The compact crossover segment is getting pretty crowded with vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-30, VW Tiguan, and MG RX5 all vying for a piece of the pie. While they all have their own unique selling proposition, how many of them truly looked and felt as different as they claimed?
Peugeot’s alternative is one that doesn’t have any headline-grabbing claims, but if you dare to take it on a test drive, it will definitely stand out in your mind.
The French automaker wants you to consider their 3008 Active. If the name sounds familiar but the looks don’t, it’s because the first generation looks very different. It was an oddly shaped crossover, looking more like a seven-seater MPV, but confusingly only managed to seat five. Nonetheless, it was a surprisingly good car, blessed with an efficient diesel engine, an interesting manu-matic transmission and really good ride and handling.
Launched just two years ago, this new generation takes on a more definitive crossover look, making it easier to understand what this severely underrated car offers.
With a lion for a badge, it should come as no surprise that there are a lot of feline-inspired design touches. The grill resembles the lion’s nose while the headlights feature fangs cutting into their shape. Foglamps are mounted high up on the body, making sure no water enters the housing if you decide to cross a flood. At the very bottom is a silver bash plate that’s so pretty, you don’t really want to bash it.
Towards the side, it boasts of a profile like a sport wagon, albeit much higher up off the ground. It features blacked-out pillars to give the roof a floating look while large wheels give it some presence on the road. A broad chrome strip on the bottom separates the rocker panels from the painted body.
Behind is a simple black bar stretching across the tailgate. The lion theme continues with claw marks cut out to serve as the LED taillights. On the bottom, two integrated exhaust pipes give it a high-end sporty look, much like other European sport sedans.
Quirky but functional interior
The impressive exterior is paired with a beautifully minimalist interior. Rather than a dizzying array of buttons, Peugeot has carefully segmented the interior functions. The high-mount LCD screen in front of the driver, called the i-Cockpit is designed to make the instruments easier for the driver to read, being higher up and further forward. It’s paired with a hexagonally shaped wheel. The dashboard that seemingly wraps around the driver makes it feel like one is piloting a space ship more than an SUV.
On the center is a large touchscreen LCD screen for entertainment, climate and other options. Below the air con vents are the “piano keys” that control these functions. There’s another set below them for heating and circulation.
Lower on the glossy center console are the engine start button, the ergonomically shaped transmission stick and electronic handbrake. Just ahead of them, deeper into the console, is a wireless charging surface (do NOT put coins there). There’s also the Advanced Grip Control knob which comes with settings to allow the car to manage various kinds of terrain.
The rear offers proper room for adult passengers. It’s quite comfy thanks to the gently reclined seats. The rear cargo area boasts of 520 liters of space, which can be tripled to 1,580 liters by folding the rear seats. There’s lots of tools to help organize your cargo; from little cubby holes to a movable cargo floor. Even the tools are organized neatly in a little compartment in the center of the spare tire.
All this is pulled along by a 1.6-liter turbo petrol engine that makes 165 PS and 240 Nm of torque. It’s paired to a six-speed automatic that drives the front wheels. Even if it’s just a front-wheel drive, the Advanced Grip Control knob and terrain presets are still quite functional and will easily handle any light excursions off-road if need be.
Design and specs aside, the real treat to the 3008 is the drive. The vehicle is extremely quiet and easily one of the most pleasant to drive in its segment. The ride is soft but not floaty like an American car; just the right amount of comfort over bumps without sacrificing stability.
The hexagonal wheel may look gimmicky but it is very comfortable and light. It’s suitable for every driving situation. In fact, its even easier to grip and turn than a conventional wheel when parking in tight spaces.
A 1.6-liter engine may seem too small for an SUV of this size, yet the turbo easily makes up for it. It rockets the car up to speed faster than you expect. When driven leisurely, it’s also surprisingly smooth, with no turbo surge when in crawling traffic. There’s hardly any turbo penalty in fuel consumption. The 3008 will easily return 9 km/l in the city in heavy traffic or as high as 16 km/l on the highway.
The automatic transmission is smooth. However, I did find myself unconsciously resting my right hand on the gear selector because it's such an effective cruiser. It’s an electronic shifter so you’ll feel notches when changing gears, but it will always return to its default position. You can use it to shift gears in manual mode or opt for the crisp paddles behind the wheel.
Perhaps the only downside is the visibility as there’s not much of it given the car’s small armored car-like windows, particularly the back. Though if you value privacy, that just might be a plus. Thankfully, there’s a whole array of cameras that give you a bird’s eye view of everything around the car.
True European car feel
The Peugeot 3008 may not seem like a very compelling choice, particularly with all of its competition and at far more tempting prices. Yet it’s a car you’ll definitely remember, and possibly miss driving, not just because of the unique French badge, but because of the comfort, ease, and truly unique feel. It embodies everything you’d expect a European car to feel like, from solid-closing doors, a comfortable ride with high-speed stability, and incredibly light but precise steering.
If you do decide to get one, this entry-level model (There’s an even more fully loaded diesel variant) is priced at PhP 1,890,000. This comes with a whole buffet of perks, like the inclusion of Autosweep and Easytrip RFIDs already installed upon delivery with P500 worth of credits for each RFID. There’s also a 24/7 Service Center at Peugeot Pasig, and 24/7 towing and assistance.
Peugeot certainly wants to win customers over, and if the perks don’t convince you, the drive and flair just might be enough to sway you towards the dealership.