Peugeot’s 3008 will give rivals some cold shivers
Impressive and stylish new SUV undercuts and out-equips VW Tiguan
The Peugeot 3008’s claw-shaped headlights and slashing character lines won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s certainly much more distinctive than the old 3008
The cabin of the Peugeot 3008 is well-made and comes with some seriously whizz-bang digital instruments and an eight-inch touchscreen as standard.
Date Reviewed: February 27, 2017
A year or so ago, the VW Tiguan looked as if it might be a colossus that could not be toppled. In spite of the emissions controversy swirling around the Volkswagen brand, the Tiguan looked classy, drove well, was spacious and generally pretty impressive, if pricey. Surely it would put hot cakes in the shade (where presumably they would become somewhat cooler) when it came to sales.
The first leg of that theory was knocked clean out when Seat launched the impressive Ateca, which uses all of the Tiguan’s oily bits, but clocks in at around €3,000 cheaper. The second leg is currently having a sledgehammer taken to it by this, the new Peugeot 3008.
The old 3008 was a pleasant enough vehicle. It was nice to drive, had a roomy interior and was built to a reasonable standard. It was butt-ugly on the outside, but people still seemed to buy it and it was priced reasonably well. A middle-ranking car if ever there was one.
This new model? This is a bit different. For a start, it’s vastly more stylish. Not everyone is going to love the design, with its aggressive claw-shaped headlights and slashing character lines, but it’s certainly much more distinctive than the old 3008, which couldn’t seem to decide if it wanted to be an SUV or an MPV.
It’s the cabin, though, that takes the biggest swing at the mighty Tiguan. Well-made, and coming with some seriously whizz-bang digital instruments and an eight-inch touchscreen as standard, it makes something of a mockery of the VW’s well-made but rather plain cabin. Arguably, the VW still has the more desirable badge, but we drive our cars from the inside out, let’s not forget.
All of this at a base price which undercuts the Tiguan by a significant margin. With a basic Access model, using the impressive 130hp 1.2-litre PureTech engine, costing €25,995, the 3008 undercuts the price of the most affordable Tiguan by a hair more than €3,000. It also undercuts the equivalent Hyundai Tucson, a 1.6-litre petrol version that starts at €26,245.
That’s a big chunk of change for VW to chase, especially when the 3008 comes with those digital dials as standard as well as the eight-inch touchscreen, cruise control, all-round electric windows, semi-auto air conditioning, and three Isofix child seat points (two in the back, one in the front).
It also has a much more interesting interior than the Tiguan. Initially, because of the way the dashboard wraps around you, it feels a little tighter, a little smaller, but actually space is pretty good and there’s sufficient legroom in the back for one six-footer to get comfortable behind another.
With the back seats up, there’s a decent 512-litre boot, but you can make that a little bigger by deleting the space-saver spare wheel. Of course if you need even more space, and seven seats, then you can trade up to the new 5008, which will be around €2,000 more expensive than an equivalent 3008 when it launches in July.
Although there were one or two less-than-perfect panel joins, and the seats are a touch narrow compared to those of a Tiguan, the cabin, with those very cool digital instruments and its trendy grey tweed fabric inserts, certainly looks more exciting and feels every bit as good to touch as the plain interior of the Volkswagen.
Our test car was a 1.6-litre BlueHDI diesel with 120hp and 300Nm of torque, driving the front wheels (there’s no four-wheel drive option but you can have Peugeot’s clever Grip Control system, which is at least a partial replacement) through a six-speed manual gearbox. That tiny steering wheel doesn’t lead to brilliant steering feel. In fact the steering is a touch woolly, and at low speeds the ride quality is a little over-firm.
The 3008 really starts to come alive as you up the speeds, though, when the steering starts to settle down. It’s never bursting with feel, and the self-centring always feels slightly odd, but the nose of the 3008 responds quickly and cleanly, and there’s never a shortage of grip, even on the slippery, rain-slicked roads of Monaghan where we were taking our test drive. At cruising speeds, the chassis also improves, keeping a tight leash on the body’s roll and sway, and ironing out lumps and bumps with far better control than it manages at low speeds.
It is both enjoyable and engaging, but it’s also refined. Tyre and wind noise are fractionally better suppressed than they are in either the VW or the Seat Ateca, and while the engine is a little clattery at first, some heat and velocity smooths everything out impressively. It is tradition in any post-1991 road test of any new Peugeot to say that “it’s no 205 GTI . . .” and indeed the 3008 isn’t, nor ever could be, but it’s bloody impressive all the same.
Rivals should be worried
Will enough Irish buyers be enticed by the styling, the cabin and Peugeot’s claims of improved quality? We won’t know for a while yet – the factory in France is running flat out to meet European demand for the 3008, and Ireland is scrambling to try to lay claim to some of the production of the two extra shifts recently announced to try and speed up the line. For the first three or four months, the 3008 is already sold out in Ireland, and dealers are already warning some customers that their car will likely have a 172 number plate. That’s an enviable position in which Peugeot in Ireland finds itself, and senior staff are simultaneously enjoying having an in-demand car, while worrying how to keep customers happy and on the hook till production catches up.
When it does catch up, then we’ll get a fuller picture of just how seriously Peugeot can challenge a market currently sewn up by Hyundai, Nissan and VW, with serious other competition from Ford, Skoda, Seat, and Toyota. On the face of it, the sharp-looking, sharp driving 3008 has the claws with which to dig deep into those rivals.
The lowdown: Peugeot 3008 1.6 BlueHDI 120hp Allure.
Price: €31,555 as tested (range starts at €25,995)
Top speed: 180kmh.
Claimed economy 68.9mpg (4.1L/100km).
CO2 emissions: 108g/km.
Motor tax: €190 per annum.
Verdict: Sharp looking, good value and engaging to drive. Can the 3008 break the stranglehold of Irish SUV sales?
Our rating: 4/5