Stepping and driving into a Peugeot is a very different experience. There’s nothing quite like it in the whole realm of four-wheeled motorized mobility.

Cynics will immediately dismiss it as gimmick, and how the French simply love to do things differently, for the sake of being different, as a subtle tongue-in-cheek two-fingered salute to the established way of doing things that Germans, British, Americans and Japanese do things.

Today’s Peugeot is still very different indeed, but with the genuine aim of finding a better, more efficient way that still retains its French flavor, but loses its French ego-centricity. All the better indeed, cementing its place in the order of things.

The 3008 is built atop Peugeot’s modular PSA EMP2 platform that can be stretched and widened depending on market requirement. It also underpins the larger 5008, the 308 hatchback, and Peugeot’s sister company’s Citroen C5 Aircross and DS7 Crossback, and even the Opel Grandland in Europe.

Originally it was built in Sochaux, the home of Peugeot and boasts to be one of the most technologically advanced factory in France next to the Airbus factory. The units sold here, however, are assembled at the Malaysian plant in Gurun northern Malaysia and near Thailand already.

I had the chance to drive the 3008 from France, to Switzerland and further down to Italy, making for one of the most epic road trips in my life so I know the car fairly well. I also drove a French-made 3008 previously here in the Philippines back in 2018, and now finally I get to drive the Malaysian-made 3008 for an extended two-week drive.

And I can confidently say that NOTHING was lost from France, by way of a stop-over in Malaysia, to the Philippines. The added advantage is that after-sales and especially parts sourcing improves tremendously. Your parts fly-in from Malaysia, rather than France. The 3008 drives with verve and excitement; the smallish steering wheel can make the SUV feel a bit nervous at speed, but give it some time and it gels beautifully. The suspension is properly French: a hint of German firm, but plush the way the French know how to do it, and lightning quick responses from what is ultimately a raised vehicle. And it feels unruffled after a spirited drive up a challenging mountain pass.

Fierce lion logo

The front fascia proudly displays its fierce lion logo seemingly floating on its unique radiator grill, framed by powerful LED DRLs and headlamps. The rear has a blacked-out garnish which hides the LED rear taillights and brake lamp combination, with dual slim exhaust tips that look perfectly styled in. I love the kick-sweep function underneath the bumper that automatically pops open the rear tail-gate too; handy when you’re carrying loads of things and you approach the vehicle locked, keys somewhere in your pocket.

Motivation comes from Peugeot’s EP6DT family of engines co-developed with BMW, delivering 167hp and 240 Newton-meters of torque, driving the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic (with paddle shifters of course!). It feels slow on tip-over but once inertia is overcome, has all the spritely motivation one expects from a car filled with so much character.

Inside, the details are unique and rich. From the Peugeot’s i-Cockpit which at the time of its launch was revolutionary for being one of the first brands to introduce a fully digital instrument cluster, the low-set steering wheel that feels weird (but according to Peugeot is meant to relax your arms and shoulders on a long drive versus the traditional shoulder-and-arms-level steering wheel assembly), the oval-shaped-steering wheel that gives clearance for your legs, and a clear-line-of-sight to the instrument cluster, the canted gearshift lever that looks strangely phallic but feels very anatomic, and the beautiful organ-style buttons on the center console.

Of course the seats, covered in soft leather with a nice contrasting orange stitching looks just as stylish as the red inlay on the sole and heel of Christian Louboutin’s exquisite shoes, and the use of a heavy, denim-like fabric on the dash as an accent is cool the way Louis Vuitton uses non-traditional fabrics for their signature monogram items. Apple CarPlay is available, with six speakers and of course a large 10-inch LCD screen that also has a reverse camera display. And in keeping with the times, the 3008 is well-optioned on the safety-side with six airbags that are standard, ABS-EB brakes, traction / stability control, hill-start assist and hill-descent control plus a rotary knob for a drive mode selector for highway, snow, sand and rocky terrain. Just don’t push your luck off the beaten path. The 3008 is, after all, at home on the high-street.

The real question is, will it find a home in your garage? The new distributor, Astara has a long road ahead if it aims to convince a new generation of savvy Filipino drivers. But rest assured, design, the details, the features, the build quality and crucially the driving experience are all par excellence. And because it is sourced from Malaysia, the price is now at a much more affordable P2.165 million.

As the French would say, magnifique!