These are interesting times. We’re at a juncture where technology and lifestyle are becoming ever more interlinked; products are coherently designed to complement one another. Gradually form and function have ceased being polar opposites and are becoming one and the same.

Peugeot's entry in the crossover market - the 3008

Where once a family portrait might have hung on the wall, in many homes a slimline television now resides; not simply broadcasting the output from a digital satellite receiver, but also acting as a 50” portal to the delights of the internet. The expensive smartphone that calls your pocket or bag home, doubles not just as a device for talking voice-to-voice but as a communication tool across a multitude of social media platforms, video links and for organising your whole daily schedule.

This crossover in technology and lifestyle is finally bearing more fruit in the automotive world too. It seems that a growing band of manufacturers have listened to what many car buyers actually want and the result is the crossover. It doesn’t trip off the tongue like a trio of letters like MPV or SUV but it does seem to be a term that more car consumers are embracing and understanding.

One of the more recent entrants in the crossover market is Peugeot with its bold 3008. Does it make sense in the modern motoring landscape?

The Peugeot 3008's body surfaces combine an interesting mix of contours

Immediately you’ll notice the 3008 by its curious styling, which I have to say, is something I was warming to before I saw it up close and genuinely appreciated by the end of the week. It’s not all perfect but a design that looks exquisite from every angle is the Holy Grail of car styling studious the world over. Viewed from any three-quarter angle and the Peugeot is a bold statement of stance and solidity, melding the very essence of being a crossover with its MPV/SUV styling mash-up. But stand perpendicular to the car and it’s a different story: end-on it looks gaunt as though its cheeks have been sucked in, whilst side-on it manages to give an air of being under-wheeled with inelegantly long overhangs.

Details abound the bodywork which are unusual and ensure the 3008 looks like little else on the road. The door frames are unconventional in shape: the front ones being entirely triangular in the window-line, whilst the back ones are vertical. Those slab-sides body panels have their relief broken by swollen arches that have their curves chamfered off as on other recent Peugeots. Further up a gentle concave indentation in the rear wings blends seamlessly into the distinctive triangular rear lights, complete with their honeycomb graphic motif.

Peugeot has melded a series of MPV and SUV styling cues into the 3008's design

My biggest gripe is the nose looks over detailed with lashings of brightwork and faux-by-four obligatory skid plates and unpainted grey plastic addenda. At least Peugeot eschewed the Cheshire Cat grinning grille for this application.

How does the 3008’s interior stack up? Peugeot seem to have been on a roll with those lately?

The inside story on the 3008 is one that will pleasantly surprise the majority of those who grace its interior. Recent Peugeots have enjoyed a significant step up in both perceived and actual quality which is taken onto another level here as the French giant benchmarked Audi for its dashboard quality. In fact, it may have taken the benchmarking aspect a little too far, for if you squint a little you could be cosying up in Audi’s R8 supercar, so similar are the facia shapes.

The luxurious interior of the Peugeot 3008 Allure (or half close your eyes and it's Audi's R8)

Has it matched the German firm? Not quite, but don’t take that as a criticism for the 3008’s interior is a very pleasant place in which to spend time. It feels expensive, much more so than this top of the range Allure model costs at a shade under £24,000 and such a sensation is a rare commodity.

Peugeot's useful head-up display unit

That said, it’s a dark grey environment inside but the cabin nevertheless feels spacious and airy, thanks in part to its generous glass house and the near full length glass roof, complete with electrically operated blind.

Storage space is impressive, laughably small glovebox aside, with deep door bins, a DIN-sized slot above the in-car entertainment unit, twin cupholders behind the gear lever and a colossal central, air-conditioned vault beneath the centre armrest, perfect for keeping all manner of sweeties and drinks both tidy and chilled on longer trips.

The quality of the 3008's cabin really is as impressive as it appears in photographs

Both front chairs are comfortable and offer a wide range of adjustments on various planes, electrically assisted on the driver’s side. Being leather-clad, the three-level heating facility was a welcome addition to toast buns on mornings that went as low as -12°C over the test week.

Crossover buyers look for practicality and value for money – what does the Peugeot 3008 offer?

The rear bench is wide and generous, the leather of the back rest wrapping around like a high backed winged armchair as it returns to the door aperture. Each seating position is comfortable and spacious enough for a typically-sized adult passenger, with thoughtful details like rear air vents and retractable blinds built into the doors for added refinement.

Easy access to the spacious rear bench of the Peugeot 3008

As part of the 3008’s overall 5-star Euro NCAP safety package, the outer rear positions are ISOFIX prepared and along with a plethora of airbags Allure specification models are equipped with ESP, tyre pressure sensors, head-up display and a distance alert as part of the cruise control. It doesn’t automatically slow you down but it does measure your distance in seconds to the car in front, flashing a display repeatedly as you get ever closer.

