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Peugeot 3008 Sport HDi 110

Click to view picture gallery“Proving that the right car at the
  right time sells, the new Peugeot
  3008 crossover has already
  exceeded sales expectations —
  by over 125 per cent!

FROM 1 JANUARY 2010, THE VAST MAJORITY OF CAR OWNERS and users will be paying more to the Government because of the VAT increase on new cars and fuel, more road tax as the CO2 emission bands are changed and higher Benefit in Kind tax based on the price and emissions of current vehicles.

The recent pre-budget review by Chancellor Alistair Darling grabbed the popular press headlines with news that electric-powered vehicles will be exempt from BIK company car tax for five years and that electric-powered cars are exempt from road tax (for the moment!). However, in reality this news will only be a benefit to a very small number of drivers.

Just how electric-powered vehicles are in real life classed as 'low carbon transport', motoring pundits have no idea. The production of battery components and the supply of electricity from coal, oil and gas-powered sources — which make up over 70% of supply — still means an overall high level of CO2 output. Then we have the added costs of providing charging stations throughout the UK so electric car owners can keep moving. And, finally, just how much will the cost of electricity increase in the future?

Real world car owners and users wanting to incur the least possible tax penalties will want to buy the most efficient vehicles the industry can offer and, in some cases, choose a versatile vehicle that meets all the needs of the user and, perhaps, come down to owning one vehicle instead of two.

Clearly new car buyers are thinking this way already as demand for the new Peugeot 3008 crossover is exceeding expectations. This clever vehicle combines elements of an SUV, MPV and C-segment lower medium-sized hatchback with four doors, a split rear tailgate and seating for five passengers with lots of useable carrying space.

Demand has caused Peugeot to increase production to meet demand throughout Europe. It is quite clearly a popular new vehicle because it made the final seven in the 2010 Car of the Year competition, finishing in a creditable sixth position and ahead of the Citroen C3 Picasso MPV which shares the same platform and engines.

Initial UK demand for the 3008 was anticipated to be around 10,500 units in a full year but demand is already up by a massive 125%. And in the festive season of goodwill, Peugeot UK are keeping the VAT level at 15% for cars ordered this year and delivered between January and March 2010. With 1.6 petrol with 120 and 156bhp plus 1.6 and 2.0-litre HDI diesel units with 110-163bhp power outputs, prices range from 16,246 to 22,021.

“The 3008 is a really easy
vehicle to drive and it’s
a nice environment to
travel in because of its
sumptuous interior and
really comfortable ride
Trim and equipment levels are Active, Sport and Exclusive and the most popular model is expected to be the 110bhp 1.6 diesel in Sport specification priced at 18,692 — not cheap, but value for money in real terms when you consider the versatility this vehicle offers.

I had a brief first test drive prior to the 3008's launch in November and whilst the new Peugeot's rounded styling didn't impress all the motoring media, I found it more acceptable than the heavily-nosed 308 range from which the 3008 is derived.

What impressed me most was the vehicle's do-it-all nature. The 'high up' command seating positions give excellent visibility, it is roomy, very comfortable and certainly the higher quality Peugeot has promised seems to be there. It also drives very well and, thanks to its relatively compact 4,365mm length, is easy to park. Although it has the looks of an SUV, it is currently only available with front two-wheel drive. Its 1,639mm height means it will pass under car park barriers and it fits inside a domestic garage. The 1,837mm width also means it's a good size for car parking spaces.

For my annual festive season trip to play Santa Claus carrying presents to and from France, I used the new 3008 because on paper, and after my brief initial test drive, I felt it would meet all my needs for seating, comfort, load carrying options and efficient travel costs.

In reality it exceeded all my expectations because the 110bhp diesel unit mated with the six-speed gearbox makes effective use of the 177 to 192lb ft of torque (with overboost mode) from just 1,750rpm, making it responsive to drive.

The real-life 49mpg for all types of driving, from slow-moving queues for the ferry to motorway and autoroute travel to the usual trips down winding French lanes, was impressive. And with a road tax bill of 120 a year, it also makes good financial sense.

The bottom line is that the 3008 is a really easy vehicle to drive and it's a nice environment to travel in because of its sumptuous interior and really comfortable ride. It is a real multi-purpose vehicle whether the owner requires it as a family vehicle or it is used for mileage business work or even if it is just a vehicle for active couples young or old. There is really nothing not to like about it and it provided a really enjoyable week's motoring.

Just for the record the equipment levels are high as well — all part of the very good package. All models have the really clever split tailgate; the upper section opens upwards for easy access and then the bottom part folds down as well for easy loading of heavier items — or the family dog! Then there is the multiflex load area, where the load floor can be located in three positions to suit carrying needs and, of course, the rear seats also fold flat to increase the carrying space from 512 to 1,604 litres.

All models have air conditioning, electric front side windows and door mirrors, electronic stability programme, 17-inch wheels, cloth trim, a good sound system, electronic parking brake and a Euro NCAP five-star safety rating. The Sport trim — Sport being style not sports performance or lowered and hard riding suspension — adds alloy wheels, a really useful rear parking aid, cruise control with speed limiter, height adjustable front passenger seat, colour-coded exterior and leather-bound steering wheel.

The only two options I would add would be Peugeot's 450 Grip Control, an electric differential system that feeds power to the front wheel with the most grip which is good for mild off-road driving and coping with ice, snow and mud on road and with better traction for towing. I would also select the excellent, easy to use and more importantly, accurate, Connect Navigation system which adds another 695 to the price.

While there's so much about the 3008 that's good, there are a few minor gripes: the 450 Grip Control should be standard and there are side and rear quarter blind spots. On the plus side, it's a practical, user-friendly design with a roomy versatile interior and large load space. It's also comfortable, well equipped and has excellent handling control for a tall vehicle.

I'd certainly like to find the keys for a Peugeot 3008 under the Christmas tree in two weeks time. Unlikely, but I can always hope. — David Miles

Peugeot 3008 Sport HDi 110 | 18,692
Maximum speed: 112mph | 0-62mph: 12.2 seconds | Overall MPG: 49mpg
Power: 110bhp | Torque: 177-192lb ft | CO2 137g/km