Peugeot 3008 SUV (2016 - ) review
In terms of its practicality, its equipment and the way it drives, the Peugeot 3008 certainly has what it takes to be a real contender in the fiercely competitive compact SUV market.
Interested in buying Peugeot 3008?
The latest Peugeot 3008 is a far more handsome car than the awkwardly proportioned effort it replaces, with more conventional SUV lines and smarter details. However, the looks will be something of a red herring to some, because while there’s no shortage of SUVs that are offered with front-wheel drive as well as four-wheel drive, the 3008 will only ever be available as a front-driver. A system called Grip Control – essentially a very sophisticated traction control system that maximises traction in difficult conditions – is available as an option across the range, but even so, you won’t be venturing too far into the wilderness. The precise look of your car will depend on what version you go for: entry-level Active models have alloy wheels and chrome foglamp surrounds, while Allure trim adds scuff plates and a couple of additional exterior trims. GT Line grade gives you full LED headlamps with scrolling indicators, while GT has more metallic finishes and a panoramic roof.
Happily, the 3008’s interior serves up just as much wow-factor as the bodywork. The cabin’s contemporary design and sophisticated materials make it feel like a properly plush place to sit, and the huge digital dials – which come as standard on all models – give a very high-tech feel. Like in other Peugeot models, you peer at those dials over the top of the tiny steering wheel rather than through it. But, because the dials are set higher than in other Peugeots, meaning you don’t have to set the wheel so ridiculously low, the driving position doesn’t feel anywhere near as awkward. The toggle switches in the middle of the dashboard that act as shortcuts for the touchscreen infotainment system also help improve ergonomics, but things are still far from perfect on that score. The system is slow to react, the interface is confusing, and the screen is nowhere near sensitive enough, so you’ll find yourself jabbing a finger at an on-screen icon several times before your instruction is registered.
SUVs – even smaller ones – are primarily used as family cars, so it’s extremely good news that the 3008 is very strong on practicality. The rear seats have lots of head- and leg-room, allowing two tall adults to stretch out their long limbs. Life is even pretty comfortable for a third occupant in the back, thanks to a wide middle seat, decent shoulder room and a flat floor in the rear footwell. The boot is large and conveniently shaped, too, and thanks to an adjustable boot floor and rear seats that fold down in a clever way, you’re left with a completely flat load space when you use the car in two-seat mode.
Ride and handling
The 3008 is neither the smoothest car of its type, nor the sharpest, but it provides a good blend of both abilities. The suspension has enough compliance to shield you from the effects of most badly surfaced roads, while there’s enough control to stop the body leaning over too much in bends. Importantly, these factors make the car the ideal tool for ferrying the family around. Grip and traction are also in plentiful supply, despite the fact that only the front wheels are powered. The steering, however, is less impressive. It feels utterly disconnected from the rest of the car, and it’s also a shade slow. Combine that with the tiny octagonal steering wheel, and it feels like you’re turning the car by whirling a fifty pence piece around and around.
The 3008 is available with several engine choices, and so far, we’ve tried four of them. Interestingly, it’s the more modest choices that really stand out. The entry-level petrol engine, a turbocharged three-cylinder 1.2 with 129bhp, has a surprising amount of punch from the middle of the rev range, and it keeps on pulling right to the top, so it’s capable of a very decent turn of pace. It’s flexible enough at the bottom of the rev range to keep life reasonably easy, too, but you will notice the engine struggle a lot more when you’re loaded up to the gunwales or facing a steep incline. It only becomes rowdy when you really work it, and because it usually operates in a smooth and quiet way, the engine contributes to a generally impressive level of rolling refinement. The same goes for the 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel, which also does a good line in easy, flexible performance. The six-speed manual gearbox isn’t the smoothest one you’ll ever use, but it hardly ruins the experience. However, while both these engines represent good options for buyers, we can’t say the same of the most powerful units on offer: a turbocharged 1.6 petrol with 163bhp, and a 2.0-litre diesel with 178bhp. Both feel a lot more sluggish than their generous output would suggest, not least because they’re mated to a rather dim-witted six-speed automatic gearbox that strangles their performance. They’re much more expensive than their lower-powered counterparts, and in the real world, they don’t feel a heck of a lot faster.
Peugeot is attempting to move its product range upmarket, and that’s certainly reflected in the 3008’s list prices. It’s significantly more expensive to buy than key rivals like the Nissan Qashqai and Toyota C-HR, and the gap to more affordable offerings like the Seat Ateca is even greater. The car’s resale values will play a big part in the amount you pay to run the car long-term, and while we can’t be entirely sure exactly how good those will be just yet, Peugeot’s performance in this area hasn’t traditionally been the strongest. Broadly speaking, the car’s other running costs are competitive but not particularly mind-blowing, either.
The previous 3008 has a fair-to-middling score in Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index study, but since the latest car bears very little resemblance – visually or mechanically – to the previous one, you can’t read too much into that. More relevant is Peugeot’s placing in the study’s manufacturer standings, and again, it’s a very solid mid-table performance.
The amount of safety kit you get as standard will depend on which trim level you go for, but importantly, even the most basic car has measures that include autonomous emergency braking, speed limit recognition and lane departure warning, on top of the airbags and stability control that you expect as a given. Allure cars add blind spot detection, lane-keeping assist, driver attention assist and automatic high-beam assistance, while GT models also add adaptive cruise control. The generous basic safety offering, plus a strong showing in crash tests, has earned the 3008 the full five-star rating from Euro NCAP.
You might baulk at the 3008’s lofty price, but you do get a very generous level of equipment provided as standard throughout the range. Even entry-level Active-grade cars come with alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, climate control, rear parking sensors, a leather steering wheel, and a DAB radio with Mirrorlink and Apple CarPlay. Allure cars add sat-nav and a 180-degree parking camera, while GT Line cars add part-faux-leather upholstery, wireless phone charging and full LED headlamps. GT cars offer adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, a foot-operated powered tailgate and massaging leather seats.
The Peugeot 3008 is a very tempting option for anyone looking to buy a compact SUV, thanks to its style, practicality, quality and polished driving manners. The thing is, those attributes are fairly commonplace in the overcrowded SUV marketplace, so there are any number of alternatives that do a similar job, and in many cases, for a lower price. Still, a very impressive car that’ll be very appealing to buyers.