Mission Possible: Peugeot push for posh as new 3008 SUV hits the road
As mission statements go it was fairly sweeping. They have said it before but never, I think, with such fervour: Peugeot want to be an upmarket brand and lead the way in their segments on SUVs.
That's what they are insisting. Actions speak louder than words so we'll see but at the Irish launch of their new 3008 SUV, they made no bones about their targets.
Moving upmarket poses major challenges for sure; yet softening the burden somewhat are brand new vehicles and the growing tendency for people to buy much higher-level trim versions.
That helps explain why they have added GT-Line and GT versions with a big spread of spec to the new 3008 SUV (reviewed in detail some time back).
The marque has now come up with three SUVs in a year (the other two being the smaller 2008 and the 172-reg arrival 5008 - see First Drive: P3).
By their own admission talk of an upmarket move is "very ambitious" but it would appear the 3008 SUV is backing it up with orders - they're running at high levels. And demand is exceptionally high across Europe.
The timing is good too for reinforcement of such public ambitions because SUV sales are soaring year on year.
And happily, it looks like petrol cars are wrestling back a bigger share of buyers as technology such as that in Peugeot's 1.2-litre 130bhp PureTech pitches performance and consumption to near-parity with diesel - not to mention lower new-car prices.
That said, the excellent 120bhp 1.6-diesel will hold its own in any company and with the 1.2-litre petrol will account for most 3008 SUV sales here. Prices for the 3008 start at €25,995. Equipment levels are high and closely mirror those of the summer arrival 5008 SUV (check Spec Check list on P3).
For those looking for all-wheel-drive might I suggest you take a look at their latest Grip Control (traction-control based) system which I have found works surprisingly well in tough, mucky conditions. It costs €325 and includes 18in mud&snow tyres. A lot cheaper than 4x4 mechanicals.
For lower-trim versions, such as Active on 17in wheels, there would be the expense of having to add 18in to go with the system.
Meanwhile, talk around and about the 3008 SUV launch raised a number of issues.
They include the ever-present battle and technology to meet EU emission regulations on diesel especially.
And they said they expect big growth in demand for automatics as technology narrows emission differences with diesels to negligible levels.
I drove a GT-Line 1.6 diesel 120bhp 3008 SUV to Monaghan and back.
I think you are in for a treat with the latest i-Cockpit (12.3in digital instrument panel, 8in touchscreen, multifunction flat top/bottom steering wheel). It's the best out there at the moment. Connectivity is a big thing too, compatible and easy to access.
My drive also reinforced my previous assessment of the car: impressive handling and ride over country roads. It is a contender for European Car of the Year.
That is what you get for being ambitious.