By Mark Nichol
What Is It?
Probably the best family crossover on the market, which is remarkable given where the Peugeot 3008 came from. This car’s predecessor, the 1st-gen 3008, was an ungainly 5-seat family wagon that combined the qualities of an MPV and a crossover SUV, sort of making it the world’s first (and only, as far as we’re aware) crossover-crossover.
But what a transformation this version is. Launched in 2016, the current 3008 kickstarted a design revolution for Peugeot, most notably with its innovative (but questionably named) i-Cockpit. Building on the basic ergonomics of the 308 launched a few years earlier, which focused on an unusually small steering wheel with the instrument binnacle placed above the rim, i-Cockpit adds a fully digital instrument display and a more ‘driver-focused’, multilayered and textured dash design that’s now used on virtually everything Peugeot does. It’s a novelty but it’s one that works well. And in the 3008, Peugeot has a crossover that’s conventionally excellent in almost every other way.
What’s Good About It?
The cabin is the most impressive thing about the 3008 because it blends modernity, idiosyncrasy and basic comfort apparently effortlessly. The i-Cockpit set-up has a Germanic solidity about it, and it also manages to inject some genuine excitement into a segment that, let’s be honest, isn’t awash with character.
The most important thing any crossover can do is get the basics of being a family car right, of course: it needs to have plenty of cabin space, a big boot, general flexibility and reasonable running costs. The 3008 does that, and some. It’s a little bigger than the average crossover, a little longer between the wheels than a Nissan Qashqai, say, but not so much that you’ll really notice on the road. It’s not difficult to park, in other words. In addition, the 3008 is actually good to drive, defying both its proportions and its market segment in being a dynamic experience that’s genuinely entertaining. This is relative, of course. It’s a quite tall car with some pitch and roll built into it for comfort, but you’ll be surprised how much ‘feel’ the 3008 sends your way through the wheels.
What Could Be Better?
Peugeot still can’t seem to nail the infotainment thing, quite. The touchscreen doesn’t have the most intuitive software on the market. There is a row of ‘piano key’ shortcut buttons beneath the base of it, which means you can always find the top menu you’re after, but the fundamental issue is that you always have to look at the screen to perform a basic function like adjusting the temperature or changing a radio station. There is a classic volume knob, at least. Classic as in ‘typical’. We’re ambivalent towards the knob itself.
Taller drivers might find it a little more difficult to get on board with the low-set steering wheel and the relatively low interior roofline, especially when a sunroof is fitted. And the shallow glasshouse, especially the rear screen, makes backwards visibility a little compromised, which makes reverse parking that little bit more difficult.
What’s It Like To Drive?
The 3008 has that something you very rarely find in a crossover: proper driver enjoyment. It generally feels opposed to the sort of character that you expect an SUV to have, which is to say completely lacking in feel and softer than the plot of a made-for-TV movie. At higher speeds the car does lollop a bit more than a standard family hatchback would, but it’s generally much more ‘hatchback-like’ than ‘SUV-like’ to drive. The steering is light but the rack itself, the turn-in, feels a little quicker than the average SUV’s, and the body control is good without shaking you up like a Nutribullet.
And yet it’s also good at the day-to-day stuff. It’s quiet, generally, and it’s basically comfortable. It just feels like a high-quality product in the way it shuts out wind and tyre noise, and in the extent to which Peugeot has muted the engines when they’re at lower load.
A huge part of the appeal is the way that the 3008 actually sits you into the cabin. Despite how bulky the car is, the small steering wheel brings with it the sense of piloting a go-kart. Obviously that statement is in no way indicative of the 3008’s dynamic ability, but rather the feeling of the driving position itself. One little detail you’ll notice is that the high-set centre console puts the gearstick really close to the steering wheel, which is a hallmark of a good sports car and, again, not something you’d expect to find in a family crossover.
