In a land where desert expeditions and camel races are the weekend past time, the little Peugeot is the rational choice.
At first glance we see a compact SUV with a 1.6l engine, a meager 181 Bhp and enough space for just 4 passengers with limited luggage. In the land of cheap gasoline and sandy dunes it can’t stand its ground against the quintessential off-roader. Yet, there is so much more to this herald of French Engineering that meets the eye.
The umbrella and bicycle manufacturer of yore already proved its savoir-faire on everything cars. From winning various film awards for the Pikes Peak record, with Ari Vatanen, to conquering the desert dunes in the Paris-Dakar, to winning the 24h of LeMans. There can be little doubt that Peugeot knows a thing or two about cars. Hence, when they bet on the small SUV we’d better listen.
An interior that misses NOTHING
Putting aside pure performance for a moment, what we have here is a compact SUV that spares no expense in equipment. Especially at the price point and in the category we are looking at. You think it, it has it. Adaptive Cruise control. Lane departure assist. Parking cameras with 3D effect. Seat massage. Aroma system. Turning headlights. Motorized tailgate. It’s all there.
And it has a non-round steering wheel! How cool is that? So cool. Not as cool as the old Citroen C4 steering wheel with the stationary central bit, but very cool. Why? Well, that’s where the French Engineering comes into place. Instead of elevating the dashboard, or raising the seats or any other possible solution, they had to skim on the top of the steering so that you can see the dials. And meanwhile have enough headroom for long-necked individuals such as myself. Fabulous. Plus, you can assume the cool hand-on-top-of-the-steering without showing the armpit sweaty shirt. That’s forethought if there ever was one.
A car for the outdoors, but the civilized outdoors…
Summer testing in the Middle East becomes a true testament to A/C performance. And the 3008 is just about competent. Outside temperatures of 48 degrees meant the car took about 25 minutes to become habitable. And you have likely arrived by that point. Tsk, tsk. True, the car was dark blue instead of white, but it’s more attractive in that color than in standard Taxi-white. It’s a balance.
As it is the norm for every motoring journalist, SUV’s are not our thing. And the 3008 pretends to be one. In the way that it comes with road tires, road suspension, low-hanging (but beautiful) spoilers and all that, making it capable to climb a sidewalk but little more. The center console has some type of roulette with fancy symbols for snow, sand, low-gear and all that but they all mean quite little. This frenchie belongs on the road, eating croissants and shopping for cheese. The closest to the wild you should get with it is the mountain parking lot for the truffle hunt of the Autumn.
I guess that, being this car the last you would buy to challenge the sand dunes, you don’t even need a 4wd system on this car. I mean, it rains twice a year, it never snows (unfortunately) and you will never see one 3008 on top of Fossil Rock. To add intelligence to this very smart vehicle, I would eliminate the rear traction (centre diff, rear diff), which would mean to eliminate weight, power loss, friction elements, cost, fuel consumption. And you would gain in agility, performance and in maintenance costs. Think about it Peugeot?
Style and Utility at their best…
Family departures enabled me to test boot capacity and as small as it looks, it held 4 massive suitcases, the expat kind, without any prior Tetris training. Which is what you expect from this type of car. You give up aerodynamics, fuel efficiency, aesthetics and stability for this very purpose, and the 3008 does not disappoint.
Six-speed gearbox and 181 Bhp moving 1,530Kg are not going to rock your socks in sporty driving. But it does ok. The engine is obviously turbo charged which makes the acceleration a bit delayed and the 205/55 R19 tires provide a comfortable ride. Surprisingly though, you can be a bit “liberal” with the mass transfer, it’s a tall car after all, and playfully get the 3008 over-steering in a controlled and sedated fashion. Nothing better than being able to grasp the limits of the car at speeds that do not mean instant extinction were you to get it wrong.
There are things that, although they cost money, are priceless. And the little Peugeot hides a true gem that should not be overlooked. Where Mercedes drives a Burmester audio system, Audi a B&O and BMW a B&W, the 3008 comes with Focal JMLab speakers. A 40-year old company that makes the most beautiful and musical speakers out there.
Thus, the sound system is glorious, the panels don’t rattle and, if you are not a barbarian that cranks-up the bass as high as it goes, you are going to be treated to a silky auditory experience you would need to pay double for in anything German made.
French car with French audio. Good call, Peugeot, good call.
At IN, we can’t stand SUVs. We are practical, we like little compromises, we like pure stuff, made to satisfy ONE need very well, instead of ALL badly. But we welcome challenges and this 3008 gave us the relieving feeling of “well, this is not bad at all”. The French doll costs between 25,850$ and 33,700$, which considering the technical specs, the equipment, the materials and the expected durability, is a great value for money. Just pretend it’s a normal car with a higher roof and you will be extremely satisfied.