Open the split tailgate to reveal a commodious boot, with a robust panel which can be set at three different levels for added versatility. The rear seats fold flat too, offering a voluminous bay that transforms the 512l capacity to a maximum of 1604l.

The split tailgate and moveable boot floor makes the 3008 a practical proposition

You can specify your 3008 in any of five trim levels, ranging fromt Access, through Active to Allure. For a sportier feel you can choose between SR and Sportium. Depending upon the trim level the Peugeot crossover is available with naturally aspirated and turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engines, complemented by a brace of 1.6 and 2.0-litre HDi turbo diesels. 5- and 6-speed manual gearboxes are available as well as a pair of automated 6-speeders. Just on sale are a pair of diesel-electric models in the form of the HYbrid4 range, offering power to all four wheels on demand.

3008 ownership could be yours from £17,195 for the Access 1.6 VTi up to the £28,495 104g/km version of the new HYbrid4.

Peugeot enjoys a reputation for producing fine-handling cars. Does the 3008 continue the trend?

As a rule of thumb cars that look tall rarely handle as though they’re on the proverbial rails often quoted in the road tester’s book of clichés. And in this regard, the 3008 perpetuates the theory.

To be clear, it doesn’t handle badly or make your passengers feel they’re rolling into the hedgerows of tight and twisty back roads, but it doesn’t reward you on your countryside blasts either. Grip is a strong point although the electrically-assisted steering communicates little of which direction the 3008’s wheels are pointing. Body roll itself is limited by standard fitment of electronic wizardry to keep things in check.

Perhaps the 3008's least attractive angle. But you've seen worse, right?

No, the 3008 is focused to provide the driver and passengers with a comfortable, compliant ride that succeeds in its objective without resorting to floating over crests and bumps. So good is the ride quality and overall stability that its suppleness deals effectively with undulations at both urban and cruising speeds.

How does the drivetrain feel? A diesel automatic hardly sounds like it’s going to get the adrenaline pumping…

Peugeot’s sold its common rail HDi engines for over a decade now, meaning each has gone through a series of revisions and improvements to make the units smoother, more powerful, torquier and consuming less fuel. The 2.0-litre 163bhp version fitted here delivers genuinely strong performance and brisk acceleration, feeling faster than the officially quoted figures suggest it will.

The 3008's pounding heart - a 163bhp 2.0-litre turbo diesel

That 6-speed automatic gearbox is equally smooth in operation, seeking out the optimum gear to match the torque delivery and kicking down quickly under hard acceleration. There’s a manual sequential override should you so wish, activated by knocking the lever to the left of its gate.

The claimed 42.8mpg of the official tests was more than matched on one 200 mile jaunt in the 3008 with the trip computer indicating an impressive 46mpg, that despite the journey being at the national speed limit for the majority of the journey. Less impressive are the CO2 emissions, quoted at 172g/km, placing this particular 3008 in band H for vehicle excise duty (£265 per annum).

Verdict

If the flexible spaciousness of an MPV appeals to you but you can’t get along with the one-box blobbiness of the silhouette; and if the high driving position and general robustness of an SUV floats your boat but the prospect high fuel bills sinks your tanker, then a crossover might be fusion of ideas that you’re looking for. Combining the better aspects of the two genres seems to be a winning combination judging by the number of Qashqais you see.

So does the 3008 cut it? In a nutshell, yes.

Peugeot 3008 crossover - a convincing proposition in the family car market

It ticks all the boxes in terms of cabin capacity and user friendliness, it’s well built and generously equipped for a reasonable price. And in the package here, combines effortless, brisk driving with good fuel economy.

Potentially the 3008’s biggest stumbling block are its looks; perhaps the relatively safe styling of its rival from Nissan explains the popularity. But to overlook the Peugeot entirely because of its styling would be foolhardy because underneath that distinctive outfit is a fine car and the French marque’s most convincing family package in years. The 3008 really is that good.

Thumbs Up: Quality of construction and materials, spacious and practical, smooth and economical drive train, well equipped, bold styling, smooth ride

Thumbs Down: Best suited to cruising than back road blasts, steering uncommunicative, heavy-handed detailing

Quick Facts

Model Tested: Peugeot 3008 Allure HDi 163 FAP automatic

Top Speed: 127mph

0-60: 10.2sec

Combined cycle fuel consumption: 42.8mpg

CO2 emissions: 172g/km

Engine size: 4/1997cc common rail fuel injection, turbocharged diesel

Power: 163bhp

Torque: 250lb/ft

Length: 4365mm

Width: 1837mm

Height: 1639mm

Wheelbase: 2613mm

Boot space: 512-1604l

Kerb weight: 1701kg

Price: £23,995 (January 2012)

All photographs © Keith WR Jones 2012

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