As far as Peugeot is concerned, the answer to that question is obvious. While the previous 3008 was a "crossover" (a cross-breed of an off-roader and a hatchback), the carmaker now speaks of an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle). Peugeot uses that label because worldwide SUVs are the most popular type of car and the French auto maker wants a share of that success.
However, the new 3008 doesn't look like an SUV at all. An SUV is large, tall, tough looking and muscular. The 3008 may have a raised shoulder line and a flat nose, but the invincible look that comes with an SUV is totally lacking.
Instead, Peugeot interprets the SUV concept in its own way with modern, elegant lines. The bonnet and the roof seem to float above the car and the raising line along the rear side window gives the 3008 a unique character. And whichever colour is selected: the 3008 looks gorgeous!
There's not a trace of adventure in the cabin either. Don't expect weather resistant materials, a compass, extra hand rails or anything that hints of the great outdoors. That's because every new Peugeot features the so-called "i-Cockpit", and so does the 3008.
The i-Cockpit resembles the cockpit of a sports car; where the driver sits upright, close to a tiny steering wheel. Thanks to that small steering wheel and the unusual seating position, the dials could be mounted above the steering wheel instead of behind it. This makes for better visibility and a better seating position (active, which means more in control of the vehicle).
The 3008 is easier to walk into and has a higher seating position than the average hatchback. Despite this, Peugeot managed to translate the i-Cockpit concept to the 3008 and it works wonders for the car. The i-Cockpit alone is a good reason to opt for the 3008!
The cabin looks good as well. While unusual, the basic spec cars look better (panels upholstered with great looking cloth instead of tacky wood) and are more charming than the more expensive versions. The space in both the front and rear is good.
The setup with toggle switches combined with a touch screen requires some getting used to, but in the end it's all fine. The huge number of functions (audio, communication, satnav, massage, ambient lighting, parfumeur, safety) are relatively easy to operate. However, it is a problem that the "back" button is sometimes replaced by the "delete" button, which means one could accidentally discard a planned route.
The optional high-end audio system from the French specialist "Focal" deserves a special mention. Keeping the modest price in mind, the sound quality is excellent.
Thanks to the unusual seating position and the tiny steering wheel, driving the 3008 is a special experience. A flick of the wrist suffices to take a corner and that gives an unmistakable feeling of superiority about the car. On top of that the underpinning is sporty and firm, which ensures minimal body roll. Small changes in direction or small bumps in the road are clearly communicated to the driver, who therefore knows exactly what's going on between the tyres and the tarmac.
At the same time, the springs are long enough to ensure comfort on bad surfaces. In this clever way the 3008 offers comfort when required, while being sporty as long as possible. In this way the 3008 once again clearly distinguishes itself from its rivals, and in a very positive way.
When it comes to power trains Peugeot is less innovative. The 3008 is powered by familiar "PureTech" petrol engines and "BlueHDi" diesel engines, which can also be found on many other Peugeot models. They always power the front wheels. Despite the SUV claim by Peugeot, the 3008 is not available with four-wheel drive.
For this test drive four different engines were tried. First the top diesel was driven: the 180 PS / 400 Nm strong 2.0 litre with a six-speed automatic gearbox. As expected, it performs very well. Thanks to the massive torque this top dog performs with ease, giving it a certain greatness. It's remarkable that even on a very demanding route the car was still frugal with a fuel consumption of 5.9 litres per 100 km (40 mpg).
In city traffic and at low speeds the 120 PS / 300 Nm 1.6 litre engine is almost as convincing. Only during accelerating on the motorway the difference with the stronger engine becomes clear. Because the smaller diesel has to work harder to perform, it was also harder to drive efficiently.
The strongest petrol engine has a displacement of 1.6 litre and thanks to a turbocharger it develops 165 PS / 240 Nm. This so-called "e-THP" is very quiet (pressing the "sport" button abruptly ends this) and is torque strong as well. Don't expect lightening performance, but instead calm and quiet. The six-speed automatic understands what the driver wants and therefore really adds to the privileged feeling of driving a top-spec version.
However, the favourite of Autozine is the smallest, lightest and cheapest petrol engine on the list: the 1.2 litre "PureTech". It only has three cylinders instead of the more usual four, but charms with an eagerness that lacks from the other power trains. On paper, performance might be modest; it feels very differently in real life!
To make things even more exciting, this petrol engine can be combined with "Grip Control". Bespoke mud and snow tyres in combination with an altered traction control provide extra grip in mud, snow or sand. Of course this isn't a replacement for true four-wheel drive, but it does make the 3008 more capable than a basic front-wheel drive car.
Peugeot introduces the second generation of the 3008. While the first generation was a weird and wonderful cross of several types of cars, Peugeot had a more clear vision for the new 3008. The 3008 focusses on style, space and innovation.
Despite its highly innovative design, the engines are merely updated versions of old technology. The 3008 isn't available with any alternative power sources and the ever so popular hybrid won't return until 2019. When it comes to safety the 3008 is up to date, but not innovative either.
Peugeot advertises the new 3008 as an SUV and that's about the only thing this car isn't. The mighty feeling, the tough looks and off-road capabilities are all lacking. Thanks to the innovative ergonomics, the unique experience and the excellent ride, the 3008 is an SUV with a unique French twist.