THIS one’s hard to place. It does not help that it’s French. The Germans do efficiency, British lap up luxury, Americans go for supersizing, Japanese build appliance-mobiles best. The Italians sell sex. But Pierre’s cars are just different.

    Peugeot’s 3008 is a large hatchback. Or it could be a small sport-ute. Could even pass for a short minivan. So these days it’s lumped onto the crossover heap where disparate types of cars that escape classification end up with one, however vague a tag “crossover” is. Not to put too fine a point on it, the tag works in the 3008’s case.

    It’s not a bad thing, this. On a daily slog across town the 3008 is easy to drive, its relatively compact size perfect for finding gaps in traffic and parking slots. You sit high up in this car, too, so there’s a commanding view of things around you, further helped by the large windows. When traffic frees up, the 3008’s pliant suspension, composed of MacPherson-type struts in front and multilinks in the back, makes for a comfortable, refined ride. Good insulation and what feels like a sturdy build cushion against bad roads and other nasty bits. Impressive, since the car rolls on sporty 225/50 R17 rubbers.

    Power is adequate. The car pictured here, a top-spec 3008 2.0 HDi Allure (priced at P1.850 million), runs on a 2.0-liter, turbocharged diesel engine that makes 163hp and 340Nm of torque. It’s peppy enough in traffic and relaxed on the highways, partly a result of the six-speed automatic transmission’s ideally spaced ratios. (Incidentally, the local Peugeot distributor said a software upgrade has fixed the lurching that used to accompany shifts on earlier 1.6-liter 3008s that have automated manual boxes.) Gear shifts aren’t sports-car fast, but sloppy they are not, too. You can even say they’re smooth.

    And the six-speed auto ‘box aids fuel mileage as well. In the few days I had the car my consumption hovered in the mid teens, which is true to the 3008’s miserly ways (the 1.6-liter variant’s “micro hybrid” system sips even less diesel).

    Nothing to bitch about cabin space, too—there’s lots of it. Five people need not cram themselves inside the 3008, with excellent head- hip- and legroom for all. The trunk, accessed through a large hatch, is deep and can swallow a good amount of cargo. The best part is that everything in the cabin feels luxurious. The dash layout is superb. The materials are tasteful—mostly noir but brightened up by metal accents on key places. The audio is crisp, with a display that isn’t the least garish. All the instruments and controls are legible and easy to decipher, surprisingly even more so than those on Japanese cars. A panoramic moonroof that spans the length of the cabin adds to the 3008’s posh factor. It is utterly premium in there.

    Worth noting is the car’s air-conditioning. Most cars’ can cool to as low as 16 degrees Celsius. Premium brands can go 15. But the 3008 goes down to 14, and then a notch cooler in Low setting. We’re talking arctic here.

    Other high-end niceties include auto headlamps and daytime running lights, rain-sensing wipers, head-up display, electric parking brake, hill-start assist and distance alert that senses if you’re tailgating another vehicle.

    If there’s space for only one posh car in your existence, it’s hard to argue against the 3008. It does not shine at being any one type of vehicle but it’s peerless at doing the job of many. Quite fashionably at that, too.


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