The 2021 Peugeot 3008 is one of the smallest players in the mid-size SUV sales race, but through sampling a few of the range's offerings, it's an option that deserves to be in the spotlight as much as any other.

While mid-size SUVs are easily among the best-selling vehicles in Australia – SUVs in general made up half of all new vehicles sold last year – this considerable chunk of the market is largely accounted for by the mainstream Japanese and South Korean offerings that you’ll most commonly see littering our streets. However, that market dominance hasn’t stopped the likes of the 2021 Peugeot 3008 coming along to take their own slice of the pie.

Just 997 examples of the 3008 have been sold here between January and October 2021 – compared to 30,933 Toyota RAV4s over the same period – which amazingly certifies it as Peugeot’s best-selling model, and already marks a jump in sales compared to the mere 881 sold during the entirety of 2020. While these tiny figures still see it trump the Citroën C5 Aircross, Jeep Cherokee, and SsangYong Korando at least, they do still trail everything else on offer in the class, which begs the question whether more buyers in this segment ought to consider it.

To find out, I grabbed the keys to two of the more premium offerings in the range. Pricing for the 3008 starts at $44,990 for the base Allure, but the mid-spec GT Diesel you see here in Pearl White is priced from $50,990 – a $3000 premium over the petrol equivalent. The range-topping GT Sport, which was new for 2021 and is pictured here in stunning Vertigo Blue, is set at $54,990. An exciting 222kW plug-in hybrid version of the GT Sport is also set to arrive in early 2022 at a hefty cost of $79,990 – for now, though, it’s the regular petrol version on test here.

Certainly, it’s quite a handsome thing for a mid-size SUV – Peugeot is on a bit of a roll with its current design language, and it shows here. With a dynamic grille design that clearly emphasises the central lion emblem, daytime running lights that distinctively intersect with the bodywork, and a distinctive taillight design with lightly-smoked lenses, it looks classy-enough in my eyes to command the price it does.

Of note on the outside is the GT Sport featuring an exclusive black pack that sees the badging, rear spoiler, roof rails, and door trim. While the GT features 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, the GT Sport also steps it up with a unique 19-inch wheel design finished in two shades of black.

Inside is where things really get interesting, however. Peugeot’s been making some very quirky interior design choices as of late, but they aren’t ones made without reason, as the 3008’s cabin feels like a perfectly-judged blend of practicality and a focus toward the driver.

The first thing you’ll notice as you hop inside is the very small and oddly-shaped wheel which is flattened both top and bottom to allow you to see the 12.3-inch ‘Peugeot i-Cockpit’ digital gauge cluster which you view over the wheel, rather than through it. If you have any doubts about whether this would throw you off or not, just wait until you try it – the placement of it is absolutely perfect and allows you to view it more like a head-up display, barely taking your eyes off the road.

The quality of the display is crystal clear as well, and there’s a wild array of configurability, allowing you to have a traditionally round speedometer and tachometer setup (if with the tacho reversed) or with the two off to the side and vertical like the gauges in a plane, allowing for other information pertaining to the vehicle or navigation system to be displayed clearly between them.

Its 10.0-inch central infotainment display – the same you’ll also find in the majority of all other Peugeot models – is also worthy of praise for its placement, as the way it’s so drastically angled towards the driver makes for very easy viewing. The operating system itself is fine, too, and offers all the tech you’d expect such as satellite navigation, digital radio, smartphone mirroring, and a 360-degree camera system. The shortcut buttons below it that look and function much like piano keys are yet another quirk, but you’ll quickly get used to them – same goes for the shifter that looks like some sort of modern art sculpture but functions just like the shifter in a BMW otherwise.

Look beyond the quirkiness, though, and this is an interior that has clearly been designed thoughtfully not just for the driver, but for the benefit of all occupants. Not only is the seating very comfortable and supportive, but there’s plenty of room to get comfortable both front and rear. There’s plenty in the way of storage as well, with big door pockets that can handle larger drink bottles, a centre console cubby that’s deep enough to fit a leg of lamb in, and an easily expandable boot with a false floor and upwards of an impressive 560 litres of space on offer.

One thing you will notice looking through the pictures is that the interior on both cars tested here appears to be identical, which is indeed the case. However, while everything including the lush Nappa leather upholstery, heated front seats, massage function for the driver’s seat, and absolutely fantastic 10-speaker Focal audio system comes as standard on the GT Sport, the GT Diesel tested here has been optioned up to this level with the costly $3590 Leather Pack.

