The merging of sectors of the new car market becomes more common day-by-day as manufacturers strive to offer the right product at the right time at the right price in these recessionary times.
Growing sales by entering new emerging market sectors or establishing new ones is not new but Peugeot aims to grow their sales by entering more market sectors than just the conventional small, medium and large saloon or hatchback, MPV or SUV segments.
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The new Peugeot 3008, which goes on sale in November with six power output options from 1.6-litre petrol and diesel and 2.0 diesel units with three trim and equipment levels, has prices starting from £15,995 and rising to £21,895.
The 3008 is based on the medium sized Peugeot 308 platform which already supplies the Hatch and SW estate body styles. The new addition sits between the two of them for length at 4,365mm but at 1,639 in height is much taller and at 2,113mm wide is roomier plus there is a much larger boot/load area ranging from 512-litres with the rear seats in use to 1,604-litres with the rear three seats folded.
The styling is a combination of five door hatchback, cum tall MPV people carrier cum SUV 4x4 even though it is a front wheel drive vehicle.
The similar concept Nissan Qashqai established this new segment and it's the clear market leader and the best selling SUV ahead of the Honda CR-V, Land Rover Freelander and the newcomer - the Ford Kuga as well.
But Peugeot want a slice of this obviously customer friendly market and anticipate they will sell around 10,500 units of their 3008 in its first full year of sales. Clearly customers still like the rugged looks of an SUV but do not necessarily want the fuel guzzling 4x4 drivetrain and they still want the versatile seating and load carrying of an MPV but in a good handling, medium sized family car.
So roll all these requirements and wants together and you end up with a 'crossover' so the 3008, five door, five seater would seem to fit the bill perfectly.
I like the styling of the 3008 but from my experience at the media launch this is not universally the case. Some 'hacks' thought the rounded styling to be bland, lacking in character and not distinctive enough for choosy customers.
I prefer its rounded front to the snout nose, over emphasised styling of the 308 existing models. The newcomer has the design cues from other Peugeot models at the front with a more refined interpretation of the open-mouth grille and feline lights.
The forward-positioned windscreen gives a swept back aerodynamic look and the rising side waistline and curved roof provides a coupe side elevation. At the rear are wide sculptured flanks which makes the car appear chunky and perhaps it is not its best view.
The side B pillars and C rear quarter pillars are quite wide so visibility for the driver and subsequent blindspots can be an issue.
At the rear is a very neat split tailgate. The top section hinges upwards and provides the usual tailgate entrance but a lower section hinges downwards to give even better access for bulky loads or the family dog.
In the large uncluttered load area there is what Peugeot call a 'Multiflex' system which is a three-position load floor that is easy to use so the load can be positioned at the best height and more items can be stored under the floor. The three rear seats also fold down easily and provide a large flat load floor. Boot space is 512-litres with the rear seats in use, 1,604-litres with them folded.
In the passenger compartment the front area is laid out in a similar style with a twin cockpit arrangement and the driving position and positioning off all the controls and switches is first class. I found getting just the right position for me between the seat and the steering column virtually perfect and the high up command position the seats offer is also first class.
Some might find the seats on the soft side but I liked them. With its very compliant and controlled ride the 3008 is a very comfortable car. Even with the front seats moved right back there is still ample legroom for rear seat passengers.
Even more impressive was the apparent quality of the interior, much improved and something existing Peugeot customers will find heartening.
There are three trim and equipment levels, Active, Sport and Exclusive and the mid range Sport will be the best seller.
All models have air conditioning, electric front windows, front fog lights, energy saving tyres, Multiflex load carrying system, automatic electric parking brake, electronic stability programme and a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Active versions have 17-inch steel wheels whilst Sport and Exclusive have 17-inch alloys.
The Sport models have added specification over Active in the form of rear parking sensors, cruise control, upgraded sound system, interior lighting pack, Dynamic Roll Control for the more powerful models and leather bound steering wheel.
Exclusive versions gain a huge panoramic sunroof, head-up display, distance alert, row two sun visor side curtains, alarm, additional interior storage boxes, climate control, tyre pressure sensors and added exterior brightwork treatment.
In addition there are many and varied extra cost options to turn the vehicle into exactly what customers specifically want. I pick out one item which costs an extra £450 and it should be fitted as standard.
