So you are in the market for a mid-sized SUV. Your family is growing and you need something that’s both good with hauling the kids and their gear during activities and yet be able to transport your family and you for the ‘Balik Kampung’ trips in relative comfort and safety. All this must be accomplished with a budget of RM 180,000. So as the Malaysian rule of thumb, you walk straight into a Honda showroom to book a CR-V. If you are thinking of doing so, stop. If you have booked on, hold on, there is a new kid on the block that you have to consider before proceeding with your purchase, the 2017 European Car of the Year, Peugeot 3008.
- Outstanding aesthetics – Inside and Outside
The first thing you notice about the 3008 is the way it looks. Of course, design tastes are subjective to individual tastes. But you cannot ignore the distinct and aggressive front end, pronounced side shoulders and beautiful LED lights on the front and back really sets this car apart from all its rivals. If anything, it looks more like a rival to the Range Rover Evoque, which costs almost 3 times more. On the contrary, the CR-V’s styling is evolutionary from its predecessor. Inside, is possibly more futuristic and striking than even the Evoque, let alone the CR-V. Key features are the Satin Chrome finish in the center, two LCD screens, and a fabric trim rather than metal, wood (CR-V) or carbon fiber. The rest, I let you decide from these pictures!
- Driver controls that are evolved from the competition
When you sit in the driver seat, Peugeot’s i-Cockpit will be the dominating feature of the in cabin experience. It’s what Peugeot calls its cabin layout. You have a small, concept car-like steering wheel, with a 12.3 inch LCD display above it. You look OVER the steering wheel and not THROUGH it. All the other controls for audio, navigation and climate control is done via an 8 inch touch screen on the center. Shortcut keys are below that using piano key-like buttons finished in Satin Chrome. The gear knob, it looks and feels like that on a BMW 5 series, but with better feel in my hands. Once you interact with the paddle-shifters behind the wheel, the gearknob, and that gorgeous steering wheel, it will make you feel like all its rivals interiors are a step backwards.
- Those seats though……
During the media drive, where I drove the 3008 for the first time, we had to use a mix of roads ranging from highways, twisty B roads, rough city lanes and even some oil palm plantation paths (this was our own initiative). Throughout the entire period, these seats provided excellent support and comfort. Leather wrapped for the high spec Allure variant, its unconventional to look at. I’m 6 ft 2 and most cars in this class do not offer the right type of support for my back. Even if the front seats are supportive, the back seats can let me down. These seats though, are extremely comfortable both in the front and back. In contrast to the 3008. The CR-V is comfortable at the front but nowhere near as supportive.
- Proven Engine and Gearbox
The THP engine seen in the Peugeot 3008 pushes out 167bhp and 240Nm of torque, which is not the most powerful output in the class. It’s however the lightest car in the class at only 1300kg, compared to the 1549kg of the CR-V. And unlike the CR-V’s CVT gearbox, it’s a tried and tested 6 speed gearbox from Aisin. And just like in the T9 308 and the 408 e-THP, this gearbox and engine combo is super responsive and extremely fun to use on the highway and B roads. It does run a little out of puff above 160kph, but between 60 to 120kph it’s very lively. You don’t need to rev it very high or downshift aggressively, just press the accelerator a little, let the gearbox downshift, and ride that torque between 2500 to 3500rpm. Honda’s 1.5 liter engine develops its torque further up in the rev range, and coupled to the heavier kerb weight, you do feel a slight lag in response in contrast to the 3008. The claimed consumption figure is 7 liters / 100km, which equals to 760km on its 53 liter fuel tank. We have yet to properly test its fuel consumption capabilities, however the on board computer did show a readout of 6.9 liters / 100km at 123kph on the highway.
- Unrivalled handling prowess
Here comes the best part of the 3008, and what we are famous for, ride and handling. At low speeds, on rough, porthole riddled roads, the car is comfortable and you barely feel the portholes. Once you speed up to more spirited driving speeds on the country lanes though, the handling prowess is simply unmatched. All you have to do is brake before the turn, point the steering in and accelerate out of the turn. The light steering needs some getting used to, once you learn to trust it though it’s very direct and quick. Added to the relatively light weight, the car switches directions with complete ease. As the turns gets aggressive, the damping gets stiffer, with barely a hint of body role. My only issue with the 3008 was that I had to get used to its wide body on some tricky driving roads in interior Perak where even a 208 GTi feels big. Otherwise, the two journalists and I who were sharing the car on the drive back agreed that this was truly in a league of its own in terms of handling.
- Works off road
Despite all the hot-hatch handling capabilities, this car really works off-road, without having to rely on 4wd. The 3008 comes with multi-terrain tires and it really shows its traction off-road. Exploiting them to their best is Peugeot’s Advance Grip Control. Basically a tailor-made traction control system that either stops wheel slip or allows in depending on surface. But the real cherry on the icing is the Hill Assist Descent Control (HADC). It helps you bring the car and yourself safely down slopes when offroad, and can even engage the gearbox to neutral for steep slopes. It’s quite an experience letting a car roll down a steep slope with no brakes but the system works amazingly.
- Safety – passive and active
Malaysian roads can be quite dangerous. Accidents happen when we least expect it and the one thing we need is a safe car with the latest safety technology suppose the worst takes place. The first level of safety is the Lane Departure Warning and Driver Attention Alert. Both these functions stop you from veering of your lane or falling asleep on the wheel. If you need to perform emergency maneuvers, Electronic Stability Program, Electronic Brake Distribution, ABS, and Emergency Brake Assist will help you keep the car pointing in the direction you want in avoiding a collision. Should the worst happen, your loved ones and you are cocooned in a fortress of steel within the Peugeot 3008. The passenger cell of the 3008 is made from 3 grades of steel, and side impact bars. Over that, 6 airbags ensure that you do not hurt yourself in the event of an impact. And finally, for the toddlers, there are 3 ISOFIX harness in the car, two in the rear and one in the front. All this help the Peugeot 3008 score a full 5-stars in the 2016 Euro NCAP. The CR-V does not have a Euro NCAP score, but does have a 5-star ASEAN NCAP score.
- Outstanding value for money
This is the best part about the Peugeot 3008. Its Hill Assist Descent Control is usually found in SUV’s above RM 200,000. The interior is more striking than the Range Rover Evoque worth RM 400,000. And it’s a Euro NCAP 5-star rated car, and the 2017 European Car of the Year, finishing above the Alfa Romeo Giulia and the Mercedes Benz E Class. Yet, even the high spec Allure model is priced at RM 155,888. The equivalent CR-V 1.5 TC Premium 2WD is RM 167,700. Even the entry level 1.5 TC is priced at RM 155,700. A concept car looking European SUV priced below the Japanese mainstream SUV.
Of course I love the car, and have a soft spot for the brands latest offering. And the Honda CR-V may not be my cup of tea, yet it could appeal to some. The point here is, if you’re going to make a decision to buy an RM 150k SUV, then this newcomer is really competitive, which is worth a visit to the showroom at the very least. After all, it is your hard earned money, best to leave no stones unturned right?
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