The French Connection
The compact crossover market is already one of the most crowded segments and is set to become a tight battleground with the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester coming in one after the other. For something rather different, returning brand Peugeot is offering the 3008, a compact crossover that looks like a cross between an SUV and an MPV, and which carries its own arsenal of technology unique to the class.
Peugeot has returned to the Philippines under a new distributor, under the same business group handling BMW and Kia Motors. The new company, Eurobrands Distributor, has zeroed in on what can distinguish the French marque. In one word: diesel. Most of the new models, the 3008 and 5008 crossovers and the 508 sedan, are powered by oil burners. The exception is the RCZ sports car, and a diesel engine for that car is not out of the question. As Peugeot is currently the only mass-market European brand with a Philippine presence, it has the advantage of having state-of-the-art diesel powerplants. Peugeot is reportedly the largest manufacturer of automotive diesel engines, so this is playing to the brand’s strengths.
1600 cc sounds small these days for a compact crossover, but in the 3008, turbocharging and a common-rail system delivers 112 HP.
It’s enough to propel the crossover briskly. When the turbocharger comes on full boost, there’s a strong shove from 285 Nm of torque. In-gear acceleration is quick and confident, with 242 Nm available at just 1500 rpm. A diesel particulate filter that collects pollutants and “burns” them with increased temperature cuts down on emissions. Local fuel quality is not a problem thanks to this technology, according to Peugeot’s Marketing and Communications Director Dong Magsajo-the engines maintain their Euro 5 cleanliness rating.
The 1.6L engine is paired with an automated manual transmission. There is a clutch and a manual 6-speed gearbox, but the car’s computer actuates it. Look at the floor and there are only two pedals. Instead of the conventional PRNDL arrangement, there’s only Reverse, Neutral and Automatic. A gate to the left of Automatic engages Manual mode, for which the driver uses the paddle shifters mounted on the steering column.
Both technologies are geared towards fuel efficiency, and Peugeot adds one more component: a start-stop system that automatically shuts down the engine when the car is at a full stop. It restarts the engine almost instantaneously when the brake pedal is released.
In practice, the system is operated like an automatic but feels like a manual, complete with clutch engagement and the split-second pause while the car shifts gear. The start-stop mode works unobtrusively, with the electrical systems including aircon remaining on while the engine is shut down.
There’s only one situation where the system hesitates: when the engine is about to shut down and you step on the accelerator, for example when crossing an intersection. In these instances there’s the slightest delay in response.
The system yielded 12.3 km/l in city driving, despite our getting caught in hours of stop-and-go Friday-night and Saturday-morning traffic.
All this technology is neatly wrapped up in a cheerful-looking body shell. The front features a wide center section with a funky chromed eggcrate grille. The windshield is sharply raked and mates with a panoramic glass roof, for a nearly unbroken view from front to rear. The rear passengers in particular will be treated to a scenic view, at least on cool days and during nighttime. A power retractable shade closes up the roof when the heat becomes too much.
Seating is tall, with a high hip point, for easy ingress and a commanding view of traffic. A head-up display projects a digital speedometer within the driver’s direct view. There’s a touch of retro styling in the toggle switches and circular dual round gauges. Chrome bits, on the doors and dashboard, and on the gearshift, provide some visual accents and echo the chrome on the outside mirrors. Storage bins abound, from a convenient tray within the deep center console, to a small bin below the steering wheel. The trunk has a movable hard shelf, which can be set on either of two levels. The rear seat can split-fold.
All 3008s have six airbags: front, side and curtain, ABS, ESP, 4-wheel discs and rear parking sensor. The higher variants have a radar-based front distance alert and tire deflation warning.
At P1,495,000 we found the 3008 1.6 eHDI Active feature set quite attractive and compelling an alternative to the usual suspects.
We thought that we had seen it all in the compact crossover class, but the 3008 has nudged us in a different direction.