Fiat 500X VS Peugeot 3008
- Fun looks
- Good interior
- Great safety package
- Iffy transmission
- Oddball ride
- Stylish looks
- Genuinely cool interior
- Solid road manners
- Too expensive to be truly mainstream
- AEB only on upper trim levels
- Some fit and finish question marks in the cabin
Fiat's indomitable 500 is one of the great survivors - not even VW's recently deceased New Beetle could keep riding the nostalgia wave, partly because it made itself just that little bit out-of-touch by not being a car anyone can buy. The 500 avoided that, particularly in its home market, and is still going strong.
Fiat added the 500X compact SUV a few years ago and at first I thought it was a daft idea. It's a polarising car, partly because some people complain it's capitalising on the 500's history. Well, duh. It's worked out well for Mini, so why not?
I've driven one every year for the last couple so I was keen to see what's up and whether it's still one of the weirdest cars on the road.
|Engine Type||1.4L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
If Peugeot is ever to become more than an also-ran in our ridiculously competitive new car market, it'll be a car like the all-new 3008 that will get it there.
It's a mid-size SUV, for one, firing it into one of our most popular segments. It's also well-equipped, easy on the eye, and packing the engine choices and technology most Australian buyers are looking for.
Oh, it's also carrying a swag-bag of major international awards, including the 2017 European Car of The Year title.
But will any of that be enough to convince Australian buyers to take a punt on what is still a relative unknown in the country?
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The 500X is a fun-looking alternative to the various options available from everyone else and is - overall - better to drive than its Renegade twin.
It packs a very good safety package which you can't ignore but does lose points on the warranty and servicing regime. But it's also built to take four adults in comfort, which not every car in the segment can boast.
Would you choose the Fiat 500X over one its better-known competitors? Tell us in the comments section below.
If Peugeot is to become a force on Australian roads, this is its chance. A perfect storm of the right product, the right time and a commitment to putting more of them on our driveways means the French brand is finally in the box seat.
Also, check out Tim Robson's thoughts on the 3008 from its international launch.
Does the new 3008 put Peugeot into your mid-size SUV short list? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Look, I like the 500X, but I know why people don't. It's clearly a 500X in the way a Mini Countryman is a Mini. It looks like a 500, but get closer and you see the difference. It's chubby like a $10 weekend market Bhudda statue and has great big googly eyes like Mr Magoo. I find this endearing, my wife does not. The looks aren't the only thing she doesn't like.
The cabin is a bit more restrained and I quite like the band of colour stretching across the dash. The 500X is meant to be a bit more grown up than the 500, so there's a proper dash, more sensible design choices but it still has the big buttons, perfect for the meaty fingers of people who won't be buying this car.
It's seriously good looking, the 3008, and the pictures don't really do it justice. For ours, it is immediately duking it out for the title of best-looking model in its class, despite the front end being less resolved than the rear.
A puffy-looking front end, courtesy of the recessed headlights, surround a huge Peugeot grille. The belt line then climbs low to high as it travels toward the rear of the car, where it meets the three-stripe (they're meant to looks like a claw swipe) rear lights.
But if the front is busy, the back is all squared-off coolness, thanks to a Range Rover Evoque-style rear windscreen and (on the right trim) twin trapezoid exhausts tips.
Inside, a futuristic dash set-up is headlined by the 'i-Cockpit', which centres on a customisable digital screen, accompanied by a second, 8.0-inch multimedia screen in the centre of the dash.
Other special mentions inside go to the textured, layered dash design that makes the driver and front passenger feel like they're sitting in their own cockpit, and to the piano key-style controls in the dash that take care of everything from the air-conditioning to the hazard lights, and make an appearance in everything from the cheapest model up.
Oh, and the steering wheel, which is a strange new shape that kind of makes it both flat-bottomed and flat-topped. Sounds odd, sure, but it works.
At just 4.25 metres, the 500X isn't big, but makes the most of what it's got. The boot impresses at 350 litres and with the seats down, I think you could reasonably expect to triple that figure, though Fiat doesn't have an official number that I can find. For added Italian feel, you can tip the passenger seat forward to get really long things in, like a Billy bookshelf flat pack from Ikea.
