Supercar or drag queen?
Peugeot finally enters the market for cars that are somewhere between an off-roader and Mom’s taxi.
The car industry is forever inventing new terms for new developments, and one of the recent additions is the “crossover vehicle”, which falls somewhere between Mom’s taxi and Dad’s gas-guzzling off-roader – a car that drives comfortably in town, but won’t get stuck on the first middelmannetjie. Something like the Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan, Daihatsu Terios or Suzuki Vitara. Peugeot says its first attempt at a crossover vehicle sits at the meeting place of the SUV, MPV and family hatch.
The 3008 was introduced in Europe about a year ago and has already won the sought-after What Car? Car of the Year title in the UK.
What do you get for your bucks?
A wonderfully spacious five-seater, with enough luggage space for a family holiday. You can pick one of three nippy engines: a 1.6-litre petrol, 1.6-litre turbo petrol and a 2.0- litre turbodiesel. The latter two can take you past 200 km/h if you’re a risk-taker. This Peugeot is made for gravel roads. It has a bunch of driving aids, of which the most important is electronic stability control (ESP), which is remarkably effective in correcting a skid.
What does the interior look like?
You feel safe and sound in the driver’s seat, surrounded by the flowing lines of the dashboard
and the centre console, which goes underneath the driver’s left arm and ends in a cooled
compartment, big enough for two six-packs of Coke and a bag of apples. Rear passengers have
compartments in the floor for colouring books and toys.
The cabin feels luxurious and durable. The flagship model, the Executive, has luxuries you don’t expect in this class of vehicle, such as leather seats, heated front seats, a full-length glass roof and “heads-up display”, which projects information such as speed on the windscreen so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. The glass roof (Cielo roof) in the flagship model probably makes sense in Europe, but if you’re driving through the Karoo in summer, you’re going to get hot. Luckily it has an electric blind. But if the mountain bike falls off its rack in the garage, it’s going to cost you close to R20 000 to fix the roof.
How much can you load in the back?
The split tailgate makes it easy to load stuff. In the back there’s a divider that works like a fake bottom. You can put it flush with the floor to use all the loading space; in a low position so 25% of the luggage space is hidden (a good hiding place for your camera and GPS when you go shopping); or slide it in level with the top of the lower half of the tailgate so you have a splitlevel luggage compartment. You can also easily fold flat the back seats, and if you buy a very tall mini windmill on holiday, you can even fold the back rest of the front passenger seat flat.
And the exterior?
She’s a little chubby (to make space for that boot and good rear legroom), but she’s the kind of girl who wears an elegant trouser suit (perhaps even one by Errol Arendz). What immediately strikes you is that Peugeot breaks away from the distinctive shark nose to a grille that looks more like Hannibal Lecter’s mask. No, it’s not quite that bad, but the grille could make good burglar proofing. Apparently the idea is to give it more of an off-road personality…
What’s under the bonnet?
The cheapest model is the 1.6 Vti, with an ordinary 1.6-litre petrol engine (88 kW and 160 Nm). Then you get the 1.6 THP, which has a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine (115 kW and 240 Nm) and the 2.0 HDi,
which has a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine (110 kW and 340 Nm). Both turbos are a pleasure to drive.
What do all the fancy things mean?
Peugeot has tried to build a front-wheel drive car that can do nearly the same on gravel roads as standard soft 4x4s such as the Hyundai Tuscon and VW Tiguan, at about 60% of the price. For R2 000 extra on the two top models you can get traction control adjustable according to specific terrain standard, snow, all terrain and sand.
Is it light on fuel?
Peugeot claims fuel consumption of 5,7 ℓ/100 km for the diesel and 7,1 ℓ/100 km for the petrol model. I’d take those figures with a pinch of salt.
What do you like?
It’s a comfortable, safe and spacious family car. The attention to detail is typically French. For instance, the light in the boot is a removable torch. It also has an automatic handbrake.
Anything that bugs you?
Not much. However, as with other French car manufacturers, I’m worried about the quality and cost
of service in South Africa. You just hear too many stories of people who wait weeks for horrendously expensive parts. Peugeot says the problems have been solved. We’ll see.
Which competitors should be worried?
The 1.6 Vti costs R248 500, the 1.6 THP and 2.0 Hdi Premium R282 000, and the Executive model, with the glass roof, leather seats and seat warmers, R305 400. By comparison, the Nissan
Qashqai 2.0 Acenta (4x2) costs R281 000 and the cheapest Volkswagen Tiguan, the 2.0 TDI
(diesel), R386 900.
I got a chance to drive up a Kalahari dune on the sand setting. It works similarly to a diff lock – power is sent to both wheels the moment the driving wheels slip. It also allows the wheels to slip a bit more so the car keeps its momentum in the sand and can progress a bit further. The result isn’t dramatically better than without traction control – you’ll get about 10 metres further before the car
digs itself in. If you choose the traction control option, the car comes with Michelin Latitude Tour HP Mud & Snow 215/60 R16 tyres.
(Note: Prices accurate in April 2010)
Engine: 1598cc four-cylinder turbo petrol and 1997cc turbo diesel
Performance: 115kW/240Nm and 110kW /340Nm
CO2 Emmisons: 167g cO2/km and 146g cO2/km
Tank Capacity: 60 litres
Fuel Consumption: 7,1ℓ/100km and 5,7ℓ/100km
Tank Range: 840km and 1050km
Price: R248500 (1.6 Vti)
R282000 (2.0 hdi Premium)
(Note: Prices accurate in April 2010)