Growing up, the only thing French about my Asian family was the car my father owned – a Peugeot. The exact relic remains obscure, but if a guess had to be ventured, I would say a 304. The earliest recollections of my juvenescence take me back to when I was just three and pigtails on little girls were all the rage. At that age, my fascination should have been with teddy bears and tea sets. Instead, landmark moments from those yesteryears include dancing in the rain and fun evenings spent playing hide-and-seek around said prized possession.
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Peugeot 3008: TIME TRAVELLING IN STYLE
Rather than watching mum bake cookies in a tattered apron, the 80s introduced me to the fastest friend I ever made and the first four-door sedan I’d ever knew. Dad would drive and there I would sit in the passenger’s side pretending to dish out directions as I listened with awe to the Doppler effect. Fast forward to 30 years later, I am right back where I started—a kid in a candy store as far as automotive branding goes. Only this time, it’s my foot on the pedal and the toy in question a 3008 SUV, or in classier terms, 2017’s Car of the Year.
Touted by 58 motoring journalists from 22 countries for its technological talents and wilfully intuitive architecture, I was eager to put the theory to the test. The opportunity to dive into more than just a blast from the past from inside this futuristic setup presented itself when Nasim, Peugeot’s distributor in Malaysia, organised a media test drive this week, which saw a 12-unit convoy paint the town Ultimate Red and colour-coat the countryside with a fresh palette of Magnetic Blue, Amazonite Grey, Metallic Copper, and a fun Pearl White hue.
Greeted by an i-Cockpit boasting an interior finishing of premium black Claudio leather, an ultra-modern steering wheel with paddle shift for swift alternation, and LED cabin mood lighting, commanding the driver’s seat has never been sexier. Add to the overall cajolery a 12.3-inch digital head-up cluster display, five-mode advanced grip control, and an eight-inch multi-function touchscreen with total multimedia connectivity.
Peugeot 3008: SHUT UP AND DRIVE
Boom. No foreplay needed—just the one hand. With the other, one may as well be finger-jamming on the dash to Randy Houser and whistlin’ his kind of Dixie, while taking advantage of the vehicle’s wide-set armrest complete with 11 litres of cold storage and a butterfly opening. If not, keep busy with satin chrome piano key toggle switches in between traffic stops. Give Rihanna a ring-a-ding for seamless entertainment in high definition and even she’ll tell you to shut up and drive. That said, permission to swell with jealousy granted.
Still, don’t fill your cup and put some liquor in it just yet because you’re going to need your sobriety to relish this journey in all its mind-swivelling resplendence. At the recent press reveal, General Director for Asean Countries, Lionel Faugeres, made the marque’s sentiments known when he said the new entry is not only the brand’s best foot put forward, but is the brand. Meanwhile, a cheeky tagline reads: “To those who have just bought an average SUV, we apologise.” The message is crystal—Peugeot means business and this car is it.
In a case of marketing made real, the test drive destination was set and Taiping was tagged. Situated some three hours away from the country’s capital, the spot was chosen for its charming heritage, a detail complementary to the 3008’s mission to make history in more ways than it already has. The dozen vehicles were assigned to three media members each, with every occupant meant to take turns to push the variant’s endurance to the limit, if so desired. The invitation to determine dexterity of drive and performance was called to action.
Peugeot 3008: HORSEPOWERED AND PERAK-BOUND
Following breakfast and a celebratory launch, flag-off commenced almost on the dot at 10:00 on Tuesday morning. By then, growling stomachs had been filled, hot cuppas sipped to satisfaction, trunks loaded with luggage, and all of 12 smashing engines powered to prove a point. Revealing its glow via aid of the gentle sun, my allotted vehicle was the embodiment of a winning smile with its chrome-cast grille and posh ivory exterior. On an equally warm note, its inner sanctum welcomed two others; a writer from The Edge and another from NST.
With the latter named to the second and the third portion dealt to yours truly, the former kicked off the first leg of the expedition. Right off the bat, he commented that the handling felt smooth. As Holiday Inn Glenmarie faded into the background, the lane departure warning function swung into action to keep the car’s positioning on the road in check. Safety-wise, that was just the tip of the iceberg. It was the offer of six airbags, driver attention alert, hill assist descent control, anti-skid regulation, and dynamic stability control that sealed the deal.
Remember when I said we were 12-strong? The formation held at first, but before long, that went out the window. Test drivers never kid around when taking a newbie out for a spin; this bad boy was no exception. Our mini fleet of 3008s whizzed by, tearing up the highway like it was an obstacle course for amateurs. Adrenaline rush much? Yeah, this wasn’t that. With 167 pferdestrke at a maximum capacity of 6,000 revolutions per minute, this was speed being treated like a gladiator in the fight pit. When that happens, either keep up or get gone.
Peugeot 3008: EAT, PLAY, LOVE
Slim River marked the first switch. The brief reunion was good for morale, but 12 noon was a heartbeat away, and our horde of street vipers was hankering for the Nasi Kandar fix at M Gulam Rasul that had been promised. With Mr. NST next at the helm of our Pearl White RS 8001, we soon learned that our trio would be eating Teluk Intan for lunch. By that I mean, he was fast and furious: swerving right, swinging left, sprinting forward—done, done, and done. Who was this guy—Don Corleone’s getaway driver? He was cool; we got schooled.
Within the hour, we were parked and hosted at a table that displayed a spread fit a princely beast. From the aromatic Biryani bowl to the sweetly curried lamb shanks to the spice-flavoured behemoth of a fish, prawns galore, and more, watching us, one would’ve thought we hadn’t snacked for a month. Delish, but dessert was up, and that was a round only this SUV could serve ripped and ready. A not-to-short cruise later, I was up and my torrid Peugeot affair back on. True, a girl never forgets her first or kisses and tells, but ladies, here’s one for the books.
Feasting my fingers on sleek curvature and grinding gravel like a boss, I was that chica in Luis Fonsi’s Despacito video for a full second. I wanted to take it at a leisurely pace, but the 3008 SUV isn’t the raunchy Romeo to be slow-jamming it with. At 160 kilometres per hour, I didn’t have to tell those other motorists twice. With LED sequential scrolling front indicators to announce its arrival and a 3D-claw-marked rear flying in the wind as it dashed past, my cyborg of a cruising companion declared no rest for the wicked. Sorry, but it was not sorry.
DRESSING UP THE DRIVE
On that note, one can imagine why this two-day revvers’ rave was anything but a subdued dalliance between man and machine. Between the photoshoot at the 86-year-old, smoky-scented Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory, our Xin Restaurant seafood dinner by the sea, swanky stay at Novotel Taiping, camera-friendly excursion to the dilapidated Casuarina Inn at Lake Gardens, and colourful sprint back to Kuala Lumpur the next day, the 3008 SUV has been the highlight of this ritzy motoring media shindig. I’d sign up for a second date. Oui, indeed.
Price (without insurance): RM142,888.00
Text and images: Deborah Joy Peter