SUV

6 Aug 2018

A NEW, lower-priced entry-level Peugeot 3008 is likely to launch in Australia by early next year, putting the French-built medium SUV on a more even keel with popular mid-range front-drive rivals such as the Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport, Nissan X-Trail ST and Hyundai Tucson Active X.
Expected to slip below the $35,000 mark for the first time, the brand’s best-selling model would also gain the highly-regarded 96kW/230Nm 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine and six-speed torque-converter automatic combo from the 308 hatch, bringing with it class-leading fuel consumption and emissions ratings. 
The existing 3008 range opener – the 121kW/240Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol Active 2WD – kicks off from $37,490 plus on-road costs. 
The new powertrain – known as the PureTech 130 – is also being considered for the 308 Touring wagon to bring its entry point down significantly from the hefty $37,990 plus on-road costs currently charged for the sole Allure BlueHDi turbo diesel, and closer to the circa-$30,000 commanded by the Volkswagen Golf 110TSI wagon equivalents.
According to Peugeot Citroen Australia product planning manager Justin Narayan, local importer Inchcape Australasia is close to finalising the wider rollout of the three-cylinder turbo-petrol powertrain across the EMP2 platform models that were engineered with the engine in mind.
“Engine capacity is no longer a limiting factor when choosing drivetrains and the PureTech engine family delivers the power and torque expected from a larger drivetrain, while simultaneously delivering fuel savings,” he said.
“It would be remiss of us not to consider it for wider use in Australia across our passenger and SUV model lines.”
Peugeot says the extensive weight-saving materials underpinning the EMP2 architecture allows models such as the 308 and 3008 powered by the three-pot turbo to achieve equal or better power- and torque-to-weight ratio figures than many key rivals, to the benefit of performance and dynamic behaviour.
The CX-5 Maxx Sport 2WD has a larger 114kW/200Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder normally aspirated engine, yet against the UK-spec 3008 Active PureTech 130 auto, the Japanese SUV is some 280kg heavier at 1556kg, and is 0.5 seconds slower to from zero to 100km/h at 11.0s and consumes one litre per 100km more on the European combined cycle at 6.2 litres per 100km.
“While headline power numbers give some brands bragging rights, it’s the relationship between power, torque and vehicle weight that matters and in this area our vehicles are industry leading,” Mr Narayan said.
Confirmation of the 3008 PureTech 130 for Australia is expected before the end of the year, but right now GoAuto managed to cover 1500km across southern England in a model year ‘18.5’ Active, fitted with the 96kW 1.2-litre turbo triple.
Fitted with the six-speed manual gearbox that will not be offered in Australia due to low take up, the powertrain pairing is nevertheless a revelation, and not just because of the short and well-oiled shifter.
Off the line acceleration is surprisingly brisk for a car this big and an engine this small, with enough low-down torque to spin the front wheels if you’re that way inclined, or – more importantly – provide reassuringly seamless forward thrust.
Even with three on board including luggage, the 3008 pulls strongly and smoothly right up to the 6000rpm red line, and does not sound strained doing so. It’s unlikely anybody would pick this engine for a triple, so muted is the thrum normally so characteristic in such a configuration.
That wide torque band (the maximum 230Nm comes in from just 1750rpm) means that gear changes are not as frequent as you might think given the 1199cc capacity, further underlining our feeling that, arguably, this is the best three-cylinder turbo in the world. Our experience with the EAT6 automatic in the 308 suggests similarly strident performance and responsiveness. 
Another bonus is how light the front end feels through the single-lane twisting back roads that define rural driving in the UK, turning into corners with a hatch-like immediacy and accuracy that belies the sheer size of the spacious SUV. 
The helm is crisp and uncorrupted, while even the optional 18-inch wheel and tyre package soak up the undulating bumps and craggy pot holes without sweat or drama. We’ve long maintained the 3008 is the only real driver’s SUV in its class, with the less-is-more can-do attitude of the three-pot turbo just enhancing that point of view.
Everything else is pure 3008 – from the airy cabin with its gorgeous dashboard design and appealing architecture to the sculptured and supportive seating, overall cabin refinement and subdued levels of road noise. There were no fit and finish issues in our test car either.
The overriding thought after a week behind the low-set wheel of the three-pot turbo Peugeot is that this powertrain feels and performs like it was meant for this SUV, retaining all the style, comfort and suppleness of the series, and then enhancing it all with a premium dynamic signature that is unique to a class that – in Australia anyway – is populated at the lower-end with mediocrity. 
As we said, the PureTech 130 only enhances the 3008 experience. Bring it on, we say!

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