Driven - Peugeot 3008 2.0 HDi XTE

In a completely new market sector for Peugeot, it's interesting that the first impression I got of when driving off in the 3008 was one of its high quality.

The door shuts nicely (it's a minor but telling thing), and the fit and finish - as well as the styling - of the interior is far better than expected. It's tastefully designed, and nicely finished, with more than a few features to keep you interested. The elevated driving position is complimented by a high centre console, with a grab-handle set on the passenger's side of the gear selector. A neat row of toggle switches sits at the top of the console - a bit reminiscent of new Minis without the gimmickiness.

The chrome surround to the instruments and air vents as well as a few other chrome highlights throughout the cabin work very effectively in adding to the luxurious feel. In the best French car tradition, the seats are very comfortable. The wonderful full-length glass roof helps make the the cabin feel spacious and was enjoyed especially on the wintry days of our test.

It's no thing of beauty. The styling may be a bit ungainly at the front - a range-wide problem for Peugeot which apparently has a fix on the way, but overall the shape is sleek for a crossover vehicle, accentuated by the vast, steeply raked windscreen.

There's a really solid feel to the drive. It's that feeling of quality again. It's not heftiness, but proper build quality. Some people doubt the French can ever meet German quality of construction, but if a car was going to be knocking on the door, this is it.

Our test car was the larger diesel engine version - with Euro5 level of emissions (which means it's cleaner than just about anything else on the road. At 120kW and 340Nm of torque, it gets along nicely, as mated to the 6-speed automatic transmission. It's not fast, but that's generally not what the buyer of a car like this is looking for. The ample torque means that even if it's loaded with a full family and all the gear they might take on a holiday, it will still pull well up hills on country roads.

There are a load of goodies to please every user, from secret cubby holes in the rear floor (under the floor mat) to the impressive head-up display (all cars should have this feature), it's well thought out. Other features include a vast cooled compartment between the seats, a removable, rechargeable torch in the boot, rear side sunblinds, distance alert, hill-hold and one-touch rear seat folding from the boot.
18-inch alloy wheels mean a tyre inflation kit, whereas the 17-inch wheel clad 3008s come with a full size steel spare wheel. A clever optional grip control system will be available soon as a concession to those who might occasionally want some off-road or poor surface capability.

The 3008 is not pretending to be a 4WD vehicle, but offers a very good alternative for people who want the size and elevated driving position but recognize that they don't need to kid themselves about going bush in their family wagon... How nice there's a good option. 3008 models start at $39,690 and include petrol and a smaller diesel engine options. If you're in the market for something like this - do go and have a look - you might be very pleasantly surprised.

Engine type: 1997cc 4-cylinder turbo-diesel
Power: 120kW
Torque: 340Nm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Price: From $47,490 at time of review
Text & photo - Paul Blank (copyright)