Test Drives

Peugeot 3008 review: What a jerk



 

The facelifted 3008 offers plenty of room and versatility, but it’s let down by one major flaw…

SINGAPORE — For the record, Peugeot hawks the 3008 as an SUV (or Sport Utility Vehicle), though if you’re planning on going off-road with this front-drive machine, you should probably go with friends who drive 4x4s and have them bring tow ropes along. To our eyes it’s a crossover, with a bit of MPV (or Multi Purpose Vehicle) in its genes.

But whatever you think of its morphology, a recent facelift has given us a reason to revisit the 3008.

As cosmetic tweaks go, the Peugeot has received the subtlest of revisions. A little more chrome has been set into the front grille, and the foglamps have a new housing that incorporate some LED daytime running lights, for those wintry days we have here when visibility plunges during snowstorms.

From some angles, the 3008 does manage to look chic, but most of the time it resembles a well-fed and happy guppy if you ask me.

Inside, the cabin vents have changed and there’s a stylish new passenger grab handle. Presumably it’s there for when you’re crossing rough terrain and your companion wants to brace himself. As a styling flourish, the grab handle is nice enough, but there’s a good chance you’ll be annoyed by how the whole dashboard creaks when someone yanks on it.

One thing the Peugeot offers that regular wagons don’t is the elevated driving position that an SUV provides. From the driver’s seat you’ll enjoy great visibility, and certainly enough forward vision to spot upcoming hazards before other road users.

The height doesn’t come at the expense of stability, too. In fact, the 3008 handles surprisingly nicely, with no trace of lurch or clumsiness through a series of corners. The steering isn’t quick nor particularly blessed with feedback, but the Peugeot passes the simple test we set for all cars when we assess their handling: drive it with vigour down a twisty road, and do you feel like doing it again? That’s a yes with this one.

What’s all the more surprising is that the ride quality isn’t awful, in spite of the Peugeot’s handling poise. If you peek under the rear you’ll see a low-cost twist beam suspension, too, so whomever runs the chassis department at Peugeot knows his work well.

For all that, the 3008’s main weakness is its drivetrain. On the one hand, this 1.6-litre e-HDi diesel is super-frugal, and offers a hybrid-like 4.2L/100km fuel consumption figure. And that’s for diesel, remember, which is cheaper than petrol. Even if you hot-foot it everywhere, diesels don’t seem as sensitive to thirst as petrol engines do when asked to go hard, so if you’re like most people you’ll probably end up refuelling twice a month with this car instead of once a week.

But don’t forget, AutoFrance has brought this model in because the recent changes to COE categorisation kicked Peugeot’s petrol models into Category B, and not because the 3008 has a superb drivetrain. It doesn’t.

The 3008’s e-HDI has lots of mid-range torque but it runs out of puff more quickly than a flabby emphysema patient. It’s decently perky when pulling from, say, 70km/h to 90km/h, but the pick-up from standstill is weak and the overtaking grunt, non-existent.

Yet, the biggest weakness is its single-clutch automated gearbox. That fails another simple test we have for transmissions, which is: can this gearbox do better than someone who just got out of driving school? Sadly, it can’t. It’s slow, jerky, and should be avoided if you’re prone to seasickness.

But the Peugeot does offer plenty of what a wagon is supposed to give you, which is storage and versatility. The rear seats can be folded down (with one hand) to raise boot space to 1,604 litres, and scattered throughout the cabin are deep storage bins and pockets that anyone would find useful. The loading tray in the boot is height-adjustable, and are even hidden compartments under the rear passengers’ floor area for… well, I’ll leave that to you to decide.

And though the rear seating isn’t particularly generous in size, there’s a panoramic glass roof that can help the cabin feel more airy and spacious.

Final thoughts? One has to be careful here because many decent, hardworking people make their living trying to sell these cars. At the same time, a larger number of people have to work just as hard to be able to buy a 3008, so here it is: the Peugeot is ultimately let down by a drivetrain that feels half engineered.

The diesel engine has a very narrow power band, and whomever gave the ‘OK’ to the gearbox at Peugeot HQ should be suspended immediately. By his thumbs.

Engine 1,560cc, 16V turbodiesel, inline 4
Power 115bhp at 3600rpm
Torque 270Nm at 1750rpm
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Top Speed 183km/h
0-100km/h 12.6 seconds
Fuel efficiency 4.2L/100km
CO2 110g/km
Price $140,900 with COE

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Leow Ju-Len
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