Rear seat passengers sit high and upright meaning leg and kneeroom are maximised and with that tall roof, you won't scrape your head.
The doors each have a small bottle holder for a total of four and Fiat has got serious about cupholders - the 500X now has four.
Up front, you'll find two cupholders, as well as a shallow bin under the dash that doubles as an induction charging pad. Plus, there's a storage bin between the front seats that is ridiculously deep. A USB charge point and a 12-volt power outlet complete the front-seat offering.
The backseat is a firm pew, but for ours, that just means you'll get more wear out of it. There's a surprising amount of space for rear passengers, too, with headroom (at least, in the sunroof-free cars) ample, and tons of space between my knees and the seat in front when sitting behind my (180cm) driving position.
One weird quirk, though, is the rear air vents (applause) protrude so much into the rear seat (retract that applause) that middle seat riders are going to have to spread their legs into each window seat to sit anything even approaching comfortably. It's weird.
Better off ditching the middle rider and deploying the fold-down armrest, which will unlock two more cup holders. There are seat back pockets, too, as well as two ISOFIX attachment points, and rear seaters get vents, and a 12-volt power source.
Luggage room is a healthy 591 litres with the rear seats in place, and 1670 litres with them folded flat - though you can also make use of the wonderfully European ski opening to carry longer stuff.
Price and features
I drove the Pop Star, which is the second of the now-two model "regular" range, the other being the, er, Pop. I drove a Special Edition in 2018 and it's not clear if it is Special as there's also an Amalfi Special edition. Anyway.
The $30,990 (plus on-road costs) Pop Star has 17-inch alloys, six-speaker Beats-branded stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, active cruise control, sat nav, auto headlights and wipers, leather shifter and steering wheel and a space-saver spare.
The Beats-branded stereo speakers are supplied with noise from FCA's UConnect on a 7.0-inch touchscreen. The same system is in a Maserati, don't you know. Offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, UConnect loses points by shrinking the Apple interface into a lurid red frame. Android Auto properly fills the screen, for some reason which is ironic given Apple owns the Beats brand.
The 3008 arrives in four flavours; the cheapest Active, the mid-spec Allure and GT Line, and the top-of-the-tree GT trim.
The range kicks off with the $36,990 Active (Peugeot has opted not to import the Access trim, which forms the bargain-basement entry point in international markets), and outside, your spend will earn you 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, LED daytime running lights, as well as automatic headlights and wipers.
In the cabin, you'll find Peugeot's very cool i-Cockpit - a 12.3-inch digital display in the driver's binnacle, like Audi's Virtual Cockpit - as well as an 8.0-inch touchscreen that's Apple Car Play and Android Auto-equipped, navigation, induction charging for your phone and dual-zone climate control.
Step up to the $39,490 Allure and you'll add keyless entry and push-button start, privacy glass for the rear windows and a cool fabric dash insert. You'll also nab 18-inch alloys and LED 'puddle lights' that illuminate the ground underneath the driver and passenger doors.
The $43,490 GT Line adds LED headlights and fog lights and some cool-looking exterior design elements like stainless steel scuff plates and twin exhaust tips, plus you get a different 18-inch wheel design.
Finally, the $49,490 GT gets 19-inch alloy wheels, swaps the cloth seats for an Alcantara set-up (including an insert in the dash), as well as a heating and massage function for the front seats.
Engine & trans
Fiat's rather excellent 1.4-litre turbo MultiAir does duty under the stubby bonnet, making 103kW and 230Nm. Rather less excellent is the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which sends power through the front wheels only.
There are just the two engines on offer; a petrol unit available in the Active, Allure and GT Line cars, and a diesel that's offered up in the top-spec GT.
The petrol option is a turbocharged 1.6-litre unit producing 121kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm at 1400rpm. It pairs exclusively with a six-speed automatic and sends its power to the front wheels. Expect a 9.9sec 0-100km/h time, and a flying top speed of 201km/h.
The diesel drinker is a 2.0-litre unit good for 122kW at 3750rpm and 400Nm at 2000rpm. It pairs with the same six-speed auto, and it, too, sends its power to the front wheels. It's slighter sprightlier, though, and good for a 8.9sec 0-100km/h sprint, and it will push on to 207km/h.
