A mate of mine had one of those old french MPVs once. It was beige and that’s about all I can tell you about it. Since then, my appreciation for those kinds of cars has increased, but I can’t for the life of me remember anything more about that multi-person-Peugeot.
Inside? Also beige. And the abundance of plastics squeaked.
Eventually, Peugeot realised that despite these cars being pretty useful, the market doesn’t want useful. It wants Range Rovers. So the old MPVs were put outside, curled up in the dog house, and Peugeot started building something that would sell. I’ve got my hands on the 3008, the automaker’s mid-size SUV, and after driving it for a week, I completely understand why I’m now seeing them every which way. Peugeot hasn’t just made an SUV, it’s raised its bar by several notches.
If I didn’t recognise the weirdly small steering wheel of modern Pugs, I’d have thought I was sat in something a bit more ‘upmarket’. The seating was soft brown leather like a Jag, the standard 12.3in driver’s screen reminded me of an Audi, and I could choose from three different cabins scents just like a Merc S-Class. There’s a bit of cheap plastic around the dash, but the cabin stretches and curves around the driver. I’m the one in control of this machine, and I feel all the better for it.
The experience only grows more exquisite as you start driving. It’s smooth, and the damping is more controlled than its Citron C3 Aircross doppelganger. The automatic gearbox silently rows through its six gears, and the petrol engine, while not overly potent at only 178bhp, is quieter than you expect. And that’s good, because it means you can turn on the adaptive cruise control and enjoy the heated and massaging seats with a degree of peace.
The steering is much more direct than you’d expect from an SUV, and that’s partly down to the miniature, and actually quite sporty looking wheel. It gives this car a sense of agility, and its impressive damping only boosts your confidence further. For a motor of this nature, I didn’t expect to enjoy it slicing through a fast corner, but that’s down to its low weight. I don’t know how Peugeot managed it, but this thing only weighs 1325kg.
I count myself a convert, then. I’d happily drive the 3008 despite not really enjoying the idea of owning an SUV over the likes of an estate, but I can barely fault Peugeot’s jump into this market. What I don’t like is the lack of physical controls for the heating. That gets very annoying. And I feel as though it should be all-wheel-drive, when in fact it’s only the front wheels that are powered – although an optional Grip Control system will see off any treacherous looking terrain.
So, what’s the deal then? Er, buy one. Seriously. RRP starts at £26,905, and I honestly can’t think of a better family SUV for this price range. It’s precise, comfortable, and spacious. But above everything else, it looks just as expensive as a Range Rover, and that’s what everyone wants at the moment.