Peugeot 3008 SUV: 2017 European Car of the Year
As a most pleasant coup, the Peugeot 3008 won the 2017 European Car of the Year Award. This has led to some favorable problems as Peugeot is suddenly a victim of its own success, struggling to produce enough units of the admittedly highly impressive 3008 SUV from its Sochaux-Montbeliard factory, the second most technologically advanced factory in Europe, second only to the Airbus factory in Toulouse.
This win came right after PSA Group’s (Peugeot’s parent company together with Citroen and DS) buyout of the Opel and Vauxhall brands from General Motors to the tune of 2.2 billion euros, effectively signaling GM’s complete pull-out from the European Market.
This makes the PSA Group the second-biggest automotive manufacturer group in Europe, second only to the Volkswagen Group.
Great times indeed are rolling in for the French brand, which only less than a decade ago was in dire financial straits.
With all-new products such as the Peugeot 3008, 5008 and Traveller MPV, it’s hard not to see why the brand is slowly but surely on the rise.
Its products have finally lost their quirkiness, become mainstream, and crucially, delivered what the global market demands, yet in the process, has strengthened the Peugeot DNA.
As Peugeot CEO Jean-Pierre Imparato said to members of the Philippine media over lunch at a Seine River cruise, “the French can do simple, inexpensive things beautifully.”
This fundamental belief is what guides Peugeot to deliver their new lineup of impressive mass-market vehicles that deliver a very unique, upmarket feel and ambiance, matched with top-level driving dynamics.
With a very long history in the highest echelons of motorsports (Formula 1, Le Mans, Touring Cars, WRC, Paris-Dakar, the list goes on), you know the French will never leave out or forget sheer driving pleasure from the equation.
And so it is with Peugeot’s latest 3008. The second generation vehicle, based on the group’s EMP2 platform shared with the larger 5008 SUV, upcoming Traveller MPV, and Opel’s Grandland-X MPV, is now a proper C-segment SUV instead of a left-field, oddball cross-over.
The new platform is 70 kg lighter, yet stronger and more rigid than its predecessor, thanks to extensive use of high-strength steel alloys, aluminum, and magnesium where applicable.
Peugeot has made great strides to improve overall build quality, reliability and in effect, desirability as it aims to propel the brand further upmarket, knocking at the doors of the premium European brands by offering similar build-quality, technology and driving dynamics, but remaining accessible to a discerning niche in the mass market segment.
It’s shaped like a proper SUV, has the ride-height of a proper cross-over SUV, and competes squarely against the likes of Toyota’s RAV4, Honda’s CR-V, Subaru’s Forester, and its ilk.
Power comes from a range of petrol and diesel engines in 1.2- and 1.6-petrol engines as well as 1.6- and 2.0-HDI diesel engines, all packing turbocharged power.
Drive comes by way of a 6-speed manual transmission and 6-speed automatics driving the front wheels exclusively.
In the future, there is the possibility of AWD, thanks to a hybrid-electric motor driving the rear axles. For now, though, the models are exclusively front-wheel drive.
The design is a fresh departure from older Peugeots: bold, daring and dynamic but resolutely and elegantly French, highlighting the use of modern LED lighting all around the car’s headlights and tail lights, with a bold and aggressive radiator grille that seemingly feeds cold air to the engine.
Inside, Peugeot has made great strides to improve the ambiance and interior architecture.
More soft-feeling plastics, matched with leather and other high-quality soft-feeling materials replace the old, hard and harsh plastics.
The instrument cluster now features Peugeot’s second-generation i-Cockpit, a large LCD screen with a variety of viewing modes similar to Audi’s VW Group’s virtual cockpit.
Indeed, the future of vehicle instrumentation is going towards this direction, replacing bulky, complicated mechanical devices in lieu of an all-electric and digital display.
Beautiful aluminum finish switchgear, inserts, and accents around the door handles and a/c vents liven up the inte rior further.
The seating position remains excellent, although the i-Cockpit’s steering column is lower than usual.
Peugeot’s advanced studies have revealed that a lower-set steering wheel actually improves comfort and eases movement over a long drive as opposed to a raised, motorsports-style steering wheel and column alignment.
Above the central HAVC vents is another LCD screen, this time measuring 8 inches that displays the vehicle’s multimedia infotainment settings such as audio/video, reverse camera, in-car trip computer, and other engine/vehicle parameters, plus of course a 3D-style GPS/SATNAV system, a first in its segment.
Apple CarPlay is standard as well as Android Auto, making mobile phone integration, regardless of platform, seamless and efficient.
And as a first for both French brands, Peugeot has teamed up with Focal to deliver high-definition surround sound system on GT line model variants, delivering a rich, soulful aural experience on the move.
Other options include a bird’s eye-view of the car while parking, making it easier to maneuver in tight spots, and a swing/kick of your foot underneath the rear tailgate to electronically open the rear hatch, allowing you to effortlessly unload your shopping bags without fumbling for keys in your bag or pockets.
A panoramic glass roof improves the night time experience by giving you a glimpse of the sky without opening you up to the elements.
It’s also a very safe car. The 3008 features Active Safe Braking, which brakes the car automatically, thanks to cameras that constantly monitor the road ahead for obstacles and obstructions.
Adaptive Cruise Control limits your distance to the vehicle ahead with a safe margin. There’s also the Peugeot Smart Beam, a system that automatically deploys high beam or low beam depending on incoming traffic and road lighting to allow you to see further ahead during night time driving.
Six airbags are standard on all models, and it scores five stars on revised and stricter Euro NCAP crash test ratings, scoring 85 percent on protection for children, and 86 percent on protection for adults, currently best in class with the revised test procedures.
Ultimately, the question that is on everyone’s mind is: How does it drive? In a word: beautifully.
Driving through Northern Italy through a selection of Italian Autostradas, B-roads, farm roads and even light off-road trails, the 3008 remained smooth, comfortable and composed.
The French know how to balance comfort and sport well, much more so than the Germans of late, and yet when you drop the hammer, the 3008 is a willing partner with excellent body control.
There’s prodigious amounts of grip even on broken tarmac; and on light off-road trails, the traction and stability control make you feel like a hero sliding it around some corners at a pace the French would be proud of.
The steering is admittedly light being a full-electric affair and could do with more feel, but feedback is decent and you build up a lot of confidence knowing that the steering responds faithfully during manic maneuvers.
This is all the more impressive given that our test unit, a top-end GT Line 2.0 HDI diesel rode on massive 19-inch wheels and all-weather Continental Tires measuring 235/50R19.
The engine is punchy at full throttle shifts, delivering an impressive 181 hp and a monstrous 400 Nm of torque while meeting the latest Euro VI emissions requirements where applicable.
It is smooth and quiet on the motorway, though, Peugeot having engineered more smoothness as well as better NVH isolation from both engine and road noise.
With the aforementioned 400 Nm of torque, the engine is flexible; no need to downshift, just gradually press the accelerator harder and the 3008 accelerates with vigor even in fourth gear all the way to how fast you’re willing to go.
On the highway, ride comfort is smooth and serene. You can easily drive all the way from Northern Italy to Southern Germany on a single tank of diesel fuel following the speed limit and arrive feeling fresh and ready for more adventures.
Interior space is very good, and there’s 520 liters of cargo space in the trunk with the rear seats up. Drop the 60:40 split-folding rear seats, and cargo space grows to a massive 1,580 liters.
With such a great car, Peugeot is more than ever ready to take on the global stage, shunning its quirky “because French” tagline mentality to deliver a truly global product that appeals to a far wider audience, yet remaining resolutely French chic.