Life has a strange sense of timing. Just a few hours before it was announced that MacUser was dead, I took delivery of a new Peugeot 3008. In retrospect, even if I had known of this imminent loss of income before I ordered the car, I think I would have still gone ahead. Now I am driving it, I am certain that I would.
I have driven Peugeots as my main, everyday vehicle since I first leased a 205 GTI 1.9 back in 1987, heady days of developing system software for Commodore. Over that period I have additionally owned a couple of LandRover Defenders, both Td5 models, the last of which I was so keen to be rid of that I sold it to my son for £1. That was not because they were not wonderful vehicles, but a result of their prodigious cost of ownership.
Almost all of my Peugeots have had names including the letters ‘GTI’. Other than two GTI 1.9s, the most exciting was a 306 GTI-6 in a gorgeous gold, which somehow became a favourite for cattle to lick. Although its paintwork survived their rasping tongues, the stench of cattle spit lingered for weeks.
Then four years ago I bought my first 3008. LandRoverless, I wanted a crossover which was good in tough road conditions, pretty swift particularly mid-range, capacious (I often carry an unfolded road cycle in the back), and wouldn’t eat money like a LandRover. So whilst this 3008 may have only done just over a hundred miles, my total mileage in them is closer to 35,000. That includes a lot of local hopping and shopping around the Isle of Wight, and several long bashes to the Highlands, Peak District, and Wales.
Boringly, both 3008s have had essentially the same spec: Allure level outfit, the lovely tractable 2.0 150 FAP diesel with a 6-speed manual box, and extras consisting of the grip control (including custom tyres and alloy wheels), and steering Xenon headlamps.
‘Allure’ is the top level, and brings all sorts of natty features, including in this latest version front and rear proximity sensors with reversing camera, electric folding wing mirrors, speed limiter and cruise control, distributed bits of metal trim at low level around the car, electr(on)ic handbrake, hill assist, and so on. Coupled with the lovely cockpit-like driving position, it makes the longest or shortest journey a real pleasure. This is a real driver’s car, which is also pretty kind to the passengers and load.
I have come to love Peugeot’s two litre diesel engine. This time round I think it has some added filtering system relying on dealer-maintained fluid, but otherwise seems much as before. After about 20,000 miles this engine becomes impressively powerful, with a tractability that reminds me of the effortless acceleration I enjoyed from my Yamaha TR1 1000 cc V-twin motorbike. It comes into its own in the mid-range, when joining motorways, for example: I often found myself leaving expensive German GTIs behind when I ran from 40 up to 70. OK, I admit that it was all too easy to keep going and outpace even the 80+ mph fast lane hacks, before the HUD reminded me. Despite these occasionally wayward bursts, and a lot of slower Island plodding, the last 3008 returned a consistent 45 miles to the gallon, or better.
Another crucial feature that I have come to expect of Peugeots is handling. Less than a couple of miles from my home is a tight S-bend in a 40 mph limit, and being able to drive right through at 40 is mandatory. Despite its height, the 3008 seems quite happy with this, not quite as adhesive perhaps as the GTI-6, but without any tendency to roll, or buck on the Island’s uneven surfaces. Its handling is quite good enough to bring fear to my wife long before the car shows any signs of it.
In the harsh and snowy winters a couple of years ago, and before, I discovered how good the optional grip control is. All I did was dial the ‘snow’ setting in, and with a bit of judicious use of throttle and steering, it coped with rutted snow very reassuringly. Although we have suitable beaches, I have resisted taking it down to try out the ‘sand’ setting.
Grip control is a relatively cheap option, but I also insisted on the steering Xenon headlights. Much of my daily driving is done on country roads before dawn, and these lights are so good that I seldom have to use full beam. Sadly they are also seriously expensive, and not available on the otherwise attractive Hybrid variant of the 3008, which is bizarre.
The biggest surprise with this new and uplifted version of the 3008 is the electronics package. The previous (late 2010 build) car was good, with a superb head-up display (HUD) showing speed and a few vital signs, and a console in the centre of the dashboard to handle the rest. I also added a MiFi hub, but never used it.
Current Allure-spec cars now come with almost everything that you would pay quite a lot extra for: navigation, Bluetooth with hands-free phone support, a greatly improved HUD, and best of all, a reversing camera. Jon Barrett, the sales person at Staddlestones Garage, Ryde, promised that this camera was so good that you can see the gravel with it, and was not exaggerating. If anyone knows of a hack to take off still and video from the camera I would be delighted to hear.
In fact the camera is so good that I am tempted to sneak down to Coppins Bridge (the Island’s notorious mêlée of roundabout and traffic lights) in the small hours and try reversing all the way around it.
We all need things that put the fun back into motoring. This new Peugeot 3008 certainly does that in every respect.