Suzuki Vitara VS Peugeot 3008
- Good interior space
- Reasonably priced
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Lack of advanced safety
- 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
Suzuki's much-loved Vitara returned in 2015 and it was a happy day for people over a certain age. Over the years, Suzuki has tweaked and trimmed the range, ditching the diesel (much to the chagrin of towing fans) and leaving us with three Vitaras with the subtly updated 2019 model - the entry-level, the Turbo and the Turbo Allgrip.
The entry-level Vitara is a lot of car for the money but there is a small catch - instead of the excellent 1.4-litre turbo engine of the other two, it ships with a 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated engine that has significantly less power than anything else in the segment.
That doesn't seem to bother the target market, though - the base Vitara is by far the biggest seller in the range.
|Fuel Type||Regular 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|
It's frustrating that the Vitara is a good car fitted with such a weak engine. It's got great interior space for less money than a Qashqai, a big boot and some nice touches.
The ledger for the base model Vitara is more balanced than the higher grades. While the turbo-engined machines get along very nicely, the ride and handling are great and all the Vitara's strengths are magnified, the entry-level struggles against similarly-priced competition.
The Vitara Turbo is the one to get if you can stretch to it. The Vitara isn't ruined by this engine, but it is compromised.
Is engine power a big deal for you? Or is the Vitara's lack of pace and refinement secondary to its undeniable charms? Let us know in the comments 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.
Not everyone is a fan of the new Vitara's looks, but I am. Most of the colours are fairly vivid and everyone seems to buy it in metallic green, so it was nice to have it in this grey/silver (optional) colour.
The chrome grille can be a little bit much, but I really like the purposeful, chunky profile. Wasn't sure about the new rear lights at first, but as I said in the Allgrip review, they had already grown on me.
The Vitara's interior isn't going to win any materials quality awards, but it seems like it will last a long time. There's nothing amazing about it apart from the fact it's roomy and everything looks and feels honest.
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.
Passenger space in the Vitara is excellent for a compact SUV. Part of the reason back seat occupants do so well is because the roof is high, the doors aren't very thick and the seat is a long way off the floor, meaning the distance between the front and rear seats isn't made smaller by angled legs. It's comfortable, too.
Which is lucky because you won't have anywhere to put your drinks or phones or your inboard elbows, which is a shame.
Front seat passengers have somewhere to put their elbows and there are two cupholders. All four doors have a bottle holder.
The boot has a false floor under which you can hide a decent amount of stuff, including small bags. Its volume starts at a decent 375 litres (beaten only by Honda's HR-V and Nissan's Qashqai). Drop the rear seats and space increases to 1120 litres.
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
Engine aside, there is much to like about the base model Vitara - in fact any Vitara - and this one is a pretty decent $24,990.
That lands you, all the way from (somewhat unexpectedly) Hungary, 17-inch alloys, climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, sat nav, leather steering wheel, cloth trim, power windows, four-speaker stereo and a space-saver spare.
That four-speaker stereo is run from the same touchscreen found in pretty much every Suzuki. The basic software is okay but the hardware itself is a bit iffy. Cleverly (and unlike Toyota), Suzuki knew an easy fix for that is to throw in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Sorted.
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
The 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated engine in the base Vitara wheezes up just 86kW and 156Nm, easily the least-powerful in its class, and by some margin.
I often joke that it's almost like there is legislation about how much power a compact SUV must have. The Vitara is proof there isn't. The $29,990 Turbo has 102kW/220Nm, for comparison.
As with the turbo cars, the 1.6 has a proper six-speed automatic driving the front wheels. You can also get a five-speed manual for $23,990. Luckily it weighs bugger-all at 1180kg.
The Vitara offers 1200kg towing for braked trailers and 400kg unbraked.
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.
The non-turbo Vitara clocks up an official combined cycle fuel consumption rating of 6.0L/100km, 0.1L/100km worse than the Turbo.
My week with the car saw an indicated 9.2L/100km which is almost a litre worse than the Turbo Allgrip I last tested, and a whole lot less fun.
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.
As has been the case since the Vitara's re-emergence a few years ago, it's a good car to drive. Light steering, supple ride and good body control mean progress is smooth and, if you're going downhill, fun.
For a modern car, it's a featherweight, but without the bounciness of some other cars of this weight. It's also quite maneuverable and is unexpectedly slim, meaning you can thread it around easily and it's not a bother in car parks or tight city streets.
It's good on urban streets, too, because it soaks up bumps and lumps very well.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - the Vitara is a good car. But in this spec, it's a good car with a deeply ordinary engine.
It's noisy, which wouldn't matter except to get anything like decent movement, you have to rev it. If you use anything more than quarter throttle - and you really have to - the transmission kicks down to try and find the scraps of torque on offer. It might be light, but the torque figure just isn't enough to move the Vitara with any urgency.
The base Vitara is slow and noisy and from that perspective is no match for its similarly-priced competition. Compounded by a lack of refinement from both engine and transmission, it highlights what a good engine is the 1.4-litre turbo.
The Vitara is slow and noisy, and from that perspective is no match for its similarly-priced competition.
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.
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.
Suzuki offers a three year/100,000km warranty, but there's a small catch. If you continue to service it at Suzuki dealer every six months/10,000km, you're extended to five years/100,000km. That seems like a decent deal.
Somehow, the 1.6 costs more to service than the more complex 1.4-litre turbo, working out at an average $516 per year over the first 60 months.