By Mark Nichol
So you’re looking for a big family car that’s shaped like an SUV? You’re far from alone. The crossover-SUV genre is so popular now that you’ve got more options than a Beatles tribute act writing a short setlist. So we’ve brought together 2 great family crossovers with quite opposing characteristics – both ends of the spectrum. In the French corner, the Peugeot 3008, which has a genuine claim to being the most interestingly styled family car on the market, as well as the most fun to drive. And in the Anglo-Chinese corner, the MG HS, a highly sensible crossover that offers virtually unrivalled value, loads of standard equipment, masses of space, and a comforting quality on par with listening to ‘Hey Jude’ on repeat. So, 2 very different approaches. Let’s see which is better for you…
This is where the ‘opposing characteristics’ thing begins, because where the HS is conservatively styled and doesn’t necessarily draw the eye – albeit it’s a handsome and well-proportioned car – the 3008 is awash with detail and quirkiness. Launched in 2016, this latest 3008 was technically the first Peugeot with the company’s now widespread ‘i-Cockpit’ set-up, which is characterised by an unusual small steering wheel with the instrument panel perched above it. Sounds simple, but it makes for a highly unusual driving experience – and without sacrificing basic comfort. In 2020 the car was refreshed and given one of the more transformative midlife design updates you’ll see, especially at the front end. It made a car that was already one of the most squat and unusual crossovers on the market even more striking. It's also available in 7 different paints with various interior choices as well, you can see these in detail in our Peugeot 3008 colour guide.
If visual idiosyncrasy is the defining feature of the 3008, inside and out, the MG goes a different way. It’s a restrained design in every area, which will appeal to those looking for less ostentatious family transport. The cabin is a quite simple affair, with most of the functions moved onto a central touchscreen – which can occasionally frustrate but generally works well. You can find out more in our in-depth MG HS review.
Overall though, the MG interior feels designed with an old-school charm, using lots of soft-touch surfaces and with a conventional, high-set SUV-style driving position. In fact, that’s really where these 2 cars differ most: in the 3008 you sink into a driver-focused cabin with a tiny steering wheel and an array of unusual switchgear around you, whereas you’re perched up in the HS, with a greater sense of space and better all-around visibility.
You can look at each of these cars and probably make a fairly accurate judgement of what their particular driving characteristics are, and how they differ. The MG HS is one of the softest-riding crossovers on the market, whose controls are all designed to be light and relaxing. The steering rack, gearshift action (in a manual) and pedals are all extremely non-resistant and, again, a lofty driving position makes it very easy to place on the road and park, despite being a pretty bulky thing.
By contrast, the 3008 arguably feels as close to a sports car as any SUV-type-thing possibly could, this side of a Lamborghini Urus Or Aston Martin DBX. That’s not to put the Peugeot into that super-SUV category generally, of course, but just to say that it feels far more involving to drive than a chunky family car should. It’s brilliant fun. That’s a trick of both the driving position and the chassis itself. On the former, the small wheel, raised gear stick and cocooning cockpit give it an almost go-karty feel, with a sharp turn-in, weighty steering and quite hefty pedals. That’s matched to a chassis with loads of front-end grip, good body control around corners, and a surprising amount of nuance through the wheels. Despite that, the 3008 rides smoothly, so it’s comfy over longer distances. That’s a hard balance to get right, but Peugeot has nailed it here.
Engine-wise the 3008 offers a broader choice than the HS, the latter basically coming with a sole 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine either on its own or linked to an electric motor in the plug-in hybrid version. MG’s petrol engine is perfectly okay, but it’s not the most refined or economical, a little noisy when pushed hard, and it officially returns economy in the mid-30s whether equipped with a manual gearbox or an automatic. By contrast, the 3008 has a choice of 1.2- or 1.6-litre turbo petrol engines, both of which are smoother than the MG’s and more economical, the former returning 48mpg officially and the latter 43. The availability of a 58mpg diesel in the 3008 is an advantage for those doing lots of motorway miles, too. That said, both the HS and the 3008 come with tax-efficient plug-in hybrid options, more on which shortly.
Which Is More Practical?
Despite its sportier vibes, the 3008 has a significantly larger boot than the HS: 520 litres compared to 463. Still, both are quantifiably big and more than enough for a family of 4 or 5. The 3008 has a slightly more flexible cargo bay though, on account of a standard ski hatch that allows loading of long, thin items without dropping the rear bench. Both, however, have a little underfloor storage under the boot floor, a 60/40 split-folding rear bench, and a cargo bay that lies flat when the rear seats are folded down.
Both will seat 5, although the middle rear passenger will feel a little pinched because – unlike in the bigger Peugeot 5008, say – neither has a full-sized rear-middle seat. However, because the HS has a bit more distance between the front and rear wheels (the wheelbase) it has that bit more knee room at the back, and it’s taller than the 3008 too, so headroom is better; if it’s outright cabin space you’re after, the HS will suit you a little better than the 3008.
The HS offers a little more flexibility up at the front of the cabin, too. Its glovebox is larger (the 3008 has a tiny one, in common with most right-hand-drive Peugeots) and its door pockets are deeper. Both cars offer a decent amount of storage space under the central armrest, though.
Running Cost Comparison
Value is the area where the HS really shines, regardless of what you put it up against. Pretty much nothing this side of a Dacia Jogger gives you the amount of space-per-pound as the MG. The HS has a starting price of around £23,000 whereas the 3008 begins at £31,000, so it follows that monthly leasing costs fall in the MG’s favour. Deals on the HS begin at around £270 per month, while a 3008 begins at closer to £350. That’s excellent value in both cases, especially considering how special the 3008 feels inside and out, but given how much standard equipment the HS has, it’s genuinely surprisingly cheap. A base model HS (called Excite) and a base model 3008 (called Active Premium) come with a very similar equipment list as standard – both featuring alloy wheels, a digital instrument panel, smartphone connectivity, touchscreen infotainment and parking sensors – so it’s not fair to say that the HS is scrimping on this stuff in order to lower the price.
Some of the 3008’s higher up-front costs are balanced out with fuel economy, though, because again, you’ll see better fuel returns from a 3008 than you will from an HS. Particularly if you choose a diesel, which isn’t possible in an HS.
Electric And Hybrid Versions
Both come with plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) options, which are the way to go if you’re a company-car driver looking for tax breaks or just want the best fuel returns possible over shorter journeys. The MG has 1 on offer, and again it’s a remarkably well-priced one, listing at £31,000. You can add £6,000 to that for the lower powered of Peugeot’s 2 available plug-in hybrids – a 225hp model with a single electric motor and a higher-performing 300hp version with twin electric motors and 4-wheel drive.
The 3008’s PHEV mpg ratings are 157.2- and 166.2mpg respectively, whereas MG quotes 155mpg for the HS. Whichever you choose you’ll be able to get around 30 miles of pure electric driving, meaning that if your commute is short you can in theory use very little fuel indeed on a day-to-day basis.
MG HS: 7/10
Peugeot 3008: 9/10
While the MG HS is a very appealing large family car beyond just being cheap – it’s more spacious than the 3008, well-equipped, has a high-quality cabin and is genuinely relaxing to drive – we just can’t put it ahead of the Peugeot. Frankly, there are very few crossover-SUVs of this size and price that match the 3008. It’s phenomenal to drive, a truly interesting piece of design inside and out, and easily big enough for family duties.
Take the winner for a ride with our Peugeot 3008 deals, or check out more of our handy car leasing guides to help you find your next perfect lease.