Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport Vs Peugeot 3008 Active

Preparing for trip
Preparing for trip

How does the Peugeot 3008 Active, voted 2017 European Car of the Year, stack up against Mazda’s highly-credentialed Australia’s Best Cars finalist, the CX-5 Maxx Sport?

Peugeot 3008

When Peugeot launched the 3008 in 2010, it was notable for a couple of unfortunate reasons. One, it wasn’t popular with buyers and, two, there was no all-wheel-drive variant, limiting the SUV’s appeal at the time.

However, in hindsight, Peugeot read the prevailing market trends pretty well. In 2010, 2WD SUVs made up 16 per cent of sales; in 2017, it’s closer to 50 per cent. Peugeot claims the latest model is a ‘proper’ SUV compared to its predecessor. It’s still only available in front-wheel-drive, but the carmaker says it has been designed from the ground up with “little in the way of compromises compared to the hatch-derived previous generation”.

Built on a new global platform that will underpin future Peugeot models, this 3008 has a much larger presence. It’s 80mm longer and, with a 62mm increase to the wheelbase, it has much improved interior space. Height and width remain the same and it has a very practical 220mm of ground clearance. In comparision, the Mazda CX-5 is the same length and width, although it’s slightly taller and its wheelbase is 25mm longer.

The new 3008 range has been streamlined to four variants: Active, Allure, GT-Line (powered by Peugeot’s 1.6-lire turbo petrol engine) and the GT (which has a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine). Prices start at $36,990 for the Active, $39,990 for the Allure, $43,490 for the GT-Line, and $49,990 for the GT.

The 1.6-litre develops 121kW and 240Nm and has an official fuel consumption of 7.3L/100km. Both engines are matched to a six-speed automatic and, to provide some semblance of off-road capability, have Peugeot’s traction control system. It has five modes: normal, snow, mud, sand and ESP off. The system manages engine torque and monitors and adjusts the amount of slip at the front wheels. Standard is a hill descent function that allows the 3008 to negotiate steep slopes at speeds as low as 3km/h.

Mud mode maximises torque to spin mud out of the tyres, sand mode provides the same amount of traction to both wheels, and snow mode monitors wheel spin to direct torque to the wheel with the most grip.

The standard features list, even on the base Active, looks more attractive than before. A configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and eight-inch touchscreen infotaintment system are standard, as is sat nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio, a phone-charging plate, auto lights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors and 180-degree camera, dual-zone climate control, and an electric handbrake. Lane departure warning, distance alert, programmable cruise control, and six airbags round out its safety credentials.

The French-designed 3008 offers an alternative look in a market dominated by Japanese and Korean sensibilities. Its European heritage is showcased in styling that’s fresh, contemporary and not in the least bit polarising – something that couldn’t be said of Peugeots in the past.

The interior design is particularly attractive and well thought out. Peugeot’s now-familiar small leather-wrapped steering wheel, designed to allow the driver an unimpeded view of the dash, doesn’t feel out of place in such a stylish SUV, and our only criticism of the interior is the digital gear selector which, like most of its ilk, is clunky and initially unintuitive.

The high centre console is well finished and the symbols used on the switchgear are less confusing than before. Nicely bolstered front seats offer good support on longer trips, with the second row slightly firmer and flatter. The all-important luggage area has increased over the old model, with 520 litres of useable space. Flat-folding second row seats and an adjustable cargo floor make for a truly practical, user-friendly space.

In all-round drivability, the 3008 gives the establishment a run for its money. By medium SUV standards, Peugeot’s 1.6-litre turbo engine is small, especially compared to Mazda’s 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder. Yet it has an impressive 121kW and 240Nm and, while not quite matching the Mazda’s 140kW and 251Nm, its maximum torque arrives from just 1400rpm, which adds to general driveability. Also in the 3008’s favour is its weight, 1371kg, which makes it 262kg lighter than the Mazda. Matched to a conventional six-speed automatic, the 3008 gives little, if anything, away to the CX-5 in performance.

