The car that wants to be everything
With the Nissan Qashqai and the surge of other crossovers set firmly in its sights, the Peugeot 3008 set out to combine style, safety, practicality, environmental friendliness, high quality comfort and desirability into one package. Blending the best of hatchback, SUV and MPV together, Peugeot also wanted the 3008 crossover to be enjoyable to drive – not just simply a lifeless family wagon.
Aiming to tick the hatchback box with a comfortable driving position, decent handling and strong road-holding, the SUV box with its high-up driving position, split tailgate and rugged looks, and the MPV box by means of bags of interior space and practicality, the Peugeot 3008 crossover was certainly aiming ambitiously high.
Meet Gerard Depardieu
Let’s start with its looks. It’s not the best-looking car of its ilk, that’s for sure, so would aptly be described as an acquired taste. I do think it looks more interesting than some of its squarer, more boring rivals – and I think the large grille works well as long as you don’t stare at it for too long, balancing aggressiveness and cuddliness quite well, to appeal to both schools of taste. The 3008 is certainly a curvy car with loads of sweeps, plunges and arches around it, from the roofline, wings and plunging windows to the uniquely-shaped rear LED lights. The black plastic trims and bumpers may not please everybody, but they do give it a chunky image and the chrome trim pieces add a bit of extra class and visual appeal to the overall design.
Something which makes this particular Peugeot 3008 I tested that little bit more special is the ‘SPORTIUM’ badge found by the wing mirrors. Available to order as a new limited edition vehicle between December 2011 and March 2012 only, the Sportium (I’ll revert to lowercase for the rest of the review) comes in one of three colours. The other choices being grey and black, my review car came in Bianca White, finishing off a trio of white Peugeots I had been sent to review. White really wouldn’t be my first choice when it comes to a 3008, but I have to admit it worked in some ways, making the car look even larger than it is and giving it a crisp, sturdy appearance. The 18” Exona alloy wheels filled the arches stylishly, too. So all in all, it’s a bit of a Marmite car but does have an elegant and classy air about it and strong sales of the 3008 in the UK show that it has proved popular and is continuing to do so.
Large on the outside and the same on the ‘in’
Based on the same platform as the 308 hatchback, the Peugeot 3008 looks surprisingly big on the outside despite its relatively modest real-life dimensions – and fortunately for families, film crews and anyone else who needs a large car able to swallow plenty of people and stuff, the 3008 is big on the inside too. This Sportium version was pretty elegant and luxurious on the inside, especially with very tasteful and individual two-tone dark grey and white leather trim with contrasting stitching. The elevated and commanding driving position is great and I love the way Peugeot have cocooned the driver by means of clever interior design, aiming to mimic the layout of an aircraft’s cockpit. Driver and passenger are separated by the high-up centre console along with the sweeping dashboard outline which extends down to an elegantly-stitched leather grab handle on the passenger side. This wraparound layout and the expansive windscreen actually make the 3008 feel a bit like a sports car from the driver’s seat.
The cockpit, dashboard and surrounding areas use a good amount of soft-touch materials to separate the Sportium version from more basic models in the 3008 range and from cheaper rivals on the wider market. For people used to previously driving a spacious MPV such as an original Citroen Xsara Picasso, the 3008’s sweeping, expansive dashboard with its pop-up sat nav screen and massive windscreen will make them feel right at home. It was disappointing to find that the front seats are both only adjustable manually and that they are not suited to drivers of around 5ft, somewhat owing to the position and angle of the pedals.
Most of the primary buttons and controls are located down the central fascia which looked elegant and felt intuitive. The dual zone air conditioning controls were a doddle to use, as were the buttons for the radio, Bluetooth phone and sat nav – which all worked well with no problems to report, apart from the sat nav resetting itself once after going over a pothole. The RCZ’s sat nav did the same thing. The row of toggle switches for operating the head-up display and distance alert functions added another dimension of interest and sophistication to the 3008 Sportium’s cabin. The front seats recline and the passenger seat even has a picnic table.
Storage space is often a key requirement when it comes to crossover vehicles like the Peugeot 3008 – and it doesn’t disappoint. The cubby hole in the front centre armrest is absolutely huge with 13.5 litres available, so full marks there – and that’s after some space has been taken up by the Wi-Fi router. That’s right, the limited edition Sportium version even comes with the rather cool feature of having Wi-Fi on-board. I managed to connect my Android phone to it fairly simply, so I imagine the same would be true for my laptop. People less familiar with wireless internet jargon may take a bit longer to work it out, the first time. Wi-Fi on-board is certainly a good feature for businesspeople or families who are addicted to or rely on the internet a lot. Going back to the subject of storage, it took me longer than usual to find the handbook, as Peugeot have given it its own special storage compartment under the steering wheel. This actually proved to be a good thing, as I don’t even reckon it would fit in the surprisingly small glovebox, which is intruded into far too much by what looked like the air bag. Other useful features include generous door bins, a holder for your spectacles and a storage net in the passenger footwell, plus drawers underneath the outermost rear seats.
