Here's why you should be excited about the Peugeot 3008

New Pug crossover is a step change. TG's Paul Horrell explains why

Yesterday we ran the first shots of the new Peugeot 3008 crossover and we didn’t expect much reaction. Peugeots of the non-GTI variety have seldom got the TopGear.com commentariat into much of a lather. But as it happens you did get excited about the 3008.

That’s probably because Peugeot people have become more realistic about where their old cars went wrong. So they can be more rigorous about making the new ones truly competitive. And the Qashqai-size crossover market is now one of the most competitive bloodbaths of all. No scope here for half-measures.

Over to Maxime Picat, Peugeot boss: “The first 3008 was caught between a car and a crossover. The new one has decided which way to go.” So it has come over a lot more assertive and countrified, with more ground clearance and a bolder front.

This is the first car done from start to finish after Picat took over. In a way he got lucky – he had access to the PSA Group’s fine-handling and lightweight EMP2 platform and new generation engines.

But he also decided to spend decent money. Especially on the interior. We’ve talked before about the new control and instrument system. All versions have virtual dials in front of the driver, plus a centre screen. But the centre screen gets bigger if you go up a spec level or two. The graphics, resolution, animations and responsiveness of this setup really are top-class. The centre display is a proper capacitive touchscreen.

As Picat says, “in the past we saved a couple of Euros per car by using old-generation processors. Big mistake.”

Surrounding the screens are well-turned-out materials – real aluminium for the switchgear under the screen, cloth on the dash, stitched door armrests, illuminated cupholders, LED mood lighting, rubber liners for the cubby holes. These are the details that speak of battles won. Accountants want them left out, but they make a real difference to the quality impression of a car.

The version pictured is actually a mid-spec. Next month, hoping to eke out another hit of pre-publicity for a range that doesn’t go on sale until October, they’ll show us the GT versions. These have LED headlights, a more textured grille and sterner-looking bumper.

The 3008 is longer than a Qashqai. This pitches it directly against its French rival the Renault Kadjar (funny that). The 3008 has plenty room inside, thanks to the modularity of the EMP2 platform allowing a longer wheelbase than the related 308 or nearly all rivals. But it’s light, especially if you spec the decently lively 130bhp three-cylinder petrol – 1325kg.

Top engines are the 165bhp petrol and 180bhp diesel – more than most rivals. The smallest wheels are 17s, and there’s even a new narrow-tyre 19in option so you can have big hoops without a CO2 penalty.

In 2019 there will be a plug-in hybrid petrol version, with electric drive to the rear wheels. The engineers say it will have a 30 mile electric-only range. Mind you, that won’t be unique – by that time, there will be similar drivetrains on the BMW X1 and next Mini Countryman.

Picat says we’ll be seeing a lot more of the new 3008 than the old one. His logic is that the 308 and 2008 are both number two sellers in Europe in their segments, so the new 3008 ought to be able to do the same among the rapidly expanding crossover bunfight. On looks, perceived quality, space and spec, the signs are he could be in with a chance.