TEST DRIVE: Our man Les Oliver tries out the Peugeot 3008

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Electrics and hybrids may be desirable but right now the traditional diesel makes sense to budget-conscious Wearsiders. Motoring man Les Oliver checks out one of the latest contenders, the Peugeot 3008.

THE Peugeot 3008 is a significant car in many respects. A compact crossover that competes with front-drive versions of the Nissan Qashqai, it also has the distinction of being chosen by the French manufacturer to showcase the first ever diesel/electric hybrid

But it’s also the most expensive car in the range.

The pioneer boasts just 99g/km of CO2 and 74.4mpg combined fuel economy, but costs £26,995.

The model on test however is the traditional HDi diesel, at £22,545, which has established itself as a serious rival to the Qashqai and is a former What Car? magazine Car of the Year.

For some though, it’s one of those Marmite cars – you either love it or hate it – it’s not the best-looking - the large aggressive grille (dispensed with on the larger 5008) - is very much a matter of taste.

But it offers plenty of space for five and a flexible loadspace arrangement.

It is well-equipped against its rivals and competitively priced.

The engines include 1.6 and 2.0-litre turbodiesels, as well as 120bhp and 150bhp petrols.

Six-speed manual transmission is standard, but you can get a six-speed automatic with the 2.0 litre diesel and an automated manual transmission comes with the 1.6 HDI.

Personally, I’m not keen on this EGC transmission (electronic gear control), even though it gives lower CO2 emissions wit h the stop/start engine technology.

The split-second power dips on auto up-changes make for a noticeably hiccupping ride. My solution is to use the steering column paddles, while easing on the throttle for each change, much like a normal manual. The ride is smoother but driving’s not as simple as a normal automatic.

There’s a spacious interior, especially in the front, and the comfortable driver’s seat gives a good degree of adjustment which, coupled with steering wheel adjustment up and down plus fore and aft, should suit most drivers.

An impressive line of switches lends an upmarket character and reveals some unusual equipment, including a head-up speedometer display that also reveals the stopping distance between you and the car in front. This is standard on the top Allure and Sportium models and a £370 option on the Active version.

On the move it corners and steers without too much body roll and acquits itself as a fine motorway cruiser with little road, wind or engine noise.

The 1.6 HDI is reasonably economical, giving 57.6mpg combined and emits 127g/km CO2

The three-tier boot makes it a versatile load-carrier because you can site the floor at one of three positions, leaving a useful space below.

And the split rear tailgate makes loading and unloading easier. When lowered, it’s sturdy enough to sit on or rest heavy items.

An electronic parking brake engages automatically on and off in stop-start traffic and a grip control system, optimises the traction control on wet grass, mud or snow. It’s standard on SR models and a £470 option on Active and Allure models, though this can only be had with non-energy saver mud and snow tyres.

A panoramic glass roof with an electronic shutter blind is standard on Allure spec and with a clear view of the skies there is a great feeling of airiness in the car.

A stereo with MP3/iPod/USB connection comes as standard, but for navigation you can opt for Peugeot Connect satnav for £735 in a high-mounted integrated screen which glides up on top of the dashboard.

Other available options include an impressive infotainment system, electrically heated leather seats (£1,050 extra) and a £210 front parking aid (the rear sensors are standard on Allure models).

Verdict: With the ECG transmission the 3008 is not the sharpest to drive compared with rivals like the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga or VW Tiguan, but it’s generously equipped, economica and well-priced.

TECH SPEC

Peugeot 3008 Allure e-HDi 112

Engine: 1560cc diesel

Power: 112bhp

0-60: 14 secs

Top speed: 110mph

Economy: 57.6mpg

CO2: 127g/km

Price: £22,545