Normally, you’ll get Alcantara and faux leather upholstery in the GT, so you’re hardly having to slum it if you forego the extra spend. Do note that the panoramic sunroof both were treated to is another $1990, so the cost of options can start to add up if you’re wanting to tart up a GT model. Chances are, though, that you’ll only be doing this if you’re after a diesel as its the only model in the range to offer such an engine.

While the cheaper Allure and GT Petrol models both feature the same 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with 121kW and 240Nm which is backed by a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, the two variants tested here are certainly the far more exciting options available – or at least for now, until the 222kW PHEV’s arrival next year.

The GT Diesel offers up the largest engine by capacity with its 2.0-litre common rail turbo diesel four-cylinder, and it puts out healthy outputs of 131kW at 3750rpm and 400Nm at 2000rpm. The GT Sport, meanwhile, still features a 1.6-litre turbo petrol unit, but with increased outputs of 133kW at 5500rpm and 250Nm at just 1650rpm. The big news for both is that they come with a more advanced eight-speed automatic transmission, although both do remain front-wheel drive only.

If one thing defines both drivetrains, its that they feel incredibly smooth. The power delivery and throttle response from both engines is incredibly progressive, and the torque converter auto supplier by Aisin is a slick operator as well, with it feeling decently responsive to command from the steering column-mounted paddle shifters.

Fittingly, the ride quality is perfectly-judged as well, with it riding impressively comfortably over pothole-laden city streets despite the big rims while still offering enough lateral balance and control should you throw it at a twistier piece of road on your weekend adventures. The steering is perfectly matched to the chassis’ feel as well, with it remaining light around town but offering a welcome amount of resistance when you get up to higher speeds or throw it into Sport mode.

If there’s one engine that really wins me over out of the two on offer, though, it’s definitely the diesel. Sure, it might sound a tad agricultural outside the car, but that’s nothing for you to worry about inside the well-insulated cabin – what’s more important is that it’s really got some legs thanks to its 400Nm wave of torque, and that the power it has on offer is more easily accessible as well.

Plus, the fuel economy benefits are instantly seen – try a minuscule 6.1L/100km over the course of my testing, with it even dipping down as low as the fours on a longer highway stint. If you’re living further out of the city and have a longer commute, it’s a no-brainer.

This isn’t to say the GT Sport’s petrol engine is a binge drinker – quite the opposite in fact, as it still managed 7.2L/100km during my stint with it. It definitely feels pretty pokey as well – eager and willing to let you explore the upper reaches of the rev range – but the big torque deficit and practically identical power figures compared the diesel makes the oiler the pick of the bunch in my eyes. I am a country-dweller, though, so if you live in the city or simply don’t like diesels, there’s no need to fret as the petrol is still a good ‘un.

One benefit to going with either the GT Diesel or GT Sport, though, is that they both offer Level 2 semi-autonomous driving capability thanks to the 3008’s Lane Position Assist system. Combine that advanced tech with all the other expected bits of active safety tech and it certainly offers good piece of mind for family buyers.

While some may potentially worry about buying European at this price point when it comes to reliability and running costs, Peugeot does offer an industry-standard five-year unlimited kilometre warranty along with five years of capped-price servicing to ensure there are no big surprise repair bills over those initial years.

Take all of that into account, and there really is no good reason why the 3008 should be selling in such small quantities. It’s stylish, well-equipped, well-made, practical, frugal, and utterly pleasant to drive to boot. From an objective standpoint, it may be a little bit more expensive than some top-spec rivals, but it’s easy to see where your money is going.

Of course, building brand awareness and a positive brand image is really what Peugeot needs to do if it’s to see those sales numbers rise. Getting the product itself right is the first and perhaps most important step on that pathway to success though, and fortunately, it’s pretty clear Peugeot has got it right in this regard.

2021 Puegeot 3008 GT Diesel & GT Sport GT Diesel: $50,990 | GT Sport: $54,990
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Ride & Handling - 8/10
  • 8.5/10
    Tech & Features - 8.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Practicality - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Value for Money - 8/10

Pros: High-quality driver-focused cabin design, pokey petrol and effortless diesel engine options, incredibly roomy and practical, impressive Level 2 semi-autonomous capability
Cons: No AWD availability, GT model can start to get pricey with options, GT Sport doesn’t offer that much of a power jump compared to the Allure or GT

In a nutshell: When viewed objectively, there’s no good reason why the 3008 should be the low-volume niche player that it is. It’s stylish, practical, well-made, and nice to drive, and well worth consideration by those shopping in one of the most popular segments of the market.

2021 Peugeot 3008 GT Diesel

2021 Peugeot 3008 GT Sport

Full Disclosure: The vehicles tested here were provided by Jarvis Peugeot in conjunction with Inchcape Australia for two days each.

Patrick Jackson
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