Once in a long while, along comes a car that makes you go "wow". The new Peugeot 3008 crossover is one such car.
You may ask what the big deal is. This is just another crossover in an ocean of crossovers. The latest 3008, however, tugs at the heartstrings of anyone who has been to a motor show and marvelled at all the wild and wonderful concept vehicles.
The car is ultra-modern in its styling, with beautiful and imaginative contours on a sleek silhouette that might give a Range Rover Evoque an inferiority complex.
You can walk around the car for five minutes and still not get enough of its design. It is outstanding without being overly clever or loud.
More impressively, the build quality is superb. Even in premium cars, you can easily spot where the manufacturer might have given in to budget consciousness, but not Peugeot. Not in this case.
Inside, the 3008 continues to impress. There are enough futuristic features on the cockpit to qualify the car as a concept model just two motor show seasons ago.
The gear lever, curved forward like a helicopter joystick, is pleasing to the eye and the palm. It works like BMW's class-leading shift, but looks more modern.
SPECS / PEUGEOT 3008 1.6 HDi
Price: $149,999 with COE
Engine: 1,560cc 16-valve inline-4 turbodiesel
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with paddle shift
Power: 120bhp at 3,500rpm
Torque: 300Nm at 1,750rpm
0-100kmh: 12.7 seconds
Top speed: 184kmh
Fuel consumption: 4.4 litres/100km
The digital instrument gauges are eye-catching, with a roulette-style tachometer that does not resemble anything that has been applied by anyone else in the industry. Its multi-layer, dual-material fascia is also interesting.
But the one feature that takes your breath away is the steering wheel. With a flat top and flat bottom, it looks sporty and, again, futuristic. It is not at all gimmicky, though. The steering (fully electric versus the previous electrohydraulic version) actually works beautifully. In fact, it is the smoothest and most linear steering I have experienced. It is also pretty tight and quick, contributing to a high level of driveability.
With such a remarkable helm, you would forgive the car if it had a trashy suspension or an anaemic drivetrain. But the 3008 scores high in those departments too.
The test model is a turbodiesel, which is unlikely to be a mainstay here because of the punitive taxes facing diesel models that are just around the corner. But if you choose it despite the taxes, it will give you plenty to be grateful for.
Like a diesel, it is enormously torquey and super-economical. But unlike most diesels, it is unbelievably refined. It matches any luxury diesel here today, even those which cost three or four times more.
The engine and gearbox are unchanged from the previous model, but because the car is some 200kg lighter (thanks to a new platform and lightweight materials), it is perkier. Zero to hundred is done in 12.7 seconds, 0.8 seconds less than before. In real life, it feels much quicker.
While the car is adequate in Drive mode, it is a real hoot in Sport. Blessed with a coherent and well-sprung chassis, the crossover feels totally at ease even if driven like a hot hatch.
As a family vehicle, the 3008 does not fall short. It offers ample space for five occupants and a sizeable boot. The seats are well-bolstered, the doors are well-hinged and close with a reassuring thud, the noise insulation is excellent, its hi-fi system and cabin acoustics are beyond reproach, and the is climate control more than adequate.
If there are niggles, it would be its row of controls for things such as air-conditioner, music, demister - they look cool, but could have been a bit more intuitive. Its reverse camera could also have been of a higher resolution.
Otherwise, the 3008 exceeds expectations. Its fit and finish will easily match what you find in a luxury model. But its price tag is nowhere near luxury territory.