When Peugeot launched the 3008 it arrived at a time when people were not entirely sure what a crossover was.
The market was still relatively new with only a few major players including the Nissan Qashqai and Toyota Rav4 on the scene, but then along came this thing that wasn’t an SUV but wasn’t a regular hatchback either. It also didn’t look like a crossover in the true sense of the word. It was quirky, French, but by all accounts it was a crossover.
While the first generation was something of an anomaly, it was still a good vehicle and attracted a loyal following even at a time when Peugeot was going through a bad time in SA.
Now the second generation 3008 has arrived and to avoid any confusion, it looks like a small SUV-crossover. Life is simple again. Although not so much for the competition because after a week with the car in GT-Line spec, we understand why it took the European Car of the Year title.
It’s rather good, not just in terms of its cool design, strong engine and perceived good build quality, but in terms of its cool factor, something that the first generation lacked.
While designers agonise over the exterior design, the 3008 is more about its interior. The first generation had something of C cockpit design with a sweeping centre console and a strong focus on the driver, but the new one is something else altogether. Peugeot refers to it as the i-Cockpit and quite honestly, anything Jaguar and others have said about fighter jet inspiration pales when it comes to this Pug.
The gearstick for the six-speed auto looks and feels like it has been lifted from the parts bin of a military jet manufacturer.
The design is not perfect though, because I spent ages trying to find a button for home on the infotainment system. There isn’t one, although Peugeot has listened to customers of other brands and at least included a manual volume knob.
There is a fully digital instrumentation screen with easy to navigate menus. Here, though, I have to point out that while the situation has improved, Peugeot has still not quite got the steering wheel position right. The wheel itself is still race car inspired with a small diameter and excellent grip, but it does obscure a large part of the instrumentation screen.
At least Peugeot has moved the speed indicator up higher in the screen so you know what speed you are actually doing.
Most of the menus and infotainment settings are accessible through buttons on the steering wheel, but Peugeot still insists on hiding the cruise control levers behind the steering wheel where they cannot be seen.
The turbocharged 1.6 petrol motor is well-proven with 121kW and 240Nm. Leave it in auto and it pulls well with smooth gearchanges, although you can use the reassuringly solid paddles behind the wheel. Hit Sport and the engine adopts a deeper tone and everything sharpens slightly.
Be careful of that Sport button though, because if like me you hate having to take your eyes off the road, you could find yourself hitting the electronic handbrake button which is way too close to the Sport one.
The suspension is good but not perfect, with the Pug tending to pitch slightly at each corner depending on the road surface. Some updates to the damping would help. The steering is also a little temperamental, being at times over sensitive and at others under sensitive. We got used to it, but Peugeot has a little work to do here.
I have no hesitation in saying that Peugeot has come up with a fantastic package, even at the R519,900 price tag of the range-topping GT-Line model.
It is unique, quirky, cool and practical, all in one.
And did we mention that it has a cool seat massaging function called Cat Paws?
It left the factory as a great car with very few flaws, but as we have seen over the years, it is not so much about the car, but about the reputation of Peugeot SA. For some it won’t matter how good a car it is and while the company has made great strides to improve its offering to its customers, it is still something to consider before you climb into the i-Cockpit. – Mark Smyth