France is a country that is besotted with the idea of romance and beauty, when they are not being impolite to English speaking tourists, of course. They are a nation renowned for the City of Love and the world famous Louvre, housing some of the most priceless and beautiful artworks ever created. The products they produce embody the environment they are created in, such as the eternally stylish compositions from fashion moguls like Coco Chanel or industrial design heavyweights like Phillipe Starck. If you haven’t gotten the picture yet, France knows a thing or two about style.
So why are French brands often overlooked by consumers in the local automotive market? Peugeot for example is a brand that is no stranger to reigning supreme in Car of the Year competitions, the pre facelift 3008 itself being a former victor and the smaller 208 hatchback holding the current title in the B-segment. These recent accolades alone allude to a highly capable brand with an appetite to create and innovate. However, their creations lack the status of more premium marques and traditionally carry an exacerbated and unfair negative reputation for poor after-sales and maintenance.
Moving onto the Peugeot 3008 then, a car which I was most eager to get behind the wheel of as a result of my aesthete preference (I am fascinated by beautiful things). From the offset, it holds an attractive presence, sure it does not hold the high repute that its German rivals instill into pedestrians but copious amounts of chrome and overbearing grilles do not always mean more beautiful. I had a quick walk-around and realized this would shoot well from any angle, something that is not common when many affordable modern cars feature in front of my lens.
While this is the facelift of the already attractive second generation, both are far superior to the original blob shaped 3008 which was produced between 2008 and 2016. As with most evolutions, the recent iteration takes the cake. Other than a drastically reshaped front end and minor interior updates and infotainment improvements, nothing much has changed from its pre-facelift predecessor. It retains well proportioned SUV dimensions and manages to hold an aggressive stance – compliments of a headlight-integrated horizontal front grille while the rear light feature of the car successfully accentuates its width. A suitable mixture of chrome, gloss black and durable plastic trim line the extremities while LED lights illuminate the car in the dark, a feature which is arguably aligned to Peugeot’s updated feline corporate identity and logo.
Prospective buyers will be happy to know that the pièce de résistance of the 3008 lies in its sumptuous interior. In our top of the range GT-Line, the attractive exterior continues inside the cabin, drivers and passengers are met with a combination of plush materials, overlapping surfaces, subtle illumination and an elevated but comfortable seating position. Spaciousness is a strong selling point, with ample room for 5 adults and copious cabin storage, the boot can hold 520l too if the full size spare is ditched and the false floor is dropped to its lowest level.
Getting behind the wheel presents an experience of its own, the driver has no choice but to grip onto a small, low slung, octagonally shaped steering wheel which is positioned just below the dashboard mounted i-Cockpit. This combined with the angled infotainment screen and fighter-jet shaped dials cocoon the driver but once the excitement has subsided, the upright, elevated seating position reaffirms any anticipated expectations of its driving capability. This is only a Peugeot 3008, no matter how much it feels like the cockpit of the Concorde. Just like the front seat of the supersonic French airliner, the 3008 suffers from limited visibility; the sloping rear roofline creates a miniature rear orifice to glimpse out of and the thick A pillar, bulky side-mirror and tweeter intersect exactly where you need to see adjacent traffic from.
Improvements in the interior include a redesigned infotainment screen which implements a simple bottom ledge that assists in navigating the user interface while driving on uneven surfaces. The small and irregular shape of the steering wheel means that the stalks and cruise control dials are often concealed which makes immediate assimilation quite difficult. Where the 3008’s interior feels outdated is the front and rear cameras which lack clarity on the large 12.3” digital cluster however the standard-equipment PDC makes up for the shortcomings of the camera.
Despite its sporty interior features and aggressive styling, this is still a run of the mill Peugeot SUV which comes with satisfactory performance and handling for a vehicle of its stature. The body is firm in cornering and the motor feels sufficiently powered in day-to-day applications; albeit on the less economical side of the spectrum, returning 8.4l/100km in combined driving scenarios. The 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine is standard across all three derivatives in the range and is claimed to churn out a maximum of 121kW and 240Nm as low as 1400rpm. While it makes light work of overtaking on the open road, quickly accelerating the 1390kg mass from stationary seems like a laborious task.
The steering at slow speeds is firm while the brakes are responsive with good pedal feedback. Its 6-speed automatic transmission is sublime for sedate driving scenarios but can be lethargic in upshifting or when manually interacting with the small paddle shifters. This can be remedied in the sport mode which makes for slightly snappier gear changes and improved throttle response but I can confidently say that this is a far better suited as a comfortable cruiser. I did not have the courage to take this off-road, since it would look completely out of place but despite its solitary FWD layout, Peugeot claims that its Grip Control system can do most things a true 4WD can.
In typical French fashion, this C-SUV does come with as many quirks as it has standard features, but if you are style conscious and not status driven, the Peugeot 3008 is the one for you. Our fully equipped, top of the range GT-Line comes in at R644 900 and includes a 5 year/100 000km service plan and warranty but the more affordable Active derivative can be had from R514 900. This is a car that would look perfectly at home with the Louvre in the background or equally as natural trundling past some of our own beautiful, contemporary architecture. Most importantly, it will put a smile on your face everytime you manage a coup d’oeil of it!
The Peugeot 3008, a modern day French artwork