The BlueHDi diesel versions of the Peugeot's 3008 hold strong appeal. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
The 3008 is one of the top models in the burgeoning crossover market and in diesel guise it's at its most impressive. The HDi oil-burning engines are smooth and more than capable of shifting the 3008 while returning decent economy figures. Ride quality is hard to fault and this high-riding car even handles in a nippy manner. All in all, if you like the low key looks, it has to be a thumbs up.
The car industry likes nothing better than a good trend. First, some troubled genius, chained to a drawing board deep in the catacombs beneath a leading manufacturer's HQ comes up with the next big thing. The manufacturer builds the car and enjoys a short period of unbridled sales success while all the others rush to get a similar model into their showrooms and grab a piece of the action. Over the past few years, we've seen compact MPVs, compact 4x4s and supermini MPVs all enjoy a stint as the trendiest thing in town. Now it's the turn of the 'crossover', which is great news for Peugeot and its 3008, a car we examine here in HDi diesel form. Crossover is one of those horrid catch-all terms that can mean pretty much anything. It's a kind of halfway house in some respects, a compromise between two kinds of vehicle but one that raises awkward questions. Can really great cars be born out of compromise? What exactly is the crossover crossing over from and to? Where its 3008 is concerned, Peugeot's answer would be that this is a crossover residing somewhere between the 308 hatchback and the 4007 compact 4x4. It's not the originator of the crossover craze but it is one of the finest exponents and the diesel models will hold particular appeal.
There's a choice of 1.6 or 2.0-litre BlueHDi engines confronting 3008 buyers with a penchant for diesel. The 120bhp 1.6-litre BlueHDi engine has up to 300Nm of torque at its disposal while the 150bhp 2.0-litre engine offers a hefty 340Nm. Performance is adequate with the 1.6-litre engine covering the 0-60mph sprint in 12.0s and the 150bhp 2.0-litre scraping under the 10s barrier. The strong pulling power brings a simplicity to the 3008 driving experience, while its availability from low revs reduces the need for gearchanges. The 3008's suspension set-up is independent MacPherson struts with an anti-roll bar at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. It's the sort of arrangement still found in the majority of family hatchbacks and like the majority of family hatchbacks, the 3008 is front-wheel-drive only. The vehicle is very impressive out on the road, primarily because the ride is extremely comfortable but also in the way it handles surprisingly neatly for a taller vehicle. The 2.0-litre BlueHDi models come with the Dynamic Roll Control system built into the rear suspension which is designed to counteract the body roll that higher riding vehicles can experience when cornered with feeling. Even without it, though, the 3008 drives with good composure. The higher seating position yields improved visibility just like in a compact 4x4 but the uncouth road manners associated with off-road vehicles aren't in evidence.
Design and Build
The 3008 runs on the same underpinnings as the 308 hatch and its other spin-off models. Styling-wise, it employs a conventional hatchback shape but its high nose, the beefy bumpers and those flared wheelarches provide the hint of SUV that marks the 3008 out as a crossover. Peugeot's recent design efforts have split opinion with the enormous yawning grille that was rolled out across the model range proving distinctive but not always in an aesthetically pleasing way. In moving away from this family face, the 3008 is one of the most conventionally good-looking Peugeots we've seen for a while. The rear tailgate is split like that of the 4007 SUV, so while the top section lifts up like a hatch, the bottom one drops down to form a convenient loading platform that can hold 200kg. Total boot space is a very large 512-litres and this jumps to 1,604 litres when the rear seats are folded down. The cabin quality is also worthy of note with the 3008 featuring some classy trim finishes. The control system may not be the most intuitive but you'll get the hang of it and everything seems robustly built.
Market and Model
The fact that no 3008 has four-wheel-drive should be taken into account when comparing prices as many of its rivals offer a choice of sending power to the front or to all four wheels. In general, the 3008 is competitive against rivals like the Nissan Qashqai, which started the whole crossover boom, and Hyundai's ix35. The Ford Kuga is a little pricier. Diesel customers pay a hefty premium over the entry-level petrol variants but they'll get a more satisfying all-round ownership proposition. Some will be tempted by the more powerful 1.6 THP turbocharged petrol unit which looks more attractive next to the oil-burners but can't match their running costs. Peugeot expects the oil-burners to sell strongly and that should be how it pans out. The automatic gearbox is an interesting option for a £1,200 premium and coming with a power boost over the 150bhp 2.0 HDi model and a smooth self-shifter is certainly in-keeping the 3008's style. The range is based around Active, Sport and Exclusive trim levels but even the entry-level variants come with 17" steel wheels with Michelin Energy Saver Tyres, a leather steering wheel, a CD player, front fog-lights, electric front windows, air-conditioning, an automatic electric parking brake with hill assist, the electronic stability programme (ESP), a height and reach adjustable steering wheel, remote central door locking with deadlocks and ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBFD).
Cost of Ownership
The absence of the weighty mechanicals associated with four-wheel-drive is a real benefit when it comes to fuel economy, an area where the diesel 3008s really shine. The 1.6 BlueHDi engine returns 68.9mpg on the combined cycle and 108g/km in the 3008 while the 2.0-litre unit uses a stop and start system to achieve a 106g/km showing. All of the BlueHDi diesels are of course equipped with FAP particulate filters which further clean-up the exhaust emissions.
The crossover craze hasn't passed Peugeot by and its 3008 is one of the top models out there combining 4x4 looks with family hatch road manners. In diesel guise, it's a little more expensive but the benefits of Peugeot's HDi oil-burning engines outweigh the costs. With a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience aided by the muscular pull of Peugeot's willing diesels and a roomy cabin with a quality feel, the 3008 makes a fine family car. There are models with more dynamic looks out there but the 3008's handsomely understated lines will be preferable to some and both prices and running costs look reasonable.