The new Peugeot 3008 is a different kind of car from the one that took its maker into the crossover niche eight years ago.
Having been designed before the stylistic norms of the growing market segment had set hard and fast, the original 3008 was very much a hatchback with a sprinkling of SUV about it. Some thought it weird, others a bit ugly – but we always quite liked it.
The new 3008, by contrast, can be recognised as a downsized SUV rather than a crossover hatchback.
Peugeot has evidently weighed the potential sales growth it might enjoy by pitching the car directly at the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan and Mazda CX-5 against the risk of alienating that portion of the 3008’s original customer base who might have preferred a more discreet design – and found in favour of the former.
Quite understandably, too, with the sub-£30,000 SUV segment expanding at its current rate.
But beyond the question of how well it succeeds what was a clever and likeable predecessor, the new 3008 is being set up by its maker to lead the redefinition of the brand’s design identity and accelerate the process of Peugeot’s gradual upmarket relocation, which began with the 308 in 2013.
It’s intended to be elegant and desirable as well as versatile, and while it’s larger than the car that went before it, it’s also lighter.
While the outgoing diesel-electric Hybrid4 model isn’t going to be directly replaced (a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid is planned for 2019), the new 3008 is being launched with a modern mix of three and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines and with a choice of manual and torque converter automatic gearboxes.
Off-road appeal will be limited by the absence of a four-wheel-drive model, at least for now, but is redressed by an increase in ground clearance, dual-purpose tyres for those who want them and new traction control system.
On the face of it, the new 3008 has an air of style and technological sophistication about it. Could it be the fully realised evidence of PSA Group boss Carlos Tavares’ new, more ambitious Peugeot? Let’s find out.