Show, lacks go
as the polarising 3008 peoplemover/crossover.
To earn its five-star rating, the Pug has seven airbags, a wellcalibrated ABS and traction/ stability control, hill holder, rear parking sensors and reversing camera.
The ABS is sharp but the stability control is buried pretty deep— it doesn’t dull all engine power delivery for seconds after coming on either — and these are all good attributes in off-road applications.
There is a full-size spare, though the 16-inch steel wheel is rated to 80km/h in the 18-inch shod cars.
Given those 18-inch rims, firmer spring and damper rates and recalibrated ABS and steering, we were a touch sceptical when turning off the beaten track and on to potholed, corrugated dirt roads south of Sydney on the local launch earlier this week.
Only a few years ago, one wouldn’t dream of taking an 18-inch-shod softie on unsealed roads covered in potholes and cut up by causeways. But surprisingly, the car is quite deft both on and off the road and capable of more speed than its buyers typicallywould use, provided you set it up and balance it for each corner.
Body control is admirable. The steering is a little artificial in its speed detection yet it is easy to drive if you steer it smoothly without any sudden jerky moves.
The paddle-shifters on the CVT are easy to use and the manual has a nice throw and seems well-geared.
In fact, the limiting factor to its cornering dynamics seems to be the all-terrain tyres. They’re simply not bitey enough on the hard-packed dirt with a layer of dust, and tend to give up a little at the front in faster corners. The trade-off on tarmac is a tendency is to push incrementally, not squeal or fold under, and the 225/55 rubber is enough to absorb the hits without shaking the fillings from your teeth.
The ride and handling are a pleasant surprise but the drivetrain is disappointing in contrast. Neither the manual nor the CVT can hide the obvious deficiency in the torque, which leaves the car slowly building speed, brick by boring brick, until it climbs over the 3500rpm wall.
It acquits itself well once the wheels are rolling but in this era of turbocharged small fours and excellent diesels with mounds of low-down torque, the conventional 2.0-litre with a relatively peaky power and torque band (110kw at 6000rpm, and 197Nm at 4000rpm) is frustratingly weak from rest or on steep inclines.
Add four passengers (as is this car’s demographic) and some luggage to its 1375kg1470kg kerb weight, and your ears will no doubt fill with the whine from engine and gearbox alike as they nab power from the peak, and no extra Pug padding in the uprated cabin will stifle it. You CVT or 5-speed man; 2Wdor on-demandawd
7.7-8.1L/100 (claimed) also could expect double-figure fuel use.
A solid SUV with decent spec and a distinctive look. It’s no revolution, French or otherwise, in the compact SUV segment but a diesel auto would be— will be— a different story.
French essence: Peugeot puts its stamp on the — fornow— petrol-only 4008