New on Peugeot’s vital new 3008 and 5008 SUVs ahead of local launch

Despite a long and illustrious history of selling cars in Australia since 1953, there is little doubt that French brand Peugeot is currently up against it. Its most recent great hope, the 308 hatchback, has failed to fire against established players like Toyota and Mazda, and Peugeot recently slashed nine 308 variants from the local roster.

Sales across Peugeot’s limited lineup are down by between 40 and 60 per cent to the end of June this year as the brand transitions to stewardship under new distributor Inchcape, and its range of SUVs – the market’s most popular segment – is ageing and underdone. That is set to change with the introduction of Peugeot’s pigeon pair of mid-sized SUVs, the 3008 and the 5008.

The new managing director of Peugeot Australia, Anouk Poelmann, acknowledged last week that the 3008/5008 pairing is the first step towards rebuilding the brand in Australia, but she declined to specify sales targets until after she addresses a dealer conference in August. “We would rather under-promise and over-deliver,” said Ms Poelmann, who officially takes up her new position in Australia next month.

The European success of the 3008 – launched in Europe in early 2016 – and the change of distributorship has meant a delayed release into the Australian market, where from August it will compete in the medium SUV segment against a raft of stiff competition, including Volkswagen’s Tiguan, the Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai’s Tucson. The local 3008 range will be offered in four variants, all in front-wheel-drive guise opening with the 121kW/240Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder Active starting at $39,990 driveaway.

The Allure and GT-Line will also use the 1.6-litre engine, while the rangetopping GT will use a 133kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder turbo-diesel. All four combine with a six-speed automatic from Aisin, with no manual option to be offered. Standard equipment across the line includes digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, dual-zone air-conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, automatic headlights/wipers, LED daytime running lamps, traffic sign recognition, 3D satellite navigation, electric heated door mirrors, induction charging (currently only for Android phones) and a leatherbound steering wheel.

 

The five-door, five-seat 3008 is built on a stretched version of Peugeot’s modular EMP2 chassis that also underpins the 308 hatch. At 4450mm long, the crossover is 100mm shorter than the category-leading CX-5. The 3008 does beat the CX-5 on luggage space, though, offering 520 litres versus 442L – however this figure may change depending on the height of the Australian-spec 3008’s floor. It can be raised or lowered depending on whether a full-size or space-saver spare is specified. The company says it has benchmarked the 3008 – and the similar but slightly larger 5008 seven-seater – on the Tiguan, which offers 615L of storage with the rear seats up and 1665L when down.

Local details on the 5008 are still scarce, as we will not actually be seeing it until early 2018. It is 190mm longer than the 3008, but other than that, it’s pretty much the same vehicle – and we’d wager that it’ll be offered in at least three trim levels in Australia. The second row of the 5008 offers three individual seats on runners, and a pair of seats fold flat into the floor in the rear section.

There is loads of room, too, with 952L of boot space with the third row folded and the second row slid forward, and 2150L with all seats down. Inside, the 3008 is clearly of the 308 mould, but the design has been taken to the next level. It’s strikingly different to its competition, with a complete revision of the centre console array, a tall central divide between the front seats and a deep cockpit feel to both front seats. Standard across the line is a 12.3-inch digital dash display, which complements an 8.0-inch central touchscreen with piano key-style buttons along the base of the screen. It’s simple, stylish and ergonomically very clever. The rest of the interior is similar in appearance, with contemporary finishes to the seats and door trim, while Peugeot’s i-Cockpit arrangement uses a tiny flat-topped steering wheel with the instrument binnacle positioned near the top of the tiller. While it suits taller drivers, the i-Cockpit is subject to the vagaries of humanity, and some people simply can’t get a good fit behind the wheel to properly view the instrument display. The seats are narrow and mounted quite high, but it’s still possible to get a good fit, and the small wheel is a delight to use.

 

The 3008 is at home in the city, and the six-speed auto works well with the fourpot turbo engine. It’s not noisy, either, and the cabin is quiet and comfortable. The ride can be a bit choppy at slow speeds over poor surfaces with the 18- inch wheels fitted to the Allure model we tested, but it improves with speed. Braking is a little abrupt at low speeds as well. The 5008 is – not surprisingly – very similar in its character, though the longer wheelbase and heavier diesel engine help to quell the low-speed choppiness to a degree. The adjustable second-row seating is a boon, but the third row is best suited to pre-teens. Both seats quickly and easily flip flat out of the way. Both engines are capable freeway operators, and the six-speed auto is sweet relief to those who’ve experienced the worst that Peugeot has had to offer in recent years.

The only way is up for Peugeot, and if the 3008 is what the company is hitching its wagon to, let the climbing begin

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