The 3008 consumed just 6.5L/100km on our highway leg and we were also impressed with the vehicle’s ride and handling, as well as the quietness in the cabin. It has a surprisingly well-balanced chassis and, while the suspension design is basic, with a torsion beam rather than the more sophisticated multi-link seen in the rear of the CX5, it comes together nicely. Ride quality in the Active (fitted with 215/65 series 17-inch tyres) was compliant and not too firm.

Mazda CS Maxx Sport vs Peugeot

Mazda CX-5

Mazda’s success in the SUV market shows no signs of abating, and the refinements that the upgraded CX-5 range brought to the table earlier this year were well-timed, given it now faces stiff competition such as the 3008. The range has expanded to 12 variants and includes a new model, the Touring, which sits beneath the top-of-the-range GT and Akera models.

Prices start at $28,690 for a FWD Maxx and the volume-selling AWD Maxx Sport we tested is $37,390. A remarkable 85 per cent of Mazda SUVs sold are AWD, counter to the wider FWD market trend. Whether it’s an on-demand system like Mazda’s or constant like Subaru’s, an AWD will certainly go further off-road than any FWD, so is beneficial if you’re often leaving the tarmac.

Standard features for Mazda’s mid-spec model include a seven-inch colour touchscreen, sat nav, digital audio, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, keyless push-button start, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic alert, smart city brake support, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and dual-zone climate control.

The facelift is immediately noticeable, with repositioned A-pillars, redesigned headlamps and grille, and a slightly wider track that gives it a broader stance. The whole package looks much closer to the stunning concept CX-5 revealed to the media back in 2012. The front seats have been reshaped, and the 40/20/40 split-fold rear seat is standard across all grades.

The interior remains one of the best in class for ergonomics and finish, but, compared to the new 3008, it feels a little staid, especially in its conventional instrument cluster. The driving position is ideal, offering good all-round vision and ergonomics, and the redesigned seats are comfy, with the second row better than that in the Peugeot. On paper, the Peugeot has more cargo space, but little separates them in actual use.

There have been some mechanical tweaks to improve fuel consumption and Mazda’s SkyActiv Vehicle Dynamics is used on AWD models. The system controls engine torque and, when the driver turns into a corner, it shifts the load to the front wheels to improve grip. Through the corner, the load is transferred to the rear wheels to improve stability.

Mazda’s naturally-aspirated four-cylinder and six-speed auto combination is arguably the best in the business and a big reason behind the CX-5’s success. The engine is far from conventional, however, employing lots of high-tech features to deliver performance while minimising fuel consumption. It’s brisk off the mark, gearshifts are crisp, and it’s quick to kick down. The 2.5-litre engine doesn’t mind a few revs, either, but it remains composed and quiet even at its 6000rpm rev limit.

Although the CX-5’s thirst wasn’t disgraced, the Peugeot proved more economical, returning 7.7L/100km. On-road, the CX-5 feels more like the Mazda3 than a high-riding SUV and, whether on steep or twisty sections of road, it’s as competent and composed as they come. Mazda’s more sophisticated suspension also gives it the edge over the Peugeot when pushed hard.

Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport Vs Peugeot 3008 on the bridge

Final thoughts

The 3008 is an appealing new addition to the mid-sized SUV market. Its interior styling is tastefully finished and functional for the most part. The engine and transmission rival those in the Mazda, while the balance between ride comfort and handling was a real surprise. Space in the rear is excellent and little separates it from the CX-5.

Even at $39,990 drive away, however, the Active 3008 is pricey compared to the CX-5 Maxx Sport (the 2WD Maxx starts at under $30,000). The 3008 doesn’t feel as sharp on-road as the CX-5, either, and the Mazda’s overall package is the most complete in the segment. Its dealership network is broader, too, and ownership costs are among the cheapest in the class.


Peugeot 3008 Active

Engine: 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder

Transmission: six-speed auto

Power: 121kW Torque: 240Nm

Fuel consumption: 7.3L/100km (claimed)

ANCAP: Five stars

Price: From $36,990 (plus ORC)

Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport

Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder

Transmission: six-speed auto

Power: 140kW Torque: 251Nm

Fuel consumption: 7.5L/100km (claimed)

ANCAP: Five stars

Price: From $37,390 (plus ORC)

This article was originally published in the Open Road magazine.