That extra cost will be easily retrieved on the trade-in value of the vehicle because used car buyers will want it, especially those who want to use the 3008 for towing, or driving off-road or for more easily coping with the UK's wet, icy and snowy roads in Winter.
This innovative optional extra is called Grip Control and using a clever electronic differential which includes traction control and mud and snow tyres. It optimises the traction of both front wheels and can switch all the power to just one wheel if that wheel has the best grip. The driver can also choose one of five setting that suit the driving conditions the best. These are Standard, Snow, Off Road, Sand and ESP off.
To prove just how good this system is Peugeot demonstrated it by using a 3008 with a 1.6-litre petrol engine to tow a glider on a grass runway fast enough for the pilot to get the glider airborne. Grip Control is very clever and customers should order it but Peugeot think the take-up initially will be only around 30%.
Driving and engines
Another clever new technical innovation to be found on sportier 1.6 THP petrol and 2.0 HDi FAP diesel models is Dynamic Roll Control. As the title suggest this function controls and limits bodyroll normally experienced by tall vehicles during fast cornering. Essentially this system employs a third shock absorber in the rear suspension system fitted horizontally and linked to the two vertical shock absorbers.
This third element reduces roll side to side by stiffening the suspension and reduces fore and aft pitching during acceleration and braking. Without it the 3008 is still a sharp handling vehicle, with, it is even better.
In all forms the 3008 offers a very compliant and controlled ride and also a comfortable one. The steering is on the light side but at least it is precise and the feedback is good.
I am taking little time in covering the power units as they are all well known current Peugeot fuel efficient, clean and eco friendly engines. There is the choice of two 1.6-litre petrol units, a 120PS unit with variable valve timing and inlet valve lift. This bottom of the range unit might be on the week side, there wasn't one to try at the media launch, but the fuel economy is claimed to be 38.6mpg.
The choice engine I think from the range for most retail customers with prices from £17,795 will be the 1.6-litre THP 150PS with continuous variable valve timing and boosted by a twin scroll turbocharger. This unit produces 240Nm of torque from only 1,400rpm so it has the response at low speed characteristics of a diesel unit.
Fuel economy is 38.1mpg in the combined cycle and that is exactly what my test car returned. With CO2 emissions of 176g/km the road tax is £175 a year. Top speed is 125mph and 0-62mph takes just 8.9 seconds.
There are four diesel engines with varying power outputs and transmission option combinations ranging from the 1.6-litre HDi 110PS right up to 2.0-litre 150 and 163PS units. The main selling engine overall will be the 110PS version due to fleet and company car high mileage users.
This produces 240Nm at 1,750rpm in normal mode but 260Nm in overboost mode under hard acceleration. Top speed is 112mph and 0-62mph takes 12.2 seconds.
The official average fuel economy is 55.3mpg but my test car only returned 44mpg during the test driving over a variety of roads ranging from town traffic to motorways. The CO2 emissions are 137g/km so road tax is a relatively low £120 a year.
Given that the 1.6-litre high pressure turbocharged petrol engine produces more power and the same torque as the 1.6-litre diesel unit and is only marginally better for real life fuel economy, although it does cost more in road tax, the vehicle is cheaper to buy and quieter to drive and it would be my choice unless I was covering huge amounts of mileage.
Overall the new Peugeot 3008 is a very welcome newcomer to the ranks of new-age vehicles that can cope with most requirements the modern motorist can throw at it. It looks smart if a little conservative, it is the right size, it seems well made, versatile for passenger and load carrying, it drives well and it is comfortable.
Peugeot 3008 MILESTONES
Peugeot 3008 Sport HDi 110 (Likely best selling model)
Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, HDi common rail turbodiesel, 110PS, 240-260Nm from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual gearbox and front wheel drive with traction control
Performance: 112mph, 0-62mph 12.2 seconds, CO2 137g/km, VED £120, BIK tax 18%.
Insurance group: 6
Dimensions: L 4,365mm, W 1,837mm, H 1,639mm, braked towing weight 1,300kg, load area capacity 512-1,604kg
For: Practical user friendly design, roomy versatile interior, large load space, comfortable, well equipped, excellent handling control for a tall vehicle, 1.6 THP 150 petrol engine would be my choice
Against: Will be expensive with must-have added options, £450 Grip Control should be standard, conservative exterior styling will not appeal to everybody, side and rear quarter blind spots