Head, leg and shoulder-room all seemed good in the back and the full-length panoramic glass room allowed the interior cabin to be as dark or light as desired, the blind electronically retracting at the touch of a button. Visibility sat in the back is great and the central armrest folds down to reveal two cupholders. The nets on the back of the front seats really should be replaced by proper pockets in my opinion, as it was at times frustrating and fiddly to even slot in a magazine or road atlas. Rear occupants can also make use of the window blinds, to further enhance their comfort. The Sportium also comes fitted with Peugeot’s SOS assistance system.
The party piece
A real trump card up the Peugeot 3008’s sleeve is its highly versatile boot, which features a split tailgate, allowing you to easily slide objects in without any kind of lip getting in the way. You can even use the lower section of the split boot as a seat, if you wish – handy for when you’re changing your shoes before or after a hike, for example.
There’s a detachable torch in the boot for safety and convenience, and a ski flap for aiding the transporting of long objects or perhaps even skis. Standing at the back of the car, the rear seats can be folded flat effortlessly in one motion by pulling on a lever in the boot, and the boot floor is brilliant in that it can be adjusted to one of three levels to suit your needs. This means that you can configure it so there’s a hidden boot floor if you wish, along with a raised secondary ‘shelf’ at the height you choose. The highly practical, cavernous and versatile boot of the 3008 also comes with a 12V socket, bag hooks, lighting, a closable storage compartment built into the wall of the boot along with a storage bin on the opposite side and a puncture repair kit and other useful storage compartments under the floor. In total, the boot gives you 512 litres to play with if the rear seats are up and 1,604 litres when they’re folded flat. Plenty of room for the kitchen sink, then.
On Le Move
Turn the key and the 1.6-litre, 112bhp HDi FAP diesel engine is a bit clattery, but no more than what I was expecting. Sitting high up inside the spacious cabin means that all-round visibility in this large family car is very good and gives you a feeling of safety. Some clutches are more forgiving than others but the 3008’s clutch was a bit on the sensitive side at times. Especially higher up the range, the gearbox and gear level were both very nice and complaint-free and the diesel note subsided once I picked up speed.
In lower gears, the engine did struggle a bit and felt underpowered at times, but at A-road speeds and on the motorway, I was pleasantly surprised at how nicely the 3008 Sportium was to drive. Being a car designed primarily for practicality and not aerodynamic sportiness, it was a bonus to discover than the 3008 handled well, without much roll in corners, dealing with bumps and potholes pretty well considering it was riding on 18” alloys, and accelerating quite strongly when required. It shows that Peugeot’s strong experience in steering and suspension is evident in the 3008, too.
Although the 3008 Sportium coped with A-roads and gentler B-roads pretty well bearing in mind its relatively modest engine and general ethos as a car, the motorway was where it really excelled, munching the miles with ease. The majority of our Lancashire to Bedfordshire journey was spent on the M1 and the time from when we first joined the motorway at Sheffield to when we arrived at Millbrook seemed to go by in a flash, illustrating just how comfy and capable the 1.6-litre diesel 3008 was in such an environment. Oddly, it seemed to love speed, feeling more at home the faster we drove it.
The head-up display attracted lots of comments from Millbrook staff when we arrived in the car park, some even wondering if it was some kind of camera. We found it useful at times but wouldn’t be distraught if the car didn’t have it. The sound system in the Peugeot 3008 Sportium wasn’t bad but nothing to write home about, unlike the systems in the 508 GT and RCZ I had driven in the previous fortnight. It would have been nice if DAB radio was available, but I was impressed by the speed with which radio stations could be cycled through, with no delay at all when selecting them. The Distance Warning system was useful to have, but we left it turned off most of the time. Noise levels inside proved very good at all speeds.
It’s a heavy car, so Hill Assist was a welcome inclusion in the specification. Some people may not like the electronic parking brake, operated by a lever to the left of the driver’s seat, near the cupholders. But it doesn’t take much getting used to and unlike some manufacturers’ electronic parking brakes, this one auto releases.
