What is it?
This is Peugeot’s 308 cross-over, a competitor to the Nissan Qashqai, and front-drive versions of SUVs such as the VW Tiguan and Ford Kuga, though in reality, Peugeot’s belief that this car will conquest buyers from all kinds of cars will probably be realised.
In effect it’s a longer, taller, roomier five-seat hatchback with a split tailgate, useful loadbay modularity and a four-wheel drive’s high seating position.
It’s also a slightly odd looking car. Its protuberant egg-crate grille resembles a child’s tooth-brace, it rides on a track slightly too narrow for its billowed wheelarches and from the rear it appears downright ordinary, but it certainly shouldn’t be dismissed for these mild aesthetic disappointments.
Engine options include a 109bhp 1.6 HDI diesel – expected to be the best-seller – 118bhp and 148bhp 1.6 petrols, and a 148bhp 2.0 HDI diesel, all with six-speed manuals. A conventional auto will be offered on a 161bhp 2.0 HDI, and a Co2-reducing automated-manual on the 1.6 HDI.
The 3008 is front-drive only, but available with a so-called Grip Control system that, rather like Land Rover’s Terrain Response facility, provides traction control software allowing it to get to grips with the friction properties of snow, wet grass and mud, though only if you order it on mud and snow tyres.
More useful to most UK buyers will be a panoramic glass roof, a head-up display that includes estimation of the time gap between you and the car in front (for safety reasons rather than road racing) and an infotainment system.
The most intriguing feature, however, is the dynamic roll control device fitted to the rear suspension of the 150bhp petrol, which pressurises the outboard shock absorber in corners to counter roll and understeer. And in 2011, there will be an all-wheel-drive diesel hybrid, Peugeot’s first.
What’s it like?
The 3008’s exterior might disappoint but its interior certainly doesn’t. This is the best finished, modern Peugeot cabin yet, its robustly crafted fittings fashioned from fine soft-feel materials and metallic trim. Stylish dashboard architecture that includes an expensive-looking padded passenger grab handle, plentiful stowage space and appealing instrument displays all make the 3008 a car you’ll be pleased to climb into.
Its height provides the reassuring command view out, as well as generous room up front and decent space in the rear. The back-bench doesn’t slide, but its backrest can conveniently be flopped flat using levers in the loadbay, where there’s a false floor that can be repositioned on three-levels with ingenious single-handed ease. The split tailgate aids loading and can be sat on, the front passenger seat backrest folds forward for an extended load deck, while a torch and luggage-net are handy conveniences.
Some might want seven-seats, but the 308 SW and the five or seven-seat MPV arriving this autumn will cater to these needs, says Peugeot.
And the 3008 drives well. Supple suspension, strong refinement, clean-swivelling steering and tidy handling all make for a pleasing family bus. The 1.6 HDI’s 192lb ft of torque provides enough mid-range pull to convince, despite 1.6 litres and 110bhp looking inadequate to lug a load-carrier of this heft about. It’s not fast but it’s brisk, and turns in combined economy of 55.3mpg and Co2 emissions of 137g/km – not bad given its size.
Should I buy one?
If you need no more than five seats, crave high seating and need a big boot, then yes. Though Nissan’s Qashqai is more stylish, the 3008 offers more space, more sophistication and more room. The more economical diesel is the better pick money-wise, but if you often drive one-up, then the 150bhp petrol with the roll control system will provide more pleasure. All of which makes it a shame that it doesn’t look as sharp as a Kuga, a Qashqai or even a Tiguan.