Review: Peugeot 3008

With the arrival of the new generation Peugeot 3008 in Ireland last week, the number of SUV crossovers in the C segment climbed to 19, writes Brian Byrne. Not to mention the further six premium vehicles of similar size against which the lion brand is pitching its new car.

This has to make it the most congested and competitive segment of the Irish car market. But this doesn't at all dent the confidence of the folks at Peugeot Ireland, whose only real concern is whether they'll be able to get enough supply to meet the demand over the coming year.

Maybe that's not at all being over confident. The 3008, previously an MPV and now a much more trendy SUV, has been doing very well indeed in other markets where it has been sold since launch last autumn. So much so that production has strained to match demand.

After an extensive run in it in Ireland last week, I’m not surprised myself. Changing the style to SUV because that was the way the market was going may well have been a marketing ploy, but it has been well done.

On that trend, in the Irish context, a tad less than a third of all passenger cars sold in Ireland are SUV style at the moment, and in the C Segment where the new 3008 competes, it is 15pc of the total market, and SUVs there grew by 62pc in 2016. It may be inordinately crowded, but there’s growing space for any newcomer.

French carmakers are leaving their German counterparts way down the field when it comes to style these last few years, and especially in interior finish and comfort. This new 3008 is a classic example of why. There is a certain Gallic chic in the external looks, which offer enough differentiation from the traditionally butch details for an SUV to make it seriously stand out in that pack. There are chromed detail items, like the front ‘protector’, to suggest off-road warrior, but curves in the right places, and a particularly interesting rear design, steer the car away from too much aggression in its overall presentation. Not to say that it might not hack it in more rugged conditions, because it has the ground clearance and the option of electronic ‘Grip Control’ to provide extra traction when required. But in fairness, this is meant to be a family car.

A connected family, because it provides seamless replication of any Apple or Android smartphone through its centre dash touchscreen. This includes the link to Apple’s Siri voice control system if you use it.

A safer family, because there are a bunch of passive and active safety technologies increasingly standard as you move through the grades. The rear-view camera, for instance, can be used in 180deg view and ‘bird’s eye’ format, for better visibility of what’s happening around the vehicle while exiting a nose-in parking space or a driveway.

There’s lots more like that, but I’ll leave it until I’m doing a full review of the car.

The interior style is quite individual, with a tilt towards that in the related DS 5 from the PSA Group’s premium brand. But better, with less complexity and a more friendly interface with the controls. I like the ‘piano’ switches, which are easily finger-memorised. I still have issues with the heating controls being only via the touchscreen, because that still means having to take one’s eyes from the road to use them.

The trim and detail of the interior is exceptionally well toned, as you’d get from a stylist who has a really good handle on texture and colour. The shapes in the dashboard and door styling are also nicely coherent.

The next generation of the Peugeot i-Cockpit features for the first time in the 3008, where the smaller steering wheel and placing of the main instrument cluster above it makes for a very non-distracting way of driving. The new wheel has flat top and bottom now, getting more and more like aircraft control than ever. Caveat, if you are still of old-school ‘ten to two’ in how you use a steering wheel, it’s not as comfortable. Some years ago I attended a BMW driving programme which changed my attitude and style to this, and has made my driving more comfortable and in control.

The 3008 is a 6-seater — the summer-coming 5008 will offer more accommodation — and there’s lots of room both for all occupants and for their luggage. It is a competitive in all those respects for the family long-hal trip.

The cars I drove last week were both powered by the 1.6 120hp diesel, one manual, one with the 6-speed automatic option. Given the fact that there’s less than €2,000 premium for the automatic, and which is only marginally thirstier than the manual, I’d plump for the autobox if I was buying. Indeed, Peugeot Ireland are expecting from the advance interest that a substantial proportion of 3008s will be automatic from the get-go.

A 130hp turbocharged petrol engine will be available later in the year and will in fact be the entry level powertrain. Meantime, there are also 150hp and 180hp diesels on the engines list.

I had good motorway, main road, and twisty back road experience with the car last week, and found it as refined and composed and comfortable as I’d now expect from anything in the PSA Group. I’m looking forward to a proper term with it.

The new generation Peugeot 3008 is now on sale in Ireland at a starting price of €25,995.

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