Peugeot wasted no time. The moment we landed at Bologna airport, a line-up of 3008s was waiting in the parking lot.
After a route briefing, it was time to jump in and head south to Florence – or Firenze as the locals call it – and into the Italian countryside.
We were reminded to take the left turn at a certain stretch of the highway if we wanted to experience the panoramic beauty of Italy’s Tuscany region. The plan was to drive to Florence before turning back to Bologna and end the day at the Palazzo Di Varignana, a posh resort where hot meals and bed beckoned.
Unlike the bulbous-looking first generation, the new 3008 has undergone a massive makeover and came out looking like one of the fashion models strutting their stuff on the Parisian catwalk. The new build has done a world of good in ramping up its curb appeal.
Peugeot has lately been embracing SUVs with a vengeance rolling out the new B-segment 2008, the 5-seat C-segment 3008 and 7-seat C-segment 5008. It, of course, has everything to do with the current worldwide love-fest for SUVs/crossovers.
The front-wheel drive 3008 is available with a 1.2-litre, 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre turbocharged engines. Transmission is either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto. The second-generation 3008 has turned out to be a stylish product with premium aspirations and truly worthy of being called an SUV.
After driving the 3008 over two days outside the city of Bologna, it was easy to see why Peugeot is confident the 3008 would do well. We do think this is a car that would sock it to Peugeot rivals, going by its attractive design, cabin refinements and technological innovations. Imagine, for instance, a digital meter cluster as standard fitment in all variants; it’s something special that makes the SUV stand out.
The exterior features sculpted lines with slinky headlights that flow into a muscular bodywork. Black-out pillars give the impression of a floating roof. The cabin is even more interesting with a fabric-covered dashboard that looks refreshing.
Also appealing is the clean look of the dash with most controls gathered into the centre 8-inch infotainment touchscreen and elegant piano keys below for quick access to such features as ventilation, music and navigation.
The small steering wheel is unusual with a flat top and bottom; its size and shape may not be to everyone’s taste. It is angled low to comply with Peugeot’s i-cockpit requirements so that the driver looks over the top of the wheel into the instrument binnacle.
Speaking of the instrument cluster, it’s a gorgeous piece of kit that makes you almost think: “Am I in an Audi TT?” No doubt other car makers will ape this nascent trend. In the 3008, it works well to captivate the user and provide five different views of what’s going on.
The sat-nav view shows up the map centrally on the 12.3-inch digital display but doesn’t stretch all the way to the sides like in the Audi TT as it is bookmarked by the speed and rpm rotation bands. First-row space and comfort are fine while the second row is snug with decent legroom. Luggage space is 520l and expands to a generous 1,580 litres with last seats folded down.
The ride and handling of the 3008 is more than decent. On the move, the 3008 goes nice and comfy with a pliant suspension filtering out most road corrugations. The cabin is an oasis of calm as wind and tyre noise are not intrusive at cruising speeds.
It’s all the better to enjoy Focal, the premium 10-speaker sound system offered as an optional factory-fitted equipment. The 3008 tackles corners with enough grip and body-roll reined in. Handling was predictable and steering felt light and progressive.
The 1.6-litre petrol, which is the one coming over next year, is responsive, smooth and easy to live with. It accelerated reasonably well, going from 0-100kph in 8.9s, producing peak output of 165hp. The 1.6- and 2.0-litre diesels have the torque advantage even if they are noisier than the petrol at idle.
We only got to try the 180hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel but reckoned the 120hp 1.6-litre diesel would have to work much harder when pushed because of its smaller displacement.
Dieselgate or not, the diesels, which will be the bulk seller in Europe, will more than make up for it with better fuel economy and do a better job at towing heavy loads, with some European journos claiming the 1.6-litre diesel is the sweet spot.
The auto gearbox is able to match revs in most cases and you only need to engage paddle shifters to sort things out in moments of indecisiveness. The manual box in the 130hp 1.2L gave a good account of itself, shifting precisely and relaying power from a 3-cylinder engine that felt adequate, coupled to a lightened chassis.
The 3008 is offered with a Grip Control Pack that includes Hill Assist Descent Control that allows the 3008 to do some basic offroading. We tried out the Hill descent feature in the 1.2-litre 3008, and it was easy peasy to go down a steep slope in a controlled manner. The 3008 can even do Hill Descent backwards.
The 3008 should arrive in Malaysia by the second quarter of 2017.
Peugeot 3008: 1.6L THP 6-speed Automatic
Peugeot 3008: 2.0L BlueHDi 6-speed Automatic
Peugeot 3008: 1.2L PureTech 6-speed manual