AFTER years of being fed a diet of industry-wide “evolutionary” car updates – in other words tweaks rather than a real effort to give us something new – Peugeot 3008 owners can be forgiven if their jaws hit the floor when they visit a dealer to replace their car.
So radically different is the new model, just arriving in showrooms, customers could might imagine they had arrived in the wrong dealership. But the lion badge should reassure them, even if the lion is letting out a tremendous roar.
The new 3008, now looking more like an SUV as it replaces the former “crossover”, was the winner of the recent Dakar Rally, one of the world’s hardest-terrain driving events. And it is soon to be joined by a new 5008, bigger and similarly bold in its approach that should give competitor brands an equally vigorous run for their money.
It would be wrong to confuse these cars with genuine off-roaders, of course, despite the Dakar success.
Cars on that event are far different from stock models but they do prove the engineering brilliance of individual makers. Some of the victory shine eventually rubs off on the cars we mere mortals buy.
Where getting off the beaten track is concerned, the 3008 test car would never really have achieved it running on the same road tyres, Michelin Primacy 3s, as our own Ford S-MAX and just about every other test car we have seen in the last few months. These tyres are all about low running costs and good grip, not always a combination seen in economy rubber compounds in the past.
However, specify the optional Grip Control and the car becomes more capable. It’s a system I like, run through clever electronics controlling the driven wheels at the front that avoids having to install the mechanical baggage of a 4×4 system yet still managing to deliver most of a 4×4’s advantages.
It’s often all that most drivers will need for slightly worse than average mud and snow – we have certainly found it effective in the past.
With so much bad press for diesels, it was refreshing to have a petrol-engined test car. Despite its 165bhp and six speed automatic gearbox it was achieving getting on for 40 mpg which is no mean feat for a car of its size.
No doubt that Michelin rubber helped boost the figure but it’s also true that, used properly, an autobox can boost economy thanks to management technology. This can be defeated by drivers who think they can do better so insist on using manual override, an expensive vanity paid for at the pumps by more frequent visits. Sensors all over the place and computers that outpace those of spacecraft from only a few years ago create an electronic team that mere humans cannot outperform.
Far better to sit back, relax, and enjoy the rolling backdrop of the world passing by the window – or above the roof where the car has a glass panel in the ceiling. On the test car, the panel was fringed with blue mood lighting which gave the car an unusual night-time glow.
Adjusting to the car’s sharp accelerator and brakes took a bit of time. It was too easy to get going with a jerk when pulling away from a standstill while stopping power could arrive with an equally alarming jolt.
Far better was the ride comfort. There is a degree of firmness but it doesn’t intrude on the car’s ability to glide over most bumps and surface imperfections. Rear passengers appreciated the space and ride quality but some felt the front headrests left them too enclosed, even with the glass roof to open up the surroundings.
Up front, former Austin Allegro owners might be pleased to see that the square steering wheel has made a comeback, a bit of a triumph for design over substance, it has to be said. Quite why anyone would want to have this throwback is beyond me. It’s not that comfortable to use while the flat top dictates that it has to be set low down to allow a view of the instruments. Tall drivers looking to park their legs may not always appreciate it, especially as the wide centre console prevents the man spreading that becomes an essential part of a comfortable posture.
Load space is good – the rear seat backrests flip to increase the five seat layout’s 512 litres to an impressive 1,604 litres that almost matches a Volvo V70. It turns the 3008 into a versatile family car although accessing it through the powered tailgate that adds £750 to the price may be a luxury too far for some – but not us!
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: Peugeot New 3008 SUV Allure THP 165 EAT6
Does it fit your ego…
0-62mph: 8.9 secs
Top speed: 128mph
Bhp: 165 @ 6000rpm
Torque: 221lb ft @1400rpm
…and your wallet…
CO2 emissions: 129g/km
Best bits: change for the better