Peugeot SUV is home-grown French honey

18:20, Apr 07 2014
Peugeot 2008
PEUGEOT 2008: The idea of a high-rise 208 hatch works prilliantly, better in fact, than we expected.

The list of B-segment SUVs slipping into the New Zealand marketplace is getting longer.

Drivetrain: Transverse FWD 1.6-litre DOHC 16V multipoint fuel-injected four-cylinder petrol engine with four-speed automatic transmission.
Outputs: Max 88 kW at 6000 rpm, 160 Nm at 4250 rpm, Performance: Max 205kmh, 0-100kmh 9.5 secs, 5.9 L/100km, 135 g/km CO2.
Chassis: McPherson strut front suspension, multi-link setup at the rear, electric driven power- assisted rack and pinion steering.
Safety: ABS brakes with brake force distribution, stability control. Six airbags, Five-star Euro NCAP rating.
Connectivity: 7" touch screen for radio, Bluetooth hands-free kit, USB connectivity, audio streaming, on-board computer, navigation optional.
Dimensions: L: 4159mm, W: 2004mm, H: 1556mm, W/base: 2538mm. Weight: 1080kg. Fuel: 50L.
Peugeot 2008 Active
2008 Allure $33,990.
Hot: Pretty car, quality cabin is well designed; high specification, sumptuous ride, tremendous value.
Not: Too few ratios for automatic; four instead of six or seven, no diesel option for NZ.
Verdict: It may have an old transmission, but it does everything else so well, that we forgive it. A great dog car.
It's because research bods are predicting that as life-stylers change focus on what they want to drive and others merely downsize, a new car genre is being formed. They expect that SUV versions of B-segment cars will do to the market the same as C-segment SUVs have been doing in recent times.

SUVs in the C-segment means vehicles like the RAV4, CR-V, Kuga and Sportage.

Peugeot 2008
DRIVING ENVIRONMENT: Taller, but taken straight from the 208 hatch.

In the B-segment, the first entries are already becoming familiar. Nissan's Juke and the Skoda Yeti have been here a couple of years, as has SsangYong's Korando Sport, while Holden's Trax arrived late last year along with Suzuki's S-Cross, and Ford's EcoSport is due in the second quarter of the year, along with the VW Cross Polo. Mercedes-Benz has the GLA here this month and Honda is looking at introducing its Vezel before too long, while Audi, BMW and Mini are expecting their own small soft- roaders in good time. Even that peddler of tough 4x4s, Jeep, is soon to bring a new car here based on Fiat's 500X called the Renegade.

It's an important segment, and even the French makers, despite being under market and financial duress in recent years, have committed to enter this new area, with both PSA and Renault revealing models based on its already established hatchbacks.

The first of the French offerings arrived last year in the form of Peugeot's irrefutably cute 2008, which as its name suggests, is based on the equally cute 208 hatch. This is a change from its previous methodology which involved creating cleverly disguised versions of Mitsubishi's Outlander and VRX models, re-fettling those cars' underpinnings and doing some engine and transmission swapping, to end up with the respective 4007 and 4008 models.


They were very good, too, but this time, with such an excellent platform to begin with, it's a no- brainer to work off the company's own hardware instead of someone else's.

In engineering terms it's a simple job, with two-thirds of the 2008 shared with its 208 hatchback sibling. The 2008 shares the hatch's wheelbase but has a 96mm taller silhouette, 15mm of which can be put down to its higher ground clearance. The 2008's designers have managed to keep the donor car's neat proportions by making the soft-roader version 195mm longer and 25mm wider.

It looks a treat, with the familiar Peugeot 'face', contrast roof rails and a roof-line upkick from the B-pillar backwards. That upkick, which is usually chromed, can be had with a colour dress