PEUGEOT 2008 REVIEW
What’s hot: Spunky style, well-priced and surprisingly roomy inside.
What’s not: Base model underpowered, outdated four-speed auto, warms up under the sunroof.
X-FACTOR: Small outside, big inside, and some added versatility for young urban families and ‘empty-nesters’.
Vehicle style: light SUV / Crossover
Price: Active from $21,990, Allure from $28,990, Outdoor from $31,990
60kW/118Nm 1.2 petrol 3cyl | 5sp MT
88kW/160Nm 1.6 petrol 4cyl | 5sp MT or 4sp AT
68kW/230Nm 1.6 e-HDi diesel | 5sp MT
Fuel consumption listed:
Active 1.2 litre 4.9 l/100km
Allure 1.6 litre 5.9 l/100km
Outdoor 1.6 diesel 4.0 l/100km
Peugeot’s sub-compact 2008 SUV hits this market with a sub-compact price to match.
The segment is suddenly exploding.
But don’t be mistaken by the SUV tag; all three models in the Peugeot 2008 range are front-wheel-drive only.
Entry to the range is the Active which is powered by either a 1.2-litre VTi petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission, or, at $3000 more, a 1.6-litre VTi petrol engine and four-speed auto.
Middle of the pack is the Allure with a 1.6-litre VTi petrol engine and five-speed manual at $28,990. (The four-speed auto adds $2000.)
Top of the tree is the Outdoor which comes only in five-speed manual with a 1.6 e-HDi diesel (with stop-start function).
This is one of those smoke-and-mirror vehicles that actually feels bigger inside than it looks outside.
From a distance, it looks like an aggressive SUV with its roof bars, alloys, body protection and big bumpers, but closer, you realise it’s much smaller.
While you might expect it to be a tight squeeze inside, the uncluttered design and pushed-forward dashboard give the cabin an airy feel.
The shrouded instrument pod is easy to read even in bright sunshine, however, get the sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel in the right position, and it obscures the bottom of the gauges.
For layout and style, the 2008 is very similar to the 208, except for the blue mood lighting and the aircraft-style handbrake (which is a gimmick rather than having any practical advantage).
Adding to the airy feel is the convex rear roof line and the massive sunroof in the Allure and Outdoor.
The seats have good support with bolsters that hold you in place and there’s quite generous head, shoulder and legroom in the back for a couple of tall adults. With upright seating, there is room inside for four – no problem.
Not only is the passenger compartment open and airy, but so is the cargo area.
It has a low-loading rear lip with easy, wide access, a flat floor and plenty of places to anchor luggage.
Peugeot claims 410 litres of space with seats up, fold the back seats down flat and it becomes a cavernous and very useful 1400 litres.
Each in the 2008 range is also well-featured.
The based-model Active comes with Bluetooth phone and music streaming, a 7-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system, daytime running lights, roof bars, six airbags, alloys, rear camera and rear sensors.
Allure adds sat-nav, panoramic sunroof, auto wipers and lights, tinted rear windows, dual-zone aircon and leather/cloth seats.
Outdoor comes with 17-inch alloys and “grip control” which is a new electronic stability control system for front-wheel drive to conquer light off-road duties in snow, mud and sand.
Options include satnav ($1500) for Active and heated leather seats ($2000) for Allure and Outdoor.
ON THE ROAD
The 2008 shares 67 percent of its underpinnings with Peugeot’s 208 hatch, but is 200mm longer and 96mm higher.
This means it has higher ground clearance and a high driving position.
But rather than feeling like you are sitting up on a rocking horse, the 2008 is quite stable. Even on some of the bumpier roads at launch we found the handling nimble with light and crisp steering.
Up-front is a 'pseudo' MacPherson-strut front end with off-centre shocks (putting less unsprung weight over the front wheels) with a torsion beam rear.
It is not as well-balanced at the back-end and occasionally trips over high-frequency bumps such as corrugations.
But as a whole, the suspension is well-damped and more than a match for the drivetrain.
And this is where the Peugeot slightly misses the mark.
• 2008 Active 1.2-litre VTi manual - 60kW/118Nm
The 1.2 litre VTi engine in the entry Active really struggles.
It may be economical at a claimed 4.9 l/100km (on 95 RON), but it will inevitably be higher than that in the real world as drivers rev it for results.
It takes 13.5 seconds to get up to 100km/h and on a highway merge we struggled to come up to speed with the surrounding traffic.
On hills, you have to drop it back to fourth and even third, keeping the revs running high.
The manual gearshift also feels rather cheap and coarse and the throw to first, third and fifth is a bit of a reach.
• 2008 Allure 1.6-litre VTi manual and auto - 88kW/160Nm
The Allure with four-speed automatic and 1.6-litre engine is also rather sluggish despite having only a lightweight 1053kg to shift. (The Active model is also available with auto and 1.6-litre engine.)
Fuel economy is claimed to be 6.5 l/100km, but again you have to rev hard for a prompt response. And then the outdated four-speed box hunts for cogs, changes its mind and darts backward and forward between gears.
It could easily do with five-speeds and more positive changes.
The pick of the petrol models is the manual 1.6-litre Allure which has much crisper response and doesn’t need to be held in gear until it hits the limiter.
Its claimed economy figures of 5.9 l/100km therefore look more realistic.
• 2008 Outdoor 1.6-litre e-HDi diesel manual - 68kW/230Nm
However, it’s an opportunity lost that it doesn’t have an auto option.
Still, the engine has ample torque (pulling from as low as 1600rpm) and you can stir the box gently and lazily – or even skip gears – and accelerate promptly up to highway speed in 11.5 seconds.
Around town it can be left in fourth or even fifth without complaint. On the highway, you tend to forget it’s a manual and just prowl around in top gear.
For those who do break away from the city limits, they will find it a comfortable tourer.
Off-road, there are various traction control settings available in the up-specced Outdoor to help things, even sand control (which maintains slow wheel rotation), but, FWD only, it’s a light duty off-roader at best.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
There is a lot to like, including the price of entry, with Peugeot’s cute little 2008.
On road, it gives the impression its chassis and suspension are capable of handling much more powerful engines than fitted here, such as the 208 GTi’s turbo mill.
Now that would be a great car.
As it is, Peugeot’s 2008 is well-built and fun to drive but hampered by an outdated four-speed auto and an entry-level petrol engine that’s not quite up to the task.
Fortunately, the diesel is a better proposition, but you pay for it.
If you are after a compact yet spacious city car with B-road touring capabilities for up to four adults with some luggage, the new sub-compact SUV class is calling.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- 2008 1.2 VTi Active Petrol manual - $21,990
- 2008 1.6 VTi Active Petrol automatic - $24,990
- 2008 1.6 VTi Allure Petrol manual - $27,990
- 2008 1.6 VTi Allure Petrol automatic - $29,990
- 2008 1.6 e-HDi Diesel Outdoor manual - $31,990