It may not seem like it from our position at the bottom of the globe, but the French are innovators. In industries from cosmetics to agriculture, the French have a history of setting the trends. They are also known for their cars.
Outside of Europe, the reputation of French cars has never been something worth bragging about. Concerns over build quality and reliability have diminished the appeal of going French.
The other side of the coin tells a story of quirky and interesting designs that bring a different flavour to the dominant brands from Asia.
In recent years, French brands haven’t really offered anything substantial in the segments where Australians are spending most of their money, until now.
Enter the all-new 2018 Peugeot 3008, a midsize SUV that will need a strong back, it carries the weight of high expectations and is tasked with getting the brand back in the minds of new car buyers. Flying the flag for French cars in Toyota territory is an unenviable task.
Australian’s who only take a casual interest in all things automotive can be forgiven for not knowing Peugeot has a back catalogue of greatest hits that would make many brands envious. From cracking hot hatchbacks to accomplished family cars Peugeot has the runs on the board.
Over the last decade, buyers are most likely to associate Peugeot with rebadged Mitsubishis. This new SUV breaks a few shackles and gives the French marque some genuine showroom firepower.
It’s very rare to get a press car that isn’t a range-topper, however, in this instance, we have been fortunate enough to be assigned the Allure trim level. This is the mid-range petrol model that is priced from $39,490 plus on-roads. Astute buyers will discover, the Allure is where the smart money is. The Allure is reasonably well appointed and packs enough safety gear to secure a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Getting up close to the new 3008 its European origins are immediately apparent. This is largely down to the car’s dimensions, the 3008 is on the smaller side of the midsize SUV segment.
Unlike the old model, this is a sharp looking car, the new 3008 has no problems commanding attention amongst the hordes of SUVs on local roads. The design brings some genuine individuality that will appeal to style-conscious buyers.
The fresh looking exterior gives the Peugeot a clear point of differentiation for the inevitable cross-shopping against the Japanese offerings that dominate the market. The floating roof works well with the nicely sculpted front and rear lights. Throw in a very well judged sprinkling of chrome and everything comes together as succinctly as a Mary Berry cake.
Peugeot has obviously realised some exterior design flair isn't going to establish the long-term relationships it needs to build its presence in places like Australia. The instant sugar hit of the outside becomes considerably more filling when the door is opened.
At first sight, the interior of the new 3008 looks a generation or two ahead of mainstream rivals. It’s a sophisticated looking interior, there’s a minimalist approach with very few buttons. All the functions can be accessed through the 8.0-inch touchscreen which keeps the cabin clean.
As millennials would say, it looks the business. Even the combination of leather and cloth on the seats is visually appealing.
Overall layout aside, Peugeot’s latest i-Cockpit is a bit of a scene stealer. The i-Cockpit replaces the traditional dials and gauges usually housed in the instrument binnacle. The 12.3-inch digital display cleverly allows drivers to customise the look and prioritise information they deem most important. We have seen similar tech in premium cars before, generally as a pricey option, in the 3008 it’s standard in all variants.
The futuristic design isn’t without issue, some aspects of the interior are not as well executed as they could be. Being tall made it impossible to set the small steering wheel at an angle that gave me a full view of the i-Cockpit. In the end, I had to set it so low it removed the ease of entry and egress that would generally be a selling point in a car with 219mm of ground clearance. Frustrating to say the least.
Frustrating is also the word I would use to describe the location of the cruise control stalk, its positioning is awful. It can’t be seen from behind the steering wheel and it is littered with too many buttons. This isn’t just an inconvenience, it's also a safety issue. In no way is it user-friendly and a simpler solution needs to be found.
Then there’s the fit and finish which falls a long way short. There were huge gaps where pieces of plastic should have lined up. Some of the joins and seams where materials came together were well below what should be expected from a European car pitching itself as slightly upmarket.
Some of the gaps in the plastic on the inside of our tester could comfortably allow a toothpick to fit between them. So concerned was I throughout our cabin assessment, I visited a dealer to view a model that wasn’t from Peugeot’s press fleet. The cars at the dealership were noticeably better, but not perfect.