A 2020 update did nothing to alter the basic mechanics or feel of the thing, but Peugeot did drop the higher-powered 180hp BlueHDi 2.0-litre diesel – no great loss really because it was noticeably nosier than the 1.5-litre diesel and didn’t feel that much quicker – as well as adding a couple of hybrids. A wise move, because private buyers were always much better served with the small diesel or the 1.2-litre PureTech turbo petrol, while company car drivers will get huge tax breaks from the hybrids. As pleasant as both petrols are – there’s a 1.6-litre turbo with 181hp too – most drivers will probably find that the nature of the diesel suits the 3008 best. With 300Nm of torque, compared to 230Nm in the 1.2-litre petrol, it feels that bit stronger at low revs, giving the car that extra feeling of bite and flexibility around town.
How Practical Is It?
The 3008 doesn’t break any boundaries in the segment but it does feel like one of the more practical models. Those looking for outright practicality really should consider a 5008, which feels very similar from the driver’s chair but adds 7-seat flexibility, a much larger boot and, vitally, a proper-sized chair for the middle-rear passenger. The 5008 will accommodate 3 child seats in the back, whereas virtually all family crossovers (3008 included) will not. The Citroen C5 Aircross, which is built on the same platform as this, is a rare exception.
At 520-1482 litres when powered by a conventional combustion engine (the hybrids lose boot space to accommodate battery packs), the 3008 has one of the larger boots in the segment with the rear seats up, but compare that to 430-1598 litres in the Nissan Qashqai and 506-1620 in the Mazda CX-5 and you’ll see that with the seats folded it loses out a little. That’s likely because of its ‘sporty’ styling, which gives it a quite low roofline.
Still, the 3008 is a flexible enough space, with a twin boot floor, a flat loading bay, a reasonable-sized centre console storage box and space enough for a spare wheel beneath the luggage compartment. However, as usual for right-hand-drive Peugeots, the glovebox is largely blanked off and the remaining space is miniscule. Vexing.
How Much Will It Cost Me?
Because Peugeot has priced the 3008 competitively and given even the base model, called Active Premium in the UK, a lot of standard kit, it feels like a great value family car. The i-Cockpit is standard, meaning all cars get a fully digital instrument display (usually optional in this segment), an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment set-up including Apple Carplay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera.
Running costs are very reasonable too, with the 1.5-litre diesel returning 57.8mpg (around 50mpg in real life, then) and the 1.2-litre petrol 48mpg officially, meaning about 40mpg in reality. A 1.6-litre turbo petrol returns 43.3mpg equipped with the 8-speed EAT8 automatic. A very pleasant, smooth shifting automatic it is, too.
Obviously the best fuel returns come from the hybrids, of which there are two, a 225 with just the one electric motor and that amount of horsepower, and a 300 with an additional electric motor on the rear axle, giving it four-wheel drive and an amount of horsepower you can guess. Their mpg ratings are 157.2mpg and 166.2mpg respectively, with Peugeot quoting around 40 miles electric-only range from each. The reality is that the range will be roughly half that. Of course, the CO2 emissions ratings (41g/km and 39g/km respectively) mean they’re highly tax efficient for company-car drivers, but as with all these things, once the battery drains then they do become quite heavy, inefficient petrol cars, basically. Take those mpg ratings with a massive handful of salt.
Anything Else I Should Know?
The 3008 was crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2017 for a 5-star score, which it shares with the 5008 because they’re both structurally the same from the B-pillars forward. Its 86% and 85% ratings for adult and child occupancy are especially high and very welcoming for a family buyer.
In late 2020, the 3008 was facelifted to incorporate Peugeot’s ‘tiger fang’ front end which includes vertical LED light strips flanking a frameless grille. It makes what was already a striking car even more so, and while there were no mechanical changes, it did bring a bigger 10-inch touchscreen to Allure models and upwards, and LED headlamps to all models.
What Alternatives Should I Look At?
Skoda’s family crossover isn’t as interesting nor good to drive as the Peugeot, but its infotainment is better. It’s far less ‘out there’ too.
More conventionally comfortable (softer, that is), far more rear leg space and a proper 5th seat. And as quirky as the 3008, in its own way.
Noticeably more legroom, a much bigger boot, 7 seats and 9/10ths of the driving experience of the 3008.
Three Things To Remember About The Peugeot 3008:
The most fun family crossover to drive
The most interesting cabin of any family crossover
Infotainment is still a bit on the ropey side