What was really impressive about the 3008 was the fuel economy. Throughout the week with it, the car covered almost 500 miles, encompassing lots of slow, aggressive town driving, winding, hilly B-roads and 300 motorway miles. Peugeot quote 53.3mpg and guess what the car averaged during its week with me? Yep, 53mpg – spot on the official figure (with standard non-energy-saving tyres). The engine produces 270 lb ft or torque and is impressive when it comes to CO2 emissions as well, putting out 135g/km. So if you’re willing to trade power for economy along with pretty strong refinement, the Peugeot 3008 Sportium would be a good choice. This special edition model costs £23,395, placing it as the 2nd most expensive version in the 3008 range, just below the 163bhp diesel Allure model.
It’s big and practical with loads of space for people and things, but isn’t intimidating to drive in the slightest. It’s not got oodles of power but nevertheless performs very well on the motorway, providing a comfortable, safe and refined environment. The 3008 comes with oodles of useful storage space and has a very effective driving position and cabin. The Sportium edition also panders to the technology crowd with the inclusion of a head-up display, Bluetooth phone system and on-board Wi-Fi. To me the 3008 looks more individual and hence more endearing than many of its rivals. At about £3,000 more than the equivalent engine in ‘Active’ trim, the 3008 Sportium makes for a very good all-round family car, especially for those after a high specification as opposed to power.
© Oliver Hammond
Motoring Writer, Road Test Reviewer & Car Consultant
Specification of the Peugeot 3008 112 HDI FAP Manual Sportium tested in this review
Engine: 1,560cc, 4-cylinder diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Max Output: 112bhp
Max Torque: 270 lb ft
Top Speed: 112mph
0-60mph: 13.6 seconds
Combined fuel economy: 53.3mpg
Fuel tank capacity: 60 litres
CO2 Emissions: 135g/km
Gross Weight: 2,030kg
Max Towing Weight (braked): 1,300kg
Boot capacity: 512 litres (rear seats up), 1,604 litres (rear seats down, brimmed to the roof)
Dimensions: 4,365mm long, 1,836mm wide including mirrors, 1,639mm high
Standard Specification includes (but not limited to):
Grey Luxury Leather trim with Heated Seats and Driver Lumbar Support in lieu of Cloth
Peugeot Connect Navigation (RNEG) with Colour Satellite Navigation and Bluetooth (not available with USB)
Peugeot Connect SOS and Assistance (BTA)
Head Up Display and Distance Alert
Cruise Control with Speed Limiter
Ultrasonic alarm (Thatcham category 1 approved)
Flat Folding Front Passenger seat with Picnic Table
Retrovision Pack (Electric Folding Mirrors, Electrochrome Interior Mirror & Exterior Courtesy Light)
Reclining front seats
Rear centre armrest with integrated storage space including two drinks holders and ski flap (access to boot)
60/40 split folding rear seat back and squab
Driver Lumbar Support
Seats Fold flat – control positioned in the boot
Driver SMART airbag
Front passenger SMART airbag with deactivate switch
2 Side SMART airbags
Front and rear curtain SMART airbag
ABS with EBFD and Emergency Brake Assist
ESP and ASR (Electronic Stability Programme and traction control) with deactivate switch
Front Seat Belts with pretensioners and force limiters
Rear Seat Belts are 3 point seatbelts with force limiters
2 Isofix location points (Row 2 outer seats – ensure child seat is appropriate for Exclusive with footwell storage)
Ultrasonic alarm (Thatcham category 1 approved)
Rolling code transponder immobiliser (Thatcham category 2 approved)
Automatic door re-locking (if door not opened in 30 seconds)
Locking wheel bolts for alloy wheels
Puncture Repair Kit
Electric Parking Brake
Speed related Electric Power assisted steering
Remote control central locking with two plip keys
Electric front and rear windows
Rear and front parking aid
Height and reach adjustable steering wheel
Cruise Control with Speed limiter
3 Position Boot Floor
Wi-Fi on Board
Dual Zone digital air-conditioning with Air Quality Sensor (AQS)
Heated Seats when ordered with Leather option
Head Up Display and Distance Alert with Toggle Switches
Panoramic ‘Cielo’ glass roof with electric shutter blind
Leather Steering Wheel
12V accessory power points
Central Console Storage compartment
Additional Glove Box compartment under the steering wheel
Family Pack – Additional Storage compartment in row 2 footwells (please ensure appropriate Child Seat)
Portable Light in LHS of Boot trim
Rear Tinted Windows
18” Exona alloy wheels with Puncture Repair Kit
Automatic headlamps (Visibility Pack)
Front fog lights
Retrovision Pack – Electrically folding door mirrors, Electrochrome rear view mirror & exterior courtesy light