A few weeks back, I spent a week with the new Peugeot 2008 SUV in GT Line trim and was sufficiently impressed to state: “In conclusion, it’s easy for me to categorise this 2008 as a class front runner….” It wasn’t just one particular aspect that fashioned that conclusion either. It was the all-round quality of the presentation from assembly standards, to material selection, to brave design, to dynamic ability and ultimately, I guess, to value, for the primary reason that this Pug didn’t rely on a long options listing to gild the lily, so to speak.
Now along comes its bigger brother in face-lifted form, dubbed, rather logically, the 3008 GT Line which I spent a pleasing half day conducting around some of the Cape’s more charming attractions.
This newest interpretation has lots to live up to as its progenitor, which first saw the light of day in 2016, won a large cupboardful of awards, among which was the coveted 2017 European Car of the Year title. Sadly, all this silverware failed to penetrate, to any significant extent, the conservative halo that surrounds SA car buyers as the 3008 in its 2017 guise isn’t as visible as it deserves to be.
For sure, other factors, not least perceived back-up and dealership spread come into play, both issues which have received attention from the importer (now part of the Stellantis Group).
For 2021, the refreshed 3008 is available in RSA in three derivatives, namely:
ACTIVE at R514 900
ALLURE at R574 900
GT LINE at R644 900
Immediate distinguishing features include a bold frameless grille with extended lateral strakes topped by new LED primary lamps and framed by near-vertical LED running light strips. Down at the tail, distinctive claw-patterned lamp segments are stand-out features while the indicators follow modern trends by employing a sequential illumination pattern.
Some may argue that the frontal styling is a tad over elaborate and that it would not be an easy place to clean were a swarm of locusts to be encountered, but place the old and the new alongside one another and you’ll almost certainly agree that it’s the newcomer that looks the more premium and more distinctive.
And for those with an eye for detail, the paint finish of the new Pug is rather dandy thanks to a high gloss and minimal orange peel intrusion. Further, panel gaps are really tight and even and the doors shut with a thunk that suggests much attention has been paid to acoustics in the hollow sections of the doors and the surrounding panels. But the high spot for me is that the trim strips fitted below the side windows fractionally overlap the bodywork in the region of the centre pillar so that the “trim strip gap” between front and rear doors is reduced.
This unusual attention to detail obviously extends to the way the cabin is put together as not a squeak or tinkle was to be heard even on some rather unpleasant surfaces. And talking of the cabin, Peugeot has made the bold decision to add red nappa leather as an alternative to typical dreary SA-style black or anthracite. I hope this boldness pays off even if the combination of red with bright blue paint of the test unit was of questionable taste! Let’s just say the red with white really did look chic, especially as the beautifully tailored quilted hides are of exceptional quality.
Whatever colour takes pride of place, the cabin is stand out for its unusual raised digital instrument binnacle, small low positioned steering wheel and for generous all-round space which includes a huge (expandable) 591L luggage area.
I can’t quite get the wheel/instrument cluster relationship as kosher as Peugeot might suggest but there’s no argument about the level and quality of cabin fittings which include six hidden airbags, heated and massaging seats, and a comprehensive CarPlay/Android infotainment system that in GT Line trim projects a 360-degree camera image to accompany the music!
There’s an overused and oft-mispelled word – ambience – that relates to the feeling imparted in a defined space. Let’s just say that the ambience of the 3008 is verging on cosseting thanks to the use of materials that are pleasing to the eye and to the touch. In this regard, I have no hesitation in placing the 3008, in GT Line trim at least, at the head of its class.
Other niceties include stability control, forward collision detection, adaptive cruise control, driver alert system and brakes aided and abetted by ABS and EBD.
Motive power remains unchanged which means a 1.6 turbo four with 121kW/240Nm propels the biggish 3008. Joburgers can rejoice in the fact that their progress will at least match that achieved by us sea level dwellers!
The engine is coupled to a smooth-shifting, decently decisive 6-speed auto (with paddle activation) that’s pleasingly devoid of slip and which as a combination, deliver acceptably sprightly performance without undue effort. Don’t expect to win any traffic light GP but do expect to easily keep up with the traffic flow without having to use excessive revs. The relaxed power delivery assists in achieving a high refinement rating which is also founded in very good suppression of wind noise.
This mechanical competence extends to the ride which is far removed from the roly-poly antics many older readers may associate with some French cars of old. Indeed, on mildly broken surfaces, the 3008’s underpinnings telegraphed just a trace of coarseness which suggests that the chassis boffins have favoured control over pliancy as far as initial suspension movement is concerned.
However, on more pockmarked surfaces, and while negotiating dips and the like, there is clearly plenty of cushioned suspension movement on hand to mitigate nasty feedback while still maintaining rebound control. Altogether, a nicely judged chassis which is complemented by a pleasantly weighted power steering set-up.
Indeed, the 3008 in its latest guise represents an enticing amalgam of French chic and dare I say it, Germanic attention to detail, to create an SUV that must be worrying the socks off most of the class contenders. The designers and engineers have done their job well. Now it’s time for the importers and the expanding dealer network to deliver the goods once the excitement of the initial post-purchase honeymoon period has waned.