Review: Peugeot 3008 and 508

The Peugeot 3008, with flat bonnet line over an extravagant face.
The Peugeot 3008, with flat bonnet line over an extravagant face.
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The 3008 shares its underpinnings with Opel and Vauxhall’s Grandland X. Peugeot builds both models in eastern France and now owns Vauxhall Opel. It is a bulky five-door estate car, nominally an SUV or cross-over amalgamation of estate and “jeep”. It has higher ground clearance and you can specify Peugeot’s Grip Control. This generates extra traction on the front wheels in combination with winter or four-season tyres. It’s an effective and cheaper alternative to a genuine 4x4. Grip Control costs from £260, depending on the wheels fitted.

The 3008 introduced the latest SUV styling at Peugeot, notable a high and flat bonnet line over an extravagant face, a high door sill line, triple “claw” tail lights, a tough-looking thing. The larger 5008 has picked up the themes.

The 508 is Peugeot's largest saloon/estate model.

The 508 is Peugeot's largest saloon/estate model.

A 3008 is an attractive family car, whether or not you have an attractive family, or even need to carry one. The raised seating position gives confidence and even on the standard tyre/grip set up this allows some off-road romping.

Prices open at £22,765 which brings a 129bhp 1.2 litre petrol engine in Active trim. With automatic gears it costs £24,185. Prices for diesel start at £23,795 with a 98bhp 1.6 engine. A 118bhp version is offered with automatic gears at £25,995.

Note that diesel taxation is changing in Britain. For once, it’s nothing to do with Brexit. Cleaner air is the target. Diesel has been outed for its higher tailpipe emissions and even the current Euro6 engines will be penalised.

Diesel cars registered from next April will have to pay higher vehicle tax in the first year of ownership – unless meeting Real Driving Emissions Step 2 standard (RDE2) – which is a tougher measure of real-life emissions rather than using laboratory results for the current Euro6 ratings. This one-off tax would range from £20 for a tiddler to £400 or £500 for a monster SUV.

It remains to be seen how quickly carmakers can meet RDE2 – years rather than months looks likely. The 3008 tested was the 2-litre, 178bhp diesel GT with smooth automatic gears, rated at 124g, 58.9mpg, 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds, yours for £33,965. Economy ranged from 43 to 48mpg.

The distinctive exterior is echoed inside, with instruments which you view over the steering wheel. This works better than on smaller Peugeots. The information screen is equally high, top centre, easy to see, rather distracting to input navigation by touching the screen. There is a voice control system but this was hit and miss – more often the latter. Strong regional accents – no chance. Tab keys on the console have a classy finish and operate most functions. There is a rotary terrain selection wheel to delude you this is a small Land Rover. Without Grip Control it doesn’t add much to the mix. It does have hill descent control which can be a saver on slippery declines.

The GT has quilted seats, grey lino-effect doors and fascia inlays (I think it is intended to look like trendy Swedish), a very generous dropbox between the seats, rear heater vents. After dark, the company lion logo illuminates the ground when you open the front doors. It’s a cute touch to spot puddles and dog stuff.

Verdict: Enjoyable, roomy SUV/estate car.

In many ways the 3008 illustrates what may be the future for the 508, Peugeot’s largest saloon/estate model. The saloon has ceremonial grace, with the estate adding a large load deck without sacrificing the good looks. The series arrived in 2011 and had a refresher design in 2014 and it’s tempting to think a bigger overhaul is pending. Large French saloons tend to be also-rans. Its partner Citroen replaced its C5 saloon with an SUV and this may be what the 508 becomes.

As it stands now, the 508 is an attractive roomy car in the Mondeo/Passat sector. Prices start at £25,340 for the 118bhp 1.6 litre 120 diesel. (£26,695 for the estate). Two litre diesels 150 and 180 models are offered. All the engines are diesel and the hybrid 4x4 model is no longer listed. In that respect alone the 508 is on the wrong track today, vis a vis the panic about diesel futures.

On test was the 120 automatic in GT Line trim, yours for £29,460 but you’d be unlucky to pay all that. It comes with a 0-62mpg time of 11 seconds and is rated at 72.4mpg combined an just 102g of CO2. These are exceptionally good figures for a large automatic car. OK, I didn’t match the mpg but did achieve 53mpg on my regular mixed, commuter drive, and 47mpg in general motoring.

Albeit seen as a large car, its interior is narrower than the 3008 and not much wider than a Focus or Golf. Its antecedents show in the cabin planning – for example no cup-holders in the front, a small navigation and information screen, a small central storage box. Rear passengers have cupholders in the drop-down armrest. Rear legroom is good, headroom adequate. There is a ski-hatch in the rear and the seat backs fold flat.

It handles nicely, with noticeable weight in the steering after the 3008, but has a lazy turning circle and on some surfaces a firm ride and harsh tyre noise from the big Michelins. The engine is sporty rorty when pulling.

Verdict: It’s had its best years but at the right price…