Fiat rather optimistically suggest you'll get a combined cycle figure of 5.7L/100km but try as I might, I couldn't do better than 11.2L/100km. What's worse, it demands 98RON fuel, so it's not the cheapest car to run. This figure us consistent with past weeks in the 500X and no, I wasn't thrashing it.
Peugeot claims the petrol option sips 7.0L/100km on the combined economy cycle, while the diesel needs just 4.8 litres to go the same distance. Emissions are 156g/km in the petrol, and 124g/km in the diesel.
All 3008s arrive with a 53-litre fuel tank.
Again, I shouldn't like the 500X but I really don't mind it. It's flawed, which might be why.
The dual-clutch transmission is dumber than a box of loose cogs, lurching from start and looking the other way when you expect it to shift. We know the engine is a good one and I think part of the reason it's so thirsty is the confused way the transmission goes about its business. I'd love to drive a manual to see what it's like.
The 500X initially feels worse than its Jeep Renegade sibling-under-the-skin, which is quite an achievement. Part of that is to do with the ride, which is very choppy below 60km/h. The first 500X I drove wallowed about but this one is a bit tauter, which would be good if you weren't punished with this bounciness.
The seats themselves comfortable and the interior is a good place to hang out. It's reasonably quiet, too, which is at odds with the old-school silliness of its conduct. It feels like Labrador let out of after day kept inside.
And that's where the car I shouldn't like is a car I do like - I really like that it feels like you're on Roman cobblestones, the type that make your knees hurt when you walk on them for a day. The steering wheel is too fat and is at a weird angle, but you kind of square up to it and drive the car like your life depends on it. You have to take it by the scruff, correct the shifts with the paddles and show it who's boss.
Obviously, that's not for everyone. If you drive it really gently, it's a very different experience, but that means going slowly everywhere, which is no fun at all and not at all Italian.
How do I put this delicately? Um, the 3008 doesn't drive like something traditionally French. There's very little quirkiness about the way it goes about its business, nor does it feel like you're compromising something (ride, comfort, your own sanity) for something else (performance, dynamics, a decent seating position).
The petrol and diesel engines are quiet enough, and while both offer not-life-changing acceleration, the diesel engine is definitely the choice for perkier response, with the added torque lending the Peugeot a little extra oomph from standstill.
Truly poor roads will send noise whistling through the cabin, but otherwise it's a comfortable, largely quiet place to while away the hours. Most impressive, though, is the ride; which (albeit after a brief, frankly boring taste test) proved something verging on brilliant. It absorbs most imperfections and banishes them before they appear, with only serious road issues sending a crash into the cabin.
The downsides? The 3008 is home to a Sport button that actually detracts from the drive experience, adding a weight to the steering that makes it a little trickier to feel your way through corners. Add to that column-mounted paddles that seem to vanish when there's any lock on the wheel, and you're much better off cruising rather than trying to push the 3008 into sporty behaviour.
So, we'll reserve judgement until we spend some more time behind the wheel, but it felt impressively sorted on our brief test route.
Out of the box, you get seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, high and low speed AEB, active cruise control, rollover stability, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot sensor and rear cross traffic alert. That's not bad for a $30,000 car full stop, let alone a Fiat.
There are two ISOFIX points and three top-tether anchors for baby seats.
The 500X scored a five-star ANCAP rating in December 2016.
The glaring omission here is the lack of AEB on the cheaper models (something Peugeot's new, and only weeks old, Australian importer concedes it might have rectified if they had more time and involvement with the planning of this model). Its a shame, though, because there's plenty of other cool stuff that you'll find as standard.
Expect six airbags (front, front-side and curtain), along with the usual suite of traction and braking aids. A nice touch across all trim levels is the standard speed-limit-recognition system, which will read the speed signs as you pass them and beam that information onto the digital screen in the driver's binnacle. Distance alert (which warns if you you're too close to the car in front), lane departure warning and a fatigue warning are all standard, too.
AEB arrives on the GT Line and GT grades, along with active lane keeping, adaptive cruise with complete stop, active blind spot detection and auto high beams.
Service intervals arrive once a year or 15,000km. There is no fixed or capped-price servicing program for the 500X.