Flags French rev­o­lu­tion

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - JAMES WHITBOURN

A PER­FECT storm might be over­selling the sales fore­cast for Peu­geot’s new medium SUV, but it cer­tainly seems to line up enough fun­da­men­tals to give the brand a boost in Oz. As the ef­fec­tive re­place­ment for the Mit­subishi Out­lander-based 4007, the new 3008 is a con­ven­tional SUV rather than a hatch-de­rived crossover like its pre­de­ces­sor – the French quirks are in the de­tails.

The new 3008 is built on the ex­cel­lent EMP2 plat­form that un­der­pins the 308 hatch, to please buy­ers in Aus­tralia’s most pop­u­lar and crowded seg­ment, tar­get­ing the likes of the Mazda CX-5 and Volk­swa­gen Tiguan.

The fact Peu­geot is now han­dled by the Aus­tralian arm of global car re­tail­ing gi­ant Inch­cape – the op­er­a­tion be­hind the suc­cess of Subaru in Aus­tralia – also bodes well for a cor­re­spond­ing up­grade to the de­liv­ery of Peu­geot ser­vice and af­ter-sales sup­port.

Seated in­side, the avant-garde in­te­rior pre­sen­ta­tion in­stantly iden­ti­fies the 3008 as be­ing aimed at buy­ers with an eye for de­sign who are happy to em­brace non­con­for­mity: The so­phis­ti­cated mum’s fam­ily wagon?

There’s much to like about the flair and func­tion­al­ity of the cabin, with high­lights in­clud­ing neatly cloth/ leather trimmed seats – bol­stered to suit the slim up front – co­coon­ing high con­sole, cool mood-lit strips, pi­ano key short­cut but­tons, and a tablet­style 8.0-inch colour touch­screen.

There’s good legroom in the back, aided by a flat floor, and there are knee-level air vents and USB sock­ets, though the (op­tional) panoramic roof in­trudes into head­room. The 3008’s big cargo bay, at 520 litres, is about 15 per­cent big­ger than that of a CX-5.

A four-tiered range opens with a well-equipped Ac­tive ($ 36,990 plus on-roads, or $ 39,990 drive-away ini­tially), which pro­gresses to the Al­lure tested here ($ 39,490 plus on-roads), and there are Gt-line and GT ver­sions above. A six-speed au­to­matic with front-drive is stan­dard, and a 121kw/240nm 1.6-litre tur­bopetrol fea­tures in all ex­cept the GT (which we’re yet to drive), that gets a 133kw/400nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel of­fer­ing 4.8L/100km.

The 1.6 turbo gives the 3008 good flex­i­bil­ity, de­cent mid-range urge and a re­spectable 9.9sec 0-100km/ h claim. It teams well with the auto, and you can al­ways grab one of the pad­dles, which brings prompt shift ac­tion.

Head­line weight-savers in­clude a plas­tic tail­gate and boot floor, alu­minium front sus­pen­sion arms and guards, and the use of ul­tra-high-strength steel to see the 3008 100kg lighter than its MPV pre­de­ces­sor – mak­ing

it trim­mer than its key class­mates. The petrols are in small-hatch ter­ri­tory at 1371kg.

More kays and a full test of the line-up awaits, but it’s safe to say from the taut 18-inch-shod Al­lure that the GT’S 19s will be a bridge too far for com­fort. The 3008’s ride is slightly ag­i­tated un­less the road is glass-smooth, and it’s most no­tice­able sat out back over the tor­sion beam. The Ac­tive’s 17s may hold part of the so­lu­tion.

The 3008 feels light on its tyres, re­sponds swiftly to the wheel, rolls lit­tle, and pos­sesses pal­pa­ble bal­ance. Steer­ing feel is in­ert dur­ing ur­ban me­an­der­ing but there’s a glim­mer of con­nec­tion with the ad­di­tion of lock and load.

You can feel that this is a re­la­tion of the ter­rific 308, and the Peu­geot 3008’s smart SUV pack­ag­ing, Gal­lic point of dif­fer­ence, and rein­vig­o­rated dis­tri­bu­tion chain see it well placed to make the best of it.

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