Driven: Peugeot 3008 2.0HDi

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ROARING LION – Peugeot 3008 2.0HDi

The new 3008 is not only a looker, but it’s great to drive, economical and has a great interior too. But can it woo buyers from the competition?

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And even though that proverb is applicable in most cases, even the biggest believers would have shunned the original Peugeot 3008. The truth is, it was more MPV than SUV, and try as Peugeot did to make it as dynamic as possible, it just wasn’t as attractive as its rivals.

But that was more than 10 years ago, Peugeot have evolved their business model, and with that, their design language as well. Peugeot knew that when they did launch the second-generation of the 3008, it needed to be something special, especially when you consider than the segment they were competing in, is arguably the most competitive segment of them all.

They went back to the drawing board, started with a clean slate, injected some typical Gallic charm, some forward-thinking tech, and a truly unique design; and came away with the vehicle you see before you. Despite being boldly styled, it’s fair to say that the all-new 3008 is a stunning vehicle; and one that would never be mistaken for anything else except a Peugeot.

But, competing in the segment they are, Peugeot would have to build a spectacular vehicle to infiltrate this market. And reality is, they would need to do enough to separate it from the competition. There is unique styling, a handful of engine directives, a one-of-a-kind cockpit, a great drive, and a fair price. Surely they have done enough? And the great news is that they have!

But, there is bad news. This is South Africa, and as a result, the locals have a hankering for anything German, irrespective of the limited standard specification and over inflated price. And because of this rather blind brand-bias, buyers are exhibiting a ‘sheep mentality’; and as a result, losing out on brilliant vehicles like the 3008.

With most cars, it’s relatively easy to pick a favourite side, front or back? But with the 3008, it seems both are so exquisitely styled, that people can’t decide which side they like more. This is true folks, we posed this question to roughly 50 people, and an overwhelming majority loved the front and rear styling equally. Its striking appearance is further enhanced by ‘Claw effect’ LED taillights and chrome touches throughout the exterior.

But the interior of the 3008 was our favourite part. If ever you wanted to drive a sports car, but needed to shuttle the family at the same time, then the 3008 is for you. Before you think we’re gone a little moggy, but here us out – we are of course the Auto Advisor.

The 3008 features what Peugeot calls the i-Cockpit, and this basically an extremely driver focused cockpit much in the same vein as those thoroughbred Italian sports cars. The design is very progressive, not just in this segment; and features a clever use of materials, potentially making the 3008 the French automakers best-ever place to sit.

The dashboard is stylish and contemporary, but not at the cost of simplicity or ergonomics. Tech levels are impressive too, as the 3008 features an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment screen, as well as the brand’s new 12.3-inch i-Cockpit digital instrument display. The digital instrument display can be personalised to suit the driver’s needs; while the infotainment system is easy to use, and offers smart phone levels of responsiveness. To further complement the 8-inch touchscreen, an angular leather-wrapped steering wheel, and aviation-inspired satin chrome toggle switches, provide a unique touch to the futuristic cabin. Appointments aside, the cabin is spacious, comfortable and offers upwards of 591 litres of available luggage space.

Like any good sports car, the 3008 needs some strong oomph. Under its clam-shaped bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel motor that produces 110kw. And we would agree that that is hardly anything to get excited about. But if there is anything we learnt from that famous British motoring television show, it’s that it’s not power output but rather torque dictates how a vehicle performs. And when you see that peak torque of 370nm is available at just 2,000rpm; you think to yourself that the 3008 might be pretty brisk, especially if it features a sporty suspension arrangement. Brisk it is, because we timed it running from 0-100kph in just 7.9 seconds; and Peugeot has assured us that it will pass 200kph. The motor is also extremely frugal, as we managed an impressive 5.3 litres per 100kms for the 800km duration of our week long test.

What’s another prerequisite for a sports car? Engaging handling, yes? From behind the wheel, it’s easy to forget that the 3008 is a 4.5 metre long SUV. Even when pushing on into sharp corners, there’s hardly any pitch or roll to cause any problems. Ensure you’re in the middle of the torque curve as you kiss the apex, and the 3008 will power you out of a corner, with enough surge to not only bring a smile to your face, but raise an eyebrow at its sporty handling. Despite it off-roader looks, we would hazard taking the 3008 onto any serious off-roader course. This is because the 3008 isn’t all-wheel drive, it is actually front-wheel drive, but thanks to a trick traction control and hill descent control, it can do some very minor soft-roading.

Being the 2017 European Car of the Year, means that the 3008 features some stellar safety appointments. As standard, it gets ABS with EBD, PDC, ESP with ASR, LDW, AEBS2, DAA1 and just about any other safety acronym that we know of. And together with ISOFIX attachment points, there are six airbags in total.

The 2.0HDi variant is available in two specification levels. With such an impressive vehicle, you would have expected Peugeot to name the specification level ‘Amazing’ instead of ‘Active’ and ‘Allure’. One of primary differences between them, is that the Active features a six-speed manual transmission, while the Allure uses a six-speed automatic transmission. The Allure also gets 18-inch alloys, in place of the Active’s 17-inch wheels.

In terms of specification, the Allure gains LED-down lit folding mirrors, keyless entry and a start-stop button, Mirror screen featuring MirrorLink smart phone technology, and a front parking aid. But the Allure spec also gets something called i-Cockpit Amplified, which gifts the pilot of the 3008, a relaxing multipoint massage while driving. And because variety is the spice of life, it features five massage types conducted through eight-pocket pneumatic technology.

So there you have it. Some great consumer advice from us at AutoAdvisor – if you want to buy a sports car, but have to stress about carting the family and a boot full of luggage at the same time, you need a 3008 2.0HDi. As we mentioned earlier, there are a handful of models in the 3008 line-up, so there really is one for every budget. The range kicks off with the 1.2T Active Limited Edition priced at R378 900, and tops out with the 1.6T GT Line at R532 900. The 2.0HDi Active carries a sticker price of R439 900, while the similarly engine Allure costs R491 900. And to complete an already impressive package, the 3008 2.0HDi comes standard with a 4-year/60 000km service plan, and a 3-year/ 100 000km warranty.

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