Group test: New Peugeot 3008 v Toyota C-HR v Seat Ateca

Group test: New Peugeot 3008 v Toyota C-HR v Seat Ateca
Group test: New Peugeot 3008 v Toyota C-HR v Seat Ateca

Can the new Peugeot 3008 topple a distinctive Toyota and impressive Seat?

The small SUV is currently a hive of activity. For years, nothing’s been able to touch the Nissan Qashqai – but then the Seat Ateca came along to knock it off its perch, and now there’s a new Peugeot 3008 to also have a go at snatching class honours. Factor in upstart new arrivals such as the quirky Toyota C-HR and you have a sector positively buzzing.

Driving experience

Peugeot 3008 1.2 Puretech 130 Allure

Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Price: £24,295
Power: 128bhp
Torque: 170lb/ft
0-60mph: 10.5sec
Top speed: 117mph
Official economy: 55.4mpg
True MPG: 43.5mpg
CO2 emissions: 117g/km

Here, we’ve gathered petrol-powered versions of all three, to see which is the best buy for around £24,000. One model immediately starts to lag: the Toyota C-HR offers just 114bhp from its weedy 1.2-litre engine, so feels lethargic when accelerating. Neither it nor the 3008 are a match for the powerful Seat, which leaves them for dead at the traffic lights.

The Toyota is more refined than the other two though; the Ateca’s engine can get raucous and the 3008’s three-cylinder motor sends vibrations through the cabin. The sloppy gearbox wasn’t impressive either, and its steering lacks feel. We found the Peugeot’s handling a bit on the soft side too, particularly when compared to the agile Ateca. That the C-HR runs it close is all credit to Toyota.

The tables are turned when it comes to ride quality. The Ateca can send some sharp jolts through the cabin, in contrast to the smooth, gliding 3008. Once again, the Toyota is the surprise, offering arguably the best overall balance of ride and handling.

Interior

Seat Ateca 1.4 EcoTSI 150 Xcellence

Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Price: £25,300
Power: 148bhp
Torque: 184lb/ft
0-60mph: 9.3sec
Top speed: 125mph
Official economy: 52.3mpg
True MPG: 42.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 123g/km

They’re all similarly spacious inside. The Toyota feels the most claustrophobic though, due to its small windows, while the Peugeot feels the poshest courtesy of top-notch material quality. the C-HR is an interesting place to spend time, leaving the Ateca feeling a bit uninspiring by comparison. Its basic 5.0in monochrome infotainment system isn’t all that good looking either: you’re best to choose an SE, as you get a full colour 8.0in display.

The Toyota’s 8.0in touchscreen is low resolution, complex to use and lacks smartphone connectivity. The saving grace is a superb JBL sound system option. Best overall for infotainment is the 3008, which combines a crisp 8.0in central display with a superb 12.3in digital instrument cluster. Apple CarPlay is standard and it’s logical to use, although the menus are a bit sluggish.

Running costs

To buy, the C-HR is the cheapest, but you can’t get many discounts on it yet. The £3500 you can get off the 3008 actually makes it the best-priced model, while the Ateca draws close to the Toyota once discounts are factored in. It will also be the cheapest in the long run, thanks to excellent retained values.

Toyota C-HR 1.2 Turbo Excel

Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Price: £24,065
Power: 114bhp
Torque: 136lb/ft
0-60mph: 11.9sec
Top speed: 118mph
Official economy: 47.1mpg
True MPG: 43.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 136g/km

The Ateca is the cheapest on a PCP deal as well, with the C-HR costing a hefty £60 more. Peugeot hasn’t quite worked out PCP deals on the 3008 yet, and compared to the others, its equipment level seems a bit mean: the Ateca, for example, has luxuries such as full leather seats. As for safety, it’s five-star Euro NCAP ratings for the Peugeot and Seat; the Toyota hasn’t yet been tested.

Verdict

In the final running, the Toyota comes in last. It’s still a strong performer, and it both rides and handles really well. But it’s too expensive alongside the others, and its practicality also isn’t particularly family-friendly.

The other two are far more closely matched – indeed, we’d give both five out of five. It’s only poor retained values that stop the 3008 toppling the Ateca, in fact: it’s a superb all-rounder and runs the Seat close in many areas. Saying that, the Ateca’s roomier, cabin, better driving manners and amazing equipment levels ensure it remains the undefeated champ in the small SUV sector.

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