A couple of decades ago it was easy to classify cars: small, medium, large, estates, sports and 4×4. Now there are niches everywhere. Small MPVs, shooting brakes, sportbacks, hatchboxes… you name it.
Some of these new cars feel a little unnecessary, but where the car industry has really improved is in making large cars that can swallow large families and their luggage and still provide an engaging drive.
No longer does a big MPV feel like it’s cornering on two wheels, or require a huge dirty diesel engine to get it up to 57mph after 30 seconds. Styling, driving dynamics, use of interior space and engines have all improved considerably since the first-generation Renault Espace first lumbered onto the stage.
Which brings us to the relatively new Peugeot 3008, which is somewhere between a hatchback, an SUV and an MPV – we’re not sure which yet. For the sake of argument, we’ll call it a crossover.
Either way, the 3008 has garnered quite a lot of awards already. Peugeot’s strong engine range, sharp coupe-like styling for a large car and attractive pricing have made the 3008 something of a hit in the ever-growing crossover segment.
An extension of the Peugeot 308 range, the 3008 is taller and wider, meaning more space for passengers and luggage – the latter starting at 512 litres and extending to 1,604-litres with the rear seats folded.
Models like the 3008 – alongside the Renault Koleos, Ford Kuga and Mazda CX-7 – attract buyers looking to downsize, seeking something spacious and comfortable but without the associated running costs of a larger or premium model.
So the Peugeot 3008 makes perfect sense. While it will house five plus plenty of luggage easily, there’s also a split rear tailgate and Multiflex system that can transform the load floor in three positions – all designed to eke out more storage space and practicality.
Inside, the 3008 provides the driver with the ‘command’ driving position so beloved of school run Mums. It provides excellent all-round vision, and the cabin is a roomy and an obvious step up in quality from previous-generation Peugeot models.
Standard kit on all models includes air conditioning, electric windows and mirrors, electronic stability programme, 17-inch wheels, and an electronic parking brake.
The Sport trim we took out also adds alloy wheels, a rear parking aid, cruise control with speed limiter and a leather steering wheel. Meanwhile, Grip Control can be specified to provide some extra all-weather, off-road or towing ability.
And it gets better. Equipped with a 110bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine this five-door five-seat car returns 55.3mpg and emits low 137g/km of CO2 for very strong running costs.
Although the 110bhp isn’t huge, it’s not missed as the slick six-speed manual box makes full use of the chunky torque of 177lb-ft, available from low down at 1,750rpm.
And the other engines in the range will return a similar mix of performance and economy, with associated low costs. 1.6-litre petrol units with 120bhp and 156bhp power outputs are joined by 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre HDI diesel units outputting 110-163bhp.
Although this is, in some senses, a large car it never really feels like it when behind the wheel. In fact, it drives pretty similar to the 308 and is a comfortable, controlled ride.
It’s common for cars trying to several things at once fail at being particularly good at any of them. But the 3008 excels on most counts, in terms of space, specification, buying and running costs and interior quality.
Large cars have come a long way, and you’d go a long way in the Peugeot 3008 before you got tired of it.