Peugeot's 3008 moves from MPV to SUV in response to sales patterns, and our first experience reveals it should enjoy a substantial chunk of said interest

What is it?

It's true that Peugeot's previous 3008 was something of a 'crossover', but it always leant more heavily towards being a five-seat MPV than an outright SUV. However, the tides have changed, with buyers now wanting the reassurance of more ground clearance, chunky styling and better all-weather capability, without compromising on space and practicality.

And so, the 3008 you see before you is quite firmly in the SUV camp this time around, which isn't surprising, given the sales success enjoyed by rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti, as well as the likely success of the Seat Seat Ateca

But while the 3008 now has the increased ground clearance, large arches and wheels that scream SUV, it is, in fact, lower to the ground than before by around 20mm. Still, it is some 80mm longer, allowing for a longer wheelbase and more rear leg room, while despite losing some height, this new 3008 has also been packaged to offer more head room. On average, it's 100kg lighter than before, too. 

The majority of 3008 buyers will buy diesel, of which there are four choices: a 1.6 in 99bhp and 118bhp outputs, and a 2.0 with 148bhp or 178bhp. Here, though, we're driving a petrol version - not the entry-level 129bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder Puretech but the second petrol choice: a 163bhp 1.6 that gets Peugeot's six-speed EAT6 automatic gearbox as standard.

What's it like?

While not likely to be a big seller, there's still lots to like about this turbo 1.6. For starters, it has more than adequate shove for building up motorway speeds quickly and tackling hilly terrain with a family and their luggage aboard, even if its best work is done in the upper reaches of its rev range. Crucially, no matter how hard you push it, it's always smooth, with little boom in the cabin.

Peugeot's six-speed automatic ’box doesn't have the finger-click fast changes of a dual-clutch auto, but it's no slusher, being intelligent enough to merrily flick down a ratio at the right time yet choose to change up and keep the 1.6 at a near-silent hum on the motorway. 

Pressing the 3008's Sport driving mode button undoes this a little as it begins hunting for a lower ratio too often, while the 3008's steering also becomes too heavily weighted. It needn't be that way, because staying out of Sport mode leaves the steering feeling more naturally weighted, with a pleasing evenness. There's an argument for the rack being a little too quick, but given that the 3008's body is nicely laterally controlled, it's not a huge issue.

But while laterally there's little give, the 3008 is fundamentally a softer-sprung small SUV than its rivals. Fast undulations see noticeable but well-controlled vertical movements. Road scars, ruts and potholes are all dealt with well, even if mid-corner bumps are more of a problem for the 3008's chassis.

Like its rivals, push hard and eventually the front wheels give up grip, but there's more than enough for brisk country blasts and no unwanted rear axle movement off the throttle. No 3008 gets all-wheel drive, but Grip Control (advanced traction control) with mud and snow tyres and a hill descent function is an option instead. 

This 3008 is a marked improvement from Peugeot in the ride and handling department, then, and also a real step forward inside. It's clear that perceived quality and a premium feel were the target here, and the 3008's new 'i-Cockpit' cabin is good news.

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For starters, an Audi-style 12.3in digital instrument cluster and an 8.0in touchscreen come as standard on all cars, the cluster being fully customisable via the 3008's standard multi-function steering wheel and every bit as high in resolution as Audi's effort, even if its menus aren't always as obvious to navigate. Interestingly, Peugeot has introduced a BMW-style gear selector on auto models, too, and it looks and feels substantial enough to be convincing. 

Indeed, overall dash material and switchgear quality is a massive improvement, surpassing that of a Nissan Qashqai and giving an Ateca a genuine run for its money. Equipment such as the aforementioned screens, Bluetooth, USB connection, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, climate control, rear parking sensors, lane departure and automatic emergency braking on all 3008s is aggressively good for the class, too. 

Furthermore, four (not quite five) adults will sit comfortably. The fact that the rear seats split 60/40 and fold completely flat using boot-mounted levers and the boot floor is adjustable makes it a practical choice, too. The boot itself has great access, with no load lip and a usefully square shape, and is larger than those of rivals.

Should I buy one?

Initial impressions from our drive in Italy reveal a dynamically well-rounded small SUV in the 3008 - as long as the Sport button is left well alone - while this petrol version's performance and refinement are more than a match for its peers' equivalents. Quality, standard equipment, space and practicality are also all good enough for the 3008 to be mixing with the best small SUVs.

However, and quite fundamentally, we know nothing of prices at this time, save for a range starting price of £21,795 for the entry-level 1.2 Puretech with a manual gearbox in cheapest Active trim. This high-powered petrol model with automatic gearbox is very likely to be north of £26,000 and not worth considering for the majority. 

Keep things more sensible with a 1.2 petrol or a1.6 diesel, though, and the 3008 makes a more convincing case for itself than ever before in this hotly contested class. 

Peugeot 3008 1.6 THP 165 Allure EAT6

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Location Italy; On sale January 2017; Price £26,000 (est); Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbo, petrol; Power 163bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 177lb ft at 1400rpm; Gearbox 6-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1375kg; 0-62mph 8.9sec; Top speed 128mph; Economy 49.6mpg (combined), CO2/tax band 129g/km, 22%; Rivals Nissan Qashqai 1.6 DIG-T 163, Seat Ateca 1.4 EcoTSI

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mpls 21 December 2016

The front of this car seems

The front of this car seems look like an overdone version of abandoned previous generation of lexus RX450 frint end before the spindle grille..
NeufNeuf 17 October 2016

Great car

I played with very many versions of this car at the Paris motor show this past weekend. Awesome car. A sunroof that can open, a cluster I can actually see over the tiny steering wheel and some awesome interior trim options makes this a very interesting car. Then I stepped into the Ateca and Kodiaq... dial cluster from the 2008, boring dashboards, awful seat trims and both utterly yawn inducing inside. But sadly I want a 4x4 and this Pug doesn't offer that. :-(
NeufNeuf 17 October 2016

Missing word

Can't edit on this awful interface... Should have read: "Then I stepped into the Ateca and Kodiaq... dial cluster from the YEAR 2008"... lest someone thinks the Kodiaq and Ateca have Peugeot 2008 dial clusters!
michael knight 14 October 2016

Lovely inside

Interior of this is best-in-class by a huge margin. I'm sure there's less torsional-flex in the console-surround of a VAG product, but it's a far, far nicer place to be. A game-changer. Hope they price it reasonably..