IF you want something bigger than a three-door hatchback for a growing family, there
are quite a few cars to choose from.
The Nissan Qashqai started the trend adopted by the Citroen C4 Picasso, the Ford C Max and Renault Grand Scenic.
The latest in this expanding “crossover” sector, implying a combination of MPV and hatchback with the looks of a 4×4, isthtf new Peugeot 3008. They’re all practical, reasonable to run, and to va~ying degrees, flexible to suit the typical family. So to win converts it has to offer something more.
In the Peugeot’s case it also offers stylish good looks and some radical technology.
It stands out from the crowd with its sharply raked huge windscreen, large Peugeot family mesh grille and slanted headlights, and chunky rear quarters that make it ‘ look “planted” on the road.
It also has llnumber of technical features not available on competitprsin this sector – like an oPtional head-up display, so you can see what speed you are doing without lifting your eyes from the road because the figures are beamed on to the windscreen. Not only new on the 3008, this is a first for the Peugeot brand. Theres also a speed and distancealert that helps keep a safe driving distance between you and the car in front, according to a particular speed. But unlike the systems in some other cars, does not apply the brakes for you, leaving the driver in complete control.
The system is standard on Exclusive models and an option on the Sport version.
There are six power-train choices: a 1.6 diesel, two revised versions of Peugeot’s 2.0-litre diesel in 150bhp and 163bhp power outputs, the latter with a six-speed auto transmission.
Petrol engines are a 120bhp 1.6 and the 150bhp 1.6 turbo developed with BMW Three equipment levels range from ‘~ctive” with electric front windows, air conditioning, electric parking brake and ESP.
Then “Sport” adds rear parking aid, cruise control, upgraded sound system, and height-adjustable passenger seat.
Top “Exclusive” gives a panoramic glass roof, head up display, distance alert, additional storage and climate control air-con.
Prices range from £15,995 for the 1.66 Active petrol to £21,895 for the Exclusive HDi 163 Automatic. The £17,495 test model, the torquey 1.6-litre 110hp diesel with six-speed manual transmission, delivered strong mid-range pull.
It gave a comfortable ride, decent body control and plenty of grip through corners, with a high roof and lofty driving position, you get a good view of the road and a great feeling of spaciousness.
Features that once were only found on prestige makes are now becoming standard on the family car. The Peugeot 3008 for example has an automatic electric parking brake with hill assist. If you have only ever driven cars with the traditional lever handbrake, this will be a revelation to you.
Stop on an incline in traffic and you apply the “handbrake” by means of a fingertip lever. There’s no danger of sliding backwards when you are ready to set off, as it holds the car on the hill like an automatic transmission in drive, and is released as you press the accelerator.
The test model was fitted with cruise control and speed limiter as well as Peugeot’s Connect navigation system. When you start the engine a screen glides up out of the top of the dashboard showing the map and route instructions, along with your audio choices which allow MP3, CD, and digital connection via a USB point in the armrest.
It’s got six airbags and electronic stability control as standard, and five-star NCAP safety rating.
The rear seats fold almost flat down on to the cushions, but given the flexibility of some rivals, I felt the lack of sliding/removable rear seats was a disadvantage.
However, there is plenty of leg and head room, with adequate space in the rear for three tall passengers. The boot is huge for a 4.3metre car and you can organise the load area storage options with a three¬position movable floor. There’s a split rear tailgate. Though this isn’t four-wheel drive, there’s an innovative option in the shape of “grip control”, an intelligent traction control system with 16-inch mud, and snow tyres to give more grip to the front wheels on slippery surfaces when conditions demand.
A real alternative to four-wheel drive, however, is planned for 2011 when a low-emission diesel hybrid system with an electric battery will provide extra power to the rear wheels.
Peugeot 3008Engine: 1.6-litre diesel Power: 110bhp
0-60: 12.2secs Top speed: 112mph
Combined mpg: 55.3mpg OTR price: £17,495