Irritated confusion, or perhaps confused irritation, has been expressed here several times recently in the matter of three-cylinder engines. It’s not that I have a problem with them as such. The motor industry is now packed to the rafters with the things, and while some are better than others there is not a single one I don’t like.
The problem is that although their light and compact nature should be a dynamic plus point, several manufacturers somehow manage to get it horribly wrong and produce three-cylinder cars which are significantly worse to drive than their four-cylinder equivalents. I don’t know how this happens, but it does.
Not always, though. The Peugeot 3008 is a fine example of how to do it right.
Since the 3008 is an SUV you probably want to read SUVy things about it. No problem. There’s a lot of that sort of thing in this review of the 1.6 HDi GT Line, which is basically the same car as the one I’m talking about here except for its four-cylinder diesel engine.
The 1.2 PureTech car is cheaper, lighter and in the form tested here (one of several offered by Peugeot) about 10bhp more powerful, though inevitably less economical and with a lower towing limit. Unless I used a 3008 regularly for long-distance trips I would choose it rather than the diesel every day and twice on Sundays. The diesel isn’t bad to drive, but the PureTech is just wonderful.
You can feel even when driving through a car park that the lower nose weight gives the front end much less work to do. In town this 3008 is smooth and light. On motorways it’s very quiet. On country roads it’s very composed and can be driven heartily through corners with no fear that grip will be lost.
It’s so good, in fact, that Peugeot’s current practice of fitting tiny steering wheels to its cars, which at first sight is far less appropriate for a medium-sized SUV than for, say, a 208, seems entirely appropriate. I would even suggest that a larger wheel might spoil the 3008 PureTech, since it could exaggerate clumsy hand movements and make the car less fun to drive.
There are several 3008s to choose from, but in my experience the four PureTech models (three of them less well-equipped but cheaper than this one) are the ones to go for.
Engine size 1199cc
Top speed 117mph
0-62mph 10.8 seconds
Fuel economy 55.4mpg combined
CO2 emissions 117g/km
Towing capacity 1400kg (braked)
Euro NCAP (2016) Overall 5 stars Adult occupant 86% Child occupant 85% Pedestrian 67% Safety assist 58%
Information correct at publication date