Since my last outing in the somewhat ill-conceived Audi, there has been a slight change of circumstance for Mrs Toad, Mr Toad (aka Michael Gove) having been promoted to Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
At first I worried that this might represent a conflict of interest. Having a petrolhead for a wife is perhaps not the best look for a man charged with advancing the government’s blueprint for tackling climate change. But since the ban on new petrol and diesel engines doesn’t come into force until 2040, I am fairly confident that I can continue to dispense my duties for a while longer without causing too much embarrassment (well, no more than normal, at any rate).
And besides, the next few years are going to be crucial in the development of carbon neutral technology. I can’t wait to find out what manufacturers have got in store.
In the spirit of the new regime, then, I bring you one of the most fuel-efficient new family cars on the market, the new Peugeot 3008, which launched earlier this year. Indeed, several of the engines available in this model emit less than 100g per km of C02.
Of all the cars I have driven lately, this did not perhaps present the most thrilling prospect; but if you are in the market for a good-quality family car that’s a cut above the rest and has a satisfyingly slick feel, you could do a lot worse.
Looks-wise, it’s classy without being too showy-offy, in the manner of a well-cut coat. Inside, it’s beautifully finished, ergonomic to the point that you would have to go a very long way before it became uncomfortable (the same, for example, is not true of our family Nissan Qashqai, which sparks my sciatica if I drive it for more than half an hour).
It has a dinky little sporty steering wheel that Peugeot is very pleased with (it describes it as a ‘compact multi-function steering wheel that gives a heightened sense of agility’ and claims to have ‘quite literally reinvented the wheel’, a notion I would dispute both on evidential grounds and also for the spurious use of the ‘literally’).
That said, it does make it feel very solid and in control, and weaving in and out of traffic on the M25 on a busy Friday afternoon was much less frustrating and tiring than normal. This is a car designed as much to alleviate the pain and tedium of long, boring journeys as for the school run. My only complaint is that it was a tiny bit hairy on tight cornering, but then that was probably my fault for not slowing down enough.
In fact, everything is designed to make life easier for the driver. It also had a Tesla-style touch-sensitive control screen, and the dashboard looks like something out of The Matrix. The small wheel means you can see the controls above it rather than through it, which is handy too.
Like all modern cars, it’s quite bossy, binging and bonging and flashing at you if it thinks you’re in danger of scratching the paintwork. The 3008 also has a rather irritating habit of telling you when you are getting too close to another vehicle in traffic, seemingly oblivious that sometimes this may be inevitable or deliberate and that in any case you can work that sort of thing out by yourself by the simple expedient of using your eyes.
A further delight: the six-speed gearbox. I get absurdly overexcited about six-speed gearboxes in a slightly embarrassing This is Spinal Tap let’s turn-this-one-up-to-11 sort of a way, but hey: they’re fun. This one is as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
All in all, the 3008 is stylish, comfortable, welcoming, in-charge and a little bit special. It’s a bit like that one item of clothing you have in your wardrobe that just always makes you look and feel fabulous without really having to try.
In other words, pretty indispensable.
0-62mph, 10.8 seconds