The French have always had an inimitable way of doing things, whether it is toting a baguette like it is the trending accessory in the latest Spring/Summer collection, or the La Bise, their ubiquitous cheek kiss.
The etiquette as to which side of the cheek to kiss first and how many times is an example of a uniquely French knack for elevating even the most mundane of activities into a fine art, one that also applies to their food, fashion and cars.
Many of us will remember the Renault Megane II, with a practically 90-degree rear windscreen that was anything but normal, and the oxymoron Peugeot 1007, a two-door, mini MPV.
Another Peugeot that I drove many years ago (it comes as no surprise that I have forgotten which model) had an impossibly hard-to-reach dashboard that left me wondering if the French have anthropomorphically longer arms than the rest of us mortals.
Sometimes, it is but a fine line that separates quirk and flair.
Fortunately for the Peugeot 3008, it appears to belong to the latter.
The French SUV has undergone a powertrain update, the most significant change being the new Efficient Automatic Transmission 8-speed (EAT8) that replaces the 6-speed EAT6.
The Peugeot 3008 also gets a power boost – 18hp up from the previous 163hp, and 250Nm of torque, 10Nm more than before.
It feels sure-footed from the get-go, with the gears shifting up smoothly in tandem with the power delivery.
Getting up to cruising speed is an effortless, laissez faire undertaking in typical French style, unless you are attempting to accomplish 0-100 km/h in the 8.8 seconds that it is supposedly capable of.
However, the 3008’s turbocharged 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder engine has a tendency to go into “snooze” mode at lower rpm, especially when you are driving a little more enthusiastically, with a very brief but noticeable lag between throttling and actual acceleration.
Engage Sport mode and the 3008 feels torquier, accompanied by higher revs and delayed upshifts.
In manual drive, the gearbox is just as snappy and slick, although the upshifts can be slightly more perceptible and the position of the paddle shifters are more of a reach behind the steering wheel than usual.
Even when tackling corners a tad more ambitiously than you normally would, this SUV remains composed and takes them in its stride in the same way that a French would.
The suspension is firm, but not hard, soft, but not squishy. The 3008’s ride remains comfortable, unfazed by uneven road surfaces, small potholes and even big humps. Body roll is almost negligible.
For the French, style is in their DNA and everything – from fashion to decorating, seems to be effortlessly chic. The Peugeot 3008’s exterior exudes a sporty elegance combined with balanced proportions that give it a timeless quality.
The Peugeot 3008’s roof rails, panoramic roof, full LED headlights, horizontal chrome accents on the front grill and two-tone wheels are some of the key external features that distinguish the Allure variant from the Active.
The LED Daytime Running Lights resemble perfectly-arched brows, continuing along the bonnet line and the rake of the front windscreen before meeting the sweeping roof line accentuated by the chrome roof arch trim.
The elevated belt line rises towards the rear and together with the relatively squat rear windscreen have a remotely coupe-like effect. The distinctive black lighting strip with the three-claw red Opaline LEDs is a Peugeot signature that can also be seen on the 5008.
The Peugeot 3008’s refined and sophisticated design language is consistent throughout. The i-Cockpit interior is classy but non-ostentatious, classic with contemporary touches and modern features that are in keeping with the times, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a Qi wireless smartphone charger.
The prevalent use of trapezoidal forms on the dashboard, centre console, instrument cluster and door panels create holistic visual cues.
Even the steering wheel profile is a slight variation of this geometric theme, just a shame that it also tends to obscure the odometer information based on my preferred driving position.
Key driving information is displayed on the 12.3-inch TFT configurable Head-Up Digital Cluster.
Instead of integrating everything within the eight-inch capacitative touchscreen interface, audio, climate-control and navigation functions, as well as vehicle settings are first activated via sleek and tactile aviation-inspired toggle switches before making the necessary adjustments or selections using the touchscreen.
The French may thrive on design and style, but the practical features of the Peugeot 3008 prove that they do not have their heads in the clouds.
The cabin is spacious and rear knee room is more than adequate even for adults who are of above-average height. The seats are comfortable and supportive, which speaks volumes coming from someone with back issues.
There are the usual storage places such as the glove compartment and door pockets. The centre console storage is very deep and extremely useful for stashing bulkier items such as a tissue box and even a stack of fried hokkien mee takeouts, preventing them from toppling over while driving.
The 60/40 split-fold rear seats with a “Magic Flat” system transforms into a flat floor with a carrying capacity of up to 1580 litres.
A nifty ski flap through-loading feature makes it possible to accommodate long and narrow items without collapsing the rear seats. The 3008’s handsfree tailgate works well without misfires, opening swiftly with a kicking action under the bumper.
The Peugeot 3008 is a practical SUV that also offers decent performance within a stylish package. Not bad, for a brand that started with manufacturing coffee mills and bicycles over two centuries ago.
Peugeot 3008 Allure 1.6 (A)
ENGINE 1598cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 181hp at 5500rpm
MAX TORQUE 250Nm at 1650rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 126.6hp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 8.8 seconds
TOP SPEED 222km/h
CONSUMPTION 17.5km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 131.56g/km
PRICE INCL. COE $144,888
AGENT Peugeot Singapore