Material quality was also a concern, the leather on the steering wheel of our test car had already started to show substantial wear after only 4000 kilometres.
For a car that is looking to compete against the plethora of SUVs, rear seat legroom comes up short when compared to the big sellers in the category. If space is a heavily weighted criterion, the 3008 won't win a contest against an equivalent Honda or Toyota which offer far better interior packaging. Buyers wanting a Peugeot SUV with more space will need to head towards the larger 5008.
There is a great centre console compartment, it's really deep, making it very practical for family buyers.
While preparing to set off thoughts turn to how comfortable the seats are. The manual lumbar support is worth its weight in gold.
Reversing out of the driveway reveals the underwhelming resolution of the rearview camera. It looks like it was borrowed from an old Blackberry.
The drivetrain is actually one of the car's greatest assets, there is some substance beneath the style. The 1.6-litre turbo petrol is good for 121kW of power and 240Nm of torque.
The official 9.9 second 0 to 100km/h time isn’t anything special, however, on the road, it's a zippy performer matched with a decisive automatic gearbox. The delivery of power feels far more spontaneous than the figures would suggest.
In city driving, the size of the 3008 is close to perfect making it incredibly easy to manoeuvre through busy traffic. The 3008 sends power to the front wheels only, so the urban jungle is its natural habitat.
The design of the 3008 lends itself to a sporty drive, but it doesn’t always deliver. The steering is light and generally direct with a somewhat artificial feeling. The radical design of the steering wheel feels too small in relation to the size of the car. It takes a while to get used to.
If your daily commute encompasses very poor roads, it’s likely the suspension will feel on the firm side. For Australian roads, a softer calibration would better suit the conditions.
On a highway run, the 3008 is comparable in terms of refinement with the market leaders and it remains comfortable after a few hours behind the wheel.
An area where the 3008 was surprisingly good was the commendable amount of body control displayed in the bends.
During our week with the 3008, the infotainment system was initially deemed overly fiddly and nowhere near as intuitive as it could be, however, by week’s end our level of ability at working through the numerous functions could rival the skills of any grand pianist.
Peugeot lists a combined fuel consumption figure of 7.0L/100km. The number displayed on the i-Cockpit at the conclusion of our test week read 8.1L/100km.
In the past, one of the biggest obstacles in going French was warranty coverage. Pleasingly, common sense has prevailed with the launch of the Peugeot Prestige program which brings a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and five-year roadside assistance.
Peugeot is also offering a capped price service program that covers the 3008 for the first five years or 100,000km. Maintenance is set at convenient 12 month/20,000km intervals with visits back to the dealership averaging $595 under the capped price structure.
So there you have it, Peugeot’s most competitive family car in a long time is a mixed bag. It's stylish to the point that Japanese rivals, even newer ones, look dated. In this regard, the new 3008 throws some serious smoke.
It's an innovative cabin layout for sure, but there are just a few too many idiosyncrasies and build quality issues for our liking. Being a new release we look forward to seeing how the 3008 evolves over the next few years and what steps Peugeot takes to address the niggling issues that weigh the car down.
This Peugeot SUV is a good car, but it's missing the attention to detail that could make it a great car. Greater emphasis on the fit and finish of the cabin would go a long way towards improving the overall atmosphere and do justice to the design.
At this stage, style is what sets the 3008 apart from the hordes of SUVs currently for sale. Buyers looking for something different will be drawn to the car’s exterior and interior looks. One thing we can definitively say is the new 3008 is the most appealing family car to wear a Peugeot badge for some time.
2018 Peugeot 3008 Allure Specifications
Price from $39,490 plus on-road costs Engine 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol Power 121kW @ 6000rpm Torque 240Nm @ 1400rpm Transmission six-speed automatic Performance 0 to 100km/h 9.9 seconds Combined Fuel Consumption 7.0L/100km Tank Capacity 53L Length 4447mm Width 2098mm (including mirrors) Height 1624mm Wheelbase 2675mm Ground Clearance 219mm Turning Circle 10.7m Tare Weight 1371kg Service Intervals 12 months/20,000km Warranty five-year/unlimited kilometre
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