Before SUVs turned into sports-car aping, head-turning, lavishly equipped status symbols, they were meant to simply be a practical way to transport a family – and its detritus – with maximum efficiency. On that front, the 2021 Peugeot 3008 is a compact crossover of the old school, and while that may not add up to sex-appeal, it finds its allure in different ways. Or so you’d think.
There’s something solid, attractive and hewn about the 3008’s exterior aesthetic, resembling that of the New 208 and New 508’s more engaging fascia. The sharp bumpers, heavily-emphasized fenders, and general visual heft leave the whole thing looking even bigger – and tougher – than it actually is. Where rival SUVs try for sleeker lines, the Peugeot seems content not to mask its bijou proportions.
Officially it’s a compact crossover, but it’s definitely at the top end of that category in general dimensions. Unsurprisingly that pays dividends in terms of cabin space. Adults – as long as they’re not too tall – are welcome to comfortably lounge in the rear seats, which is more than all of the competing crossover counterparts can legitimately boast.
The rear seats fold down to leave a conveniently flat floor. Laying them down is fairly simple, thanks to gravity’s assistance, though they’re heavy and the mechanism takes a considerable shove to push them back into place again afterwards.
Peugeot is just coming around to flirting with lighter trims and interesting materials in their new offerings, but the 3008 is old-school. What you get is lots of classic black plastic of different textures, mixed with Peugeot-parts-bin switchgear that will be familiar if you’ve been in a 2008, 208, or indeed any other car from the automaker in the last few years.
It feels sturdy but hardly inspiring. It's a new experience and we like it. Our 1.6-litre turbocharged GT automatic had Peugeot’s Red Nappa Leather seats, which seem reassuringly wipeable. They add a distinct luxe touch to the overall aesthetics of the interior.
With its 121 kW and 240 Nm of torque, the 3008 GT epitomises “sufficiency.” The ride on the 19” alloys is soft and compliant; Peugeot offers 17- and even 18” wheels on its Active and Allure lines, but all that sidewall on the smaller rims pays dividends for a cushy cruise. The downside is that this is hardly a sporting SUV, even if pickup in a straight line can be nippy, but we suspect that’s a balance most 3008 buyers will be willing to strike.
What did take some getting used to are the grabby brakes, which demand a deft foot to avoid lurching when you’re first behind the wheel.
As for the tech, there’s a 12.3” digital headset for the driver, which is fully-customisable and configurable. The centre console gets a 10” high-definition screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless phone charging pad is present, and three USB ports.
In terms of safety, there’s blind spot monitoring, forward collision warnings with pedestrian detection, rear traffic alerts, and front autonomous emergency braking. Heated front seats with power adjustment for the driver is standard on the GT, too.
Rationality rules the roost, here. The 2021 Peugeot 3008 makes no pretense at being an enthusiast driver’s car that just so happens to accommodate all your friends: instead, it embraces its practicality. The result is a compact crossover that isn’t as fun to drive as, say, the Hyundai Tucson; not as memorable or off-road ready as a new Toyota Rav4 , but a whole lot more affordable.
The Peugeot 3008 is as plush as compact crossovers can get, but were it my family brood with their sticky fingers and muddy sports kit, I’d not be happy with them messing up the no-nonsense 3008 cabin. It seems a little strange to recommend an SUV primarily because the fact it’s so forgettable means it’s one less thing to worry about, but in a crowded segment the 2021 Peugeot 3008 is intentionally a standout. Until you get to drive it.
Words: Papi Mabele
Images: Peugeot & Lerato Matebese