Peugeot 3008: The family SUV puts on haute couture
ONE look at the car on this page, Peugeot's swish and very ooh-la-la new 3008, is further proof that family transport has moved on immeasurably from the days when parents loaded their children into the back of something like a Ford Escort or Austin Maestro, writes William Scholes.
It is the second time Peugeot has named a car 3008. The first 3008 was a roomy and practical enough sort of five-seat MPV on the inside, but on the outside it bore all the hallmarks of a car designed by a committee which never met.
It proclaimed that you had absolutely no interest in cars, and didn't care who knew about it. In fact, it is difficult to think of a less desirable car than the old 3008.
That's all forgotten with this new, bang-up-to-date 3008; Quasimodo has gone haute couture for 2017.
As a 'hey, look at me' calling card, the new Peugeot 3008 makes quite a statement, and captures the crossover-meets-SUV zeitgeist perfectly.
Confidently styled and upmarket looking, the 3008 is the embodiment of Peugeot's push towards the premium territory occupied by Volkswagen or even - whisper it - Audi.
The eminent jurors of the European Car of the Year award agreed, naming the 3008 as the winner of the 2017 title.
As with its smaller 2008, Peugeot prefers to call the 3008 an SUV rather than a crossover.
It's a semantic distinction that may be lost on some punters, but with its butch stance, upright grille and chunky solidity, there's no doubt it wears the SUV label unapologetically.
Rivals are numerous and talented - for starters, there's the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan and Seat Ateca.
Cars of this sort, which blend the raised ride height and practical benefits of a traditional SUV with the lower running costs and ease of use traditionally associated with a family hatchback, are exactly what customers want these days.
From barely existing a decade ago, crossovers now account for more than a quarter of all new cars registered in Europe.
That market share is forecast to keep on rising, which explains why Peugeot has cast the new 3008 so decisively in the SUV mould and, in the process, comprehensively shunned whatever the old car was trying to be.
Few other family cars have as much road presence as the 3008. It might not be conventionally handsome in the style of something like a Mazda CX-5 but the 3008 is shot through with interesting detailing - the 3D effect upright grille, the rear lights behind a black panel, eye-catching headlamps and chrome trim combine to help set the Peugeot apart.
All this exterior finery would be for nothing if the 3008's interior didn't live up to the job of transporting families and their clobber.
Anyone who desires a family car with substance as well as a streak of individualism, should have the Peugeot 3008 on their check list
Here, Peugeot has pulled off the rare trick of being able to be both practical - it's roomy inside - and stylish at the same time.
In fact, sat in the front seats, the 3008 has an interior like no other car in its class. It's a welcome change to the straight-edged conservatism of the Volkswagen-inspired dashboards found in most other cars.
The dashboard wraps around the driver and front passenger - quite unlike what family crossovers and SUVs normally do - and there is an interesting mix of materials with, for example, fabric inserts on the fascia.
The steering wheel is one of Peugeot's small go-kart-sized affairs, as also applied to the 208, 308 and 2008.
This, it has to be said, takes a little getting used to and can initially be off-putting. The small wheel has the effect of making the steering feel more direct and lively than you might expect, though you can soon tune into it.
The location of the wheel rim doesn't seem to obscure the dashboard instruments to the same extent as it can in the smaller Peugeot models.
This is a doubly good thing, as the 3008 gets a very high-tech full colour digital dashboard display, of the sort you would normally find in an Audi.
As well as being clear and easy to read, you can change the layout of the dials, change the information being relayed to you and even fill the display with the sat-nav map and instructions. It's more useful and effective than it might sound, and one imagines that all cars will - eventually - have dashboards like this.
The 3008 pairs this driver-centric display with a centrally-mounted 8-inch touchscreen, from where the heating, radio, sat-nav and other functions can be controlled.
Whereas other Peugeot models perhaps over-rely on the touchscreen to control everything, the 3008 also sensibly features some physical, piano key-style buttons to help work some key features.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on board to help you make the most of your smartphone of choice.
There's lots of interior storage space, including big door pockets and a deep compartment between the front seats, and the requisite USB charging socket and even, on some models, wireless phone charging.
The new 3008 measures 8cm longer than the old car, with almost all of that growth spurt found in the wheelbase.
It is difficult to think of a less desirable car than the old Peugeot 3008. But that's all forgotten with this new, bang-up-to-date model; Quasimodo has gone haute couture
This is good news for passengers, especially in the back, where Peugeot says occupants now enjoy 24mm more leg room and 36mm more headroom. The floor is flat and uninterrupted by a transmission tunnel.
Bearing in mind the family-lugging duties for which the 3008 is destined, its big boot is a further bonus.
The tailgate opens wide to reveal a low loading lip and a boot with a volume of 591 litres - way bigger than the Qashqai's 430 litres and Ateca's 510 litres.
Drop the back seats - they split 60/40 - and the boot swells to 1,670 litres. The seats can be folded from levers at the tailgate.
The boot floor is adjustable and can be moved up and down, meaning you can create a space beneath the floor.
An interesting option is a sliding boot floor, which allows it to be extended over the back bumper; it's able to hold 100kg and makes a handy seat or a help with getting heavier cargo in and out.
The front passenger seat can also be folded flat to assist with carrying longer loads.
If the 3008 ticks the box marked 'stylish practicality', it also comes loaded with the latest safety gear.
The Peugeot has been awarded the full five-star Euro Ncap crash test score and comes with six airbags and automatic emergency braking. Blind spot detection, lane keep assist, driver attention alert and adaptive cruise control can also be specified.
As is the way of things these days, the new 3008 is, model-for-model, around 100kg lighter than the car it replaces.
It's this sort of weight loss that aids fuel economy; and while the 3008 doesn't particularly raise the bar for handling or driving fun in this class, it is a calm and composed companion, which is probably what matters most to would-be buyers.
The 3008 is a well equipped car, with trim levels running from Active and Allure to GT Line and GT.
Standard kit includes the excellent digital dashboard and touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors and alloy wheels.
GT Line, with its LED headlamps, wireless phone charging, 3D sat-nav, extensive safety kit and 18-inch alloys, looks like it's the trim-level sweet spot.
Despite appearances, the 3008 is resolutely front-wheel-drive only. Instead of relying on four-wheel-drive, Peugeot has fitted its fancy 'grip control' traction control system which, in tandem with mud and snow tyres, allows the 3008 to find grip where an ordinary two-wheel-drive car would have given up.
Engines and gearboxes, in various combinations, include two petrols - a 1.2-litre three-cylinder with 129bhp and 170lb.ft, and a 1.6-litre with 163bhp - and a suite of diesels: 1.6-litre units with either 99bhp or 118bhp and 2.0-litre engines with either 148bhp or 178bhp. A petrol-electric hybrid is due to arrive later.
An automatic gearbox is standard on the most powerful petrol and diesel engines and an option on the 118bhp diesel and 1.2-litre petrol.
The cheapest 3008 is a 1.2-litre Active, at £21,995, while the dearest is the £33,155 2.0-litre GT; a 1.6-litre 118bhp diesel in GT Line trim - which looks to be the best blend of engine and trim - is £27,485.
Those prices are more or less par for the course in this class and reflect Peugeot's determination to shift its cars upmarket.
The 3008 is an effective showcase for this premium push: it looks great, has a very French sense of style, is practical and spacious, built of quality materials used with verve and imagination, and distinguished by a very smart interior.
It's far more interesting than something like a Seat Ateca, too. 'Interesting' isn't for everyone, of course, but those who desire a family car with substance as well as a streak of individualism, should have the Peugeot 3008 on their check list.