Practical, decent to drive and featuring a standout cabin, Peugeot's new crossover is an impressive addition to the class

What is it?

If we’re talking about mechanical bits and not about trim level, this is the entry point into the new Peugeot 3008 range. Although the 1.2-litre three-cylinder Puretech engine can be found under the bonnet of all manner of PSA Group products, the rest of the car is a significant departure from the outgoing 3008.

In case you’ve been stuck in a cave on the side of a mountain for the past 10 years, SUVs are very much ‘in’ at the moment. That was something of a problem for the old 3008; it may have had some skidplate-effect bumpers and an elevated driving position, but it looked more MPV than mud-plugger. Not cool.

So to funk things up a bit, Peugeot has turned the 3008 into yet another 4x4-inspired family wagon. The important word here is 'inspired'; unlike most rivals, there’s no all-wheel-drive 3008, just some extra-clever traction control, along with mud and snow tyres.

To round things off, weight is down, the dimensions have been tweaked to make it appear less dumpy and there’s lots of tech to boot. That includes a fully digital dashboard as standard, along with an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system. So, the 3008 impressed us abroad, but what’s it like in the UK?

What's it like?

Pug 3008 web2016 0065

Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that although we’ve been trundling around the roads of West Sussex all weekend, the 3008 we’ve been driving has its steering wheel on the left side of the cabin. While you’d hope that this shouldn’t affect road manners, we need to wait for a right-hand-drive car before we can give our definitive verdict.

Caveat over, we can move on to what the 3008 is actually like. You might think that a diddy 1.2-litre lump has no place in a five-seat family wagon, but the 129bhp motor is more than up to the task. It’s not quick, but there’s enough torque to get up to speed without thrashing it.

Four up, you do feel the additional weight, but performance is still adequate. Ultimately, you'd be well advised to think seriously about one of the diesels if you’re going to be lugging loads on a regular basis.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard with this engine, coming with well-judged ratios that are tall enough to allow relaxed cruising. It’s a shame the gearbox has long throws and a slightly vague action, but it’s no deal-breaker. Should you need (or want) it, a six-speed automatic ‘box is also available.

As with most other Peugeots currently on sale, the steering wheel is tiny and not quite round. This acts on a quick-acting rack, a combination that can take some getting used to. After a few miles, you get used to making small inputs and it actually works rather well. There’s not much feedback, but the steering is precise, nicely weighted (as long as you keep out of Sport mode) and makes low-speed manoeuvring a doddle. Pug 3008 web2016 0072

As for the handling, body roll is well contained, helping the 3008 to turn in to corners smartly. Push on and you’ll find no nasty vices, with the front tyres always losing grip first and no danger of any surprise oversteer. There’s no point looking for it, either; you can turn off the traction control,but it switches itself back on above 30mph.

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All in all, you can cover ground briskly, but a Seat Ateca is more fun to drive briskly. The Spaniard also has better damping; the 3008 may float over crests and compressions in a delightfully old-school French way, but broken surfaces and other sharp-edged obstacles result in some jiggling.

For us, though, the real standout feature of the 3008 is the interior. All models receive the latest version of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit, a 12.3in configurable digital display that replaces all instruments in front of the driver. The graphics are impressively sharp and it displays information in a clear, attractive manner. It may not be able to show quite as much data as an Audi Virtual Cockpit, but then it is free in the Pug.

Pug 3008 web2016 0074

The i-Cockpit is joined by an 8.0in touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard – again a standard feature. While base Active models don't get sat-nav, they do get Mirrorlink and CarPlay connectivity, so you can use your smartphone to get directions on the move. Standard rear parking sensors, automatic emergency braking and dual-zone climate control underline the generous standard spec.

It isn’t just a big dollop of kit that makes a winning interior; Peugeot has created an ambience that’s a breath of fresh air when compared with the sombre efforts of most rivals. Not only does it look good, but there’s also plenty of soft-touch plastic, while scratchier stuff is well hidden.

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Move to the rear seats and while the 3008 isn't as roomy as some rivals, you’ll get a couple of adults in without too much grumbling. The load bay is big and it’s simple to fold the rear seatbacks down. For especially long loads, all but Active models get a handy fold-flat front passenger seat, too.

Should I buy one?

The more time we spend with the 3008, the more we like it. The 1.2 Puretech engine is punchy enough for most scenarios, is capable of more than 40mpg without too much effort and is also the cheapest way into the range.

Considering the high level of standard equipment, practical yet stylish interior and decent driving dynamics, we think Peugeot has pushed the 3008 towards the pointy end of its class. Is it enough to take overall victory? We look forward to finding out.

Peugeot 3008 1.2 Puretech 130

Location West Sussex; On sale Now; Price £24,000 (est); Engine 3 cyls, 1199cc, petrol, turbo; Power 129bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 170Ib ft at 1750rpm ; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1250kg; Top speed 117mph; 0-62mph 10.8sec; Economy 52.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 124g/km, 21%; Rivals Seat Ateca 1.4 TSINissan Qashqai 1.2 DIG-T


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