Peugeot’s Latest SUV Is Weird Like A French Car & Luxurious Like A German One
In a world filled with bland cars, the new Peugeot 3008 is an eclectic yet fundamentally well-rounded vehicle that proves France can do luxury cars just as well as their German or British rivals.
For a long time, buying a French car in Australia was to make a bold sort of statement about yourself. Why? Well, unlike in Europe, French car brands can’t compete on price in Australia. At the same time, French cars have typically lacked the refinement, reliability or all-out performance credentials of cars from other European nations, such as Italy, Germany or the UK.
Therefore, the only reason you’d buy a French car as an Aussie was to make a style statement… And this is something French cars deliver in spades. French cars have always been a bit weird. There’s just something about the Gallic approach to car design where they’re more willing to experiment; offer quirky features.
Think about the Citroën C4 Cactus, with its anti-trolley ‘AirBump’ panels and upright glovebox; the Matra Murena with its single, three-abreast seating row (in a sports coupe!) or the bizarre rear end of the Renault Mégane II. French car designers revel in the strange and love taking risks.
The new Peugeot 3008 also follows in the grand tradition of funky French design – but in the best possible way. Even more surprising is that it gives you another reason to choose a French car: luxury. Indeed, we reckon this fun compact crossover is a proper luxury car, and one that really brings the fight to entrenched European luxury brands.
First of all, the car just looks great, especially the top-spec GT Sport model we drove, which features an exclusive black appearance package – you know how we feel about ‘peasant trim’. There’s no mistaking a 3008: Peugeot’s current angular design language is one of the best in the business and does much to elevate the brand. The sunburst-like, frameless grille design is a particular highlight.
The inside is even more striking. It’s like being on the inside of a piano – not only because there’s swathes of wood trim and piano black everywhere, but the piano key-like switchgear and instrument-like touches of chrome offer a truly luxurious driving experience. It feels and looks like a car from a prestige brand.
You’re always reminded that you’re driving a French car, but in a good way. The almost octagonal two-spoke steering wheel frames a small, Toyota Echo-style deep-set gauge cluster that displays speed and revs as rotating, angled cylinders. The gear shift has a fighter jet-like trigger design that’s a bit oddball. It’s weird, and that’s okay.
The 3008’s seats are also the most comfortable seats I’ve ever experienced in car other than an Aston Martin… But that’s a comparison we reckon Peugeot would be happy with.
What’s really striking is the fit and finish of the interior. I had a good old yank on everything, as I usually do with new cars, and nothing budged. Everything feels solid and purposeful, from the angular flappy paddles to the small yet effective infotainment system. French cars have never been known for their build quality so the 3008 is a real paradigm shift.
The engine and transmission are butter smooth, with the GT Sport’s turbocharged number a particular gem. Surprisingly peppy with a very linear power band and a beautiful engine note, I was surprised by how dynamic the driving experience was. Again, I had to remind myself – this isn’t a German car. It’s a French car.
Not all of the 3008’s weird French features are totally charming. The steering wheel is bizarrely small, for example. The cruise control module, which is mounted to the steering column, is easy to use once you get the hang of it, but there’s a steep learning curve – and the way it’s mounted means that the steering wheel obscures it during normal driving, meaning you can’t easily operate it on the road if you’re not familiar with it.
I also found out the hard way that if you open the door when you’re stationary but not in park, the car sets of sirens so shrill you’d think you were being targeted by a Russian nuke. Ah well. C’est la vie.
Peugeot are pricing the 3008 ahead of its chief rival, the Volkswagen Tiguan – a bold move. But we totally understand it, and think Peugeot are justified in doing so. While there’s much to be said about straight-laced Teutonic German car design, it comes up short in comparison to the fun yet luxe design of the 3008.
All in all, I was incredibly surprised by how refined the 3008 was. Peugeot, with this car, have finally stepped up to the level of a luxury car brand – and we’re totally here for it.
Find out more about the Peugeot 3008 range at Peugeot’s online dealership here.