Neither estate nor hot-hatch, the French manufacturer's small SUV offers crossover appeal, says Charlie Flindt - for those at home in an i-Cabin
The crossover market is a tricky one to stand out in. So the Peugeot 3008 GT has gone full gadget and gizmo. It’s a rather clever package, says Charlie Flindt – as long as one is comfortable in an i-Cockpit.
For more motoring reviews, find out what Charlie Flindt thought of Skoda’s latest offering in Skoda Octavia Scout.
PEUGEOT 3008 GT
Peugeot has never really recreated its glory days of the 1970s and ’80s, when huge estate cars ferried vast families around the country. Those magnificent 504/5 estates could soak up massive punishment in the harshest of environments – everything from the terror and mayhem of a primary school taxi run to the relative civility of rutted tracks in central Africa. And the French manufacturer never matched its reign as hot-hatch champion, when the 205GTi ruled the boy-racer roost. God knows, it’s tried, with “worthy successors” being launched every few years but none has recreated that 205 magic.
Perhaps Peugeot will make its mark with the new 3008, one of the company’s new “crossovers”. But the crossover car market is a mighty busy one and getting more crowded by the week. So Peugeot has decided – rightly or wrongly – that the best way to stand out in that market is to go full wacky gadget and gizmo.
Mind you, you wouldn’t guess it from the outside. Yes, the front looks as though it has been designed by committee but the rest is pleasant on the eye, especially the rear with its clever light arrangement and snazzy exhaust pipes.
Inside is where the surfeit of gizmos begins. The traditional dashboard has gone and an LCD screen sits cleverly above the top rim of the scaled-down and not particularly round steering wheel. The whole driving environment has gone “cockpit”, with the central tunnel wrapping around you. To ensure its appeal to Millennials, Peugeot has called it (probably after much research and focus groups) the i-Cockpit.
We shouldn’t mock the Millennials; for all the stick we give them, they’re the only ones qualified to break into the options menu and somehow restore something normal to the LCD dashboard.
Having road speed and rpm displayed on fancy rotating virtual reels is all very well (and perhaps a nod back to the early Citroën GS) but I still like a nice dial and a needle – especially an anticlockwise tacho that can be found on the 3008 screen, if, of course, you find the right settings. Which I didn’t.
The 3008’s best tricks are hidden away under the bonnet. If you were to jump straight in and drive it without any homework, you wouldn’t believe that the 3008 has only a 1.2 litre, three-cylinder engine. It feels lively and quite powerful enough for what is not a small car; it even makes fantastic rorty noises at about 4,000rpm. Performance isn’t stunning and economy is fine but the fun factor is certainly there. It rides and corners with great confidence.
In fact, the whole 3008 package is rather clever. There’s an inner car, almost like a go-cart – or (dare one say it) a GTi – with a fantastic buzzy engine and tiny steering wheel, fun and satisfying to drive. The outer car is a roomy and versatile people carrier –not as roomy as the legendary 504/5 estates of old, but spacious nonetheless.
The 3008 will undoubtedly do very well for Peugeot over here but I’d hate to see that fancy i-Cockpit once Saharan sand has blown into it.
PEUGEOT 3008 GT Line PT 130
♦ Engine: 1,199cc petrol
♦ Power: 131hp
♦ Max speed: 117mph
♦ Performance, 0 to 62: 10.8 sec
♦ Combined fuel economy: 52.3mpg
♦ Insurance group (0-20): 13E
♦ Price: £26,195