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Peugeot 3008 Sport HDi 150

Click to view picture gallery“One of the best cars to enter the
  market over the last six months was
  Peugeot’s 3008 crossover, a finalist
  in the International Car of the Year
  2010 competition and What Car?
magazine’s 2010 Car of the Year...”

IT WAS PROBABLY my car of the year as well although it was a close run thing with the new Volkswagen Polo. I
've driven and written about the five-door, five-seater 3008 before, both at its press launch and subsequently at the end of last year where it got a real-life workout on a pre-Christmas visit to France. Now I needed to look at it again because this time the 3008 was fitted with Peugeot's Grip Control system.

The 3008 successfully crosses over the segment boundaries between an SUV, a five-door family hatch and a flexible seating MPV and although it has all the hallmarks of a C-segment SUV 4x4, the 3008 actually only comes with front-wheel drive.

However, Peugeot's Grip Control (a 460 option) is a halfway house between all-wheel drive and two-wheel drive. This on-demand, intelligent function — easily and simply operated by a rotary switch — optimises the traction control of both front wheels for improved grip on poor road surfaces or off-road. A clever electronic differential optimises the traction of both front wheels and can send all the power to just one wheel if that wheel has the best grip. The driver operates the system by means of a control switch with five settings: Standard, Snow, Off-Road (Mud/Dirt/Wet Grass), Sand and ESP-off. Grip Control-equipped 3008s come with 16-inch M+S (mud/snow) tyres.

This option so far has only had around a five per cent take-up from 3008 customers but this is mainly due to the fact that the first cars ordered by dealers for its November introduction last year didn't have this cost-effective function. Now, orders for Grip Control are much stronger and so is demand for the new 3008 with demand already ahead of this year's 10,500 sales target.

Unless our memories are short I can see the experience of the recent Winter weather creating much more demand for Grip Control and I suspect that in the longer term used 3008s with it will be worth more than those without it. For just an extra 460 why wouldn't any customer opt for it? I've tried it and it works seamlessly. It might not be a 'proper' four-wheel drive system but for most people it will bring added margins of secure driving in bad conditions or when towing.

If four-wheel drive is really what you need, then 3008 customers will have to wait until 2011 when the range will get a Hybrid4 option. Basically a 2.0-litre 163bhp diesel engine will power the front wheels and when drive from the rear wheels is needed this will be supplied by a 37bhp electric motor. Around 74.3mpg is promised with CO2 emissions of just 99g/km.

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
Grip Control can be specified on all engines except the latest addition to the range, the 2.0-litre HDi 163 diesel with automatic transmission. That said, there is still plenty of choice of engine power to go with Grip Control: the 1.6-litre 120 and 156bhp petrol units, the 1.6 HDi 110 diesel (the best selling model) and the 2.0-litre HDi 150 diesel. Plus there is the choice of Active, Sport and Exclusive trim and equipment levels and so far there has been a high demand for the Exclusive versions.

On the road prices start at 16,595 and go up to 22,495 but may vary slightly following the 1 April VED changes.

The 3008 is full of what I think are good features and a distinct improvement over other Peugeot models, except the new 5008 MPV range. I prefer its rounded new front which is said to be the new 'face' for Peugeot — a vast improvement over the exaggerated 'drooping nose' of the existing 308 family models.

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 make the car appear chunky and perhaps it is not its best view. The side B-pillars and rear-quarter C-pillars are quite wide so visibility for the driver and subsequent blind spots 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 even the family dog.

In the large uncluttered load area there is what Peugeot calls a 'Multiflex' system — 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. This is what I call a family-friendly car and even if you have no children it is great for carrying loads of whatever size.

In the passenger compartment the front area is laid out with a twin cockpit arrangement and the driving position and positioning of 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.

In all forms
the 3008 offers a very
compliant and controlled
ride and also
a comfortable one
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.

All models have air conditioning, electric front windows, front fog lights, energy saving tyres (not with the Grip Control option), 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 a leather-bound steering wheel.

Exclusive versions gain a huge panoramic sunroof, head-up display, distance alert, second row sun visor side curtains, alarm, additional interior storage boxes, climate control, tyre pressure sensors and added exterior brightwork treatment.

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 name suggests, this function controls and limits body roll 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, 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.

About the only niggles are the lethargic operation of the electronic parking brake and, as already mentioned, side and rear-quarter blind spots. The plusses include the practical user-friendly design, roomy versatile interior, large load space, comfortable, well equipped, excellent handling control for a tall vehicle and the impressive Grip Control function. It's also economical to run and a car for all seasons. — David Miles

Peugeot 3008 Sport HDi 150 (with Grip Control)
| 20,555
Maximum speed: 121mph | 0-62mph: 9.7 seconds | Overall test MPG: 46mpg
Power: 150bhp | Torque: 250lb ft | CO2 149g/km