French automobiles have long been regarded as among the most eccentric in the world, especially in terms of exterior styling and interior ergonomics. They’ve been bestsellers—in their home market, or at least in Western Europe.

But the rest of the world? Go to America, Australia, or Asia—you’d be hard-pressed to find French cars there.

But that should soon change. And Peugeot is heading the onslaught in the global market. Yes, France has trained its sights on the rest of the world. And it’s got the focus of a sniper.

Case in point is its all-new 3008. It’s easy to do a makeover on any car. But to do a makeover on a car and have it result in winning the coveted European Car of the Year the following year is an effort of Herculean proportions. And Peugeot did just that with the 3008, already one of its most popular cars.

Regarded as a game-changer for Peugeot, the new 3008 (prices start at P2,590,000) boasts of groundbreaking technology and design never before seen in its previous iterations. But perhaps the biggest paradigm shift is the change from a humble and generic-looking large hatchback (or small wagon, depending on how you look at it) to a very stylish and distinctive crossover.

From wallflower to head-turner. Boasting sleek and ultra-modern sheetmetal, the 3008 is now a head-turner, as opposed to the wallflower styling of its predecessor. A new wide checkered grille underscores the compelling look of the vehicle, while its signature feline LED headlamps and cat’s claws LED taillamps, long hood, large alloy wheels, and high ground clearance denote a confident SUV-like stance. I particularly like the execution of the very complex D-pillar, which combines three triangular shapes in matte black and matte silver in one pillar in a spectacular automotive rendition of abstract art. Delicate chrome trim on the lower edge of the doors and on the rear bumper adds an even more upscale feel to the vehicle while dual chrome tailpipes add a hint of sportiness to the rear end.

The distinct look is completed by a black diamond roof that suggests an air of sophistication, as it appears to float through the aid of tasteful chrome highlights—much like those found in Land Rovers.

Switch to turbo petrol power. Apart from its almost radically new style, the new 3008 also points to the brand’s move towards improving efficiency while delivering greater power compared to previous models. This explains Peugeot’s decision to power the 3008 with a small-displacement (1.6-liter) turbo petrol engine, much like many European carmakers.

Turbocharging has allowed smaller engines, which have better fuel consumption, to develop more power (and significant reductions in weight), allowing for better overall performance. And the 3008’s 165ps and 240Nm of torque make for an engaging drive, both in city and highway driving.

The capable and highly refined engine is mated to a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. While I’ve always been a fan of paddle shifters, I have to admit to a certain fixation with the 3008’s novel-looking gearshift lever, which looks like nothing you’ve ever seen in any car—except maybe the new diesel CR-V, which doesn’t even have a gearshift lever, only a switch.

High-tech lightweight construction. Complementing the new 3008 is a body that is 100kg lighter than its predecessor (even if the new car is larger than the old one)—a body lightening process made possible by Peugeot’s Efficient Modular Platform 2 (EMP2) technology. Combining greater power with a lighter body results in a complete turnaround in dynamic performance and fuel efficiency.

Cutting-edge interior amenities. Inside, the driving experience is immediately amplified through Peugeot’s next-generation iCockpit. With its advanced ergonomics, modern display panel, and interactive touchscreen, drivers and passengers are immersed in a modern digital world. (A pièce de résistance work of art is the bank of satin silver switches arrayed in a row in the center of the dashboard.) The most noticeable feature of the new iCockpit is the 12.3-inch all-digital instrument panel.

Advanced connectivity is achieved with Mirror Screen functionality, which encompasses Apple CarPlay, MirrorLink, and Android Auto technology. Key features of compatible smartphones are mirrored onto the 8-inch capacitive touchscreen.

Enhancing the driving experience one step further, the 3008 GT Line also introduces the iCockpit Amplify. Available in Boost and Relax modes, the iCockpit Amplify system changes the cabin ambiance by altering the driving dynamics, lighting, acoustics, passenger comfort, and even the fragrance (choose from three) inside the vehicle. My favorite, however, is the massage feature, which lets you choose from five different massages (with variable intensities), and which cheekily enough, even includes a Cat’s Paw massage.

Advanced chassis control system. Making its debut in the new 3008 GT Line is a new Advanced Grip Control system that automatically adjusts the driving dynamics based on three preselected road conditions: Mud, Sand, and Snow. This provides an efficient alternative to traditional off-road systems, despite the 3008 having only front-wheel drive. Like most French cars, the 3008 delivers a delectable blend of supple ride and confident handling.


VERDICT

Peugeot’s all-new 3008 is a much better and much nicer car than its predecessor. The price is much higher, too. If you’re used to well-built and fully featured Japanese crossovers like the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester, you might find it expensive. If you’re used to compact German SUVs like the BMW X1, then you’ll find the equally luxurious and likewise heavily featured Peugeot 3008 a veritable bargain.


SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 165ps/240Nm 1.6-liter Euro 6 direct-injection petrol turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Front
Suspension: MacPherson struts/Torsion beam axle
Brakes: Vented discs/Discs with ABS and EBD
Tires: 225/55R-18
L x W x H: 4,447 x 1,841 x 1,620mm
Wheelbase: 2,675mm
Other features: Auto-on Full LED headlamps with daytime running lights; rain-sensing wipers; intermittent front and rear wipers; LED foglamps with cornering function; heated power-adjustable power-folding side mirrors with “Lion” image projection; 3-claw LED taillamps; dual chrome tailpipes; rear spoiler; Mistral TEP leather/fabric upholstery; 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat; 60:40-split “Magic-flat” folding rear seats; leather steering wheel; electric parking brake; 8-inch capacitive touchscreen; 6-speaker audio system with Bluetooth/MP3/USB/Wi-Fi/Mirror Link connectivity; dual-zone climate control system; keyless smart entry system; butterfly wing-opening center console with chiller compartment; stainless steel pedals and footrest; 3 12V sockets; LED interior lighting; six airbags; Electronic Stability System; front and rear parking sensors; 180-degree rearview camera; Advanced Grip Control; Hill Start Assist; Hill Assist descent Control; Tire Pressure Monitoring System; cruise control; ISOFIX seating system
Price: P2,790,000

Test: Peugeot 3008
DESIGN9.5
BUILD QUALITY9.5
DRIVEABILITY9.5
PERFORMANCE9.3
VALUE FOR MONEY8.8
9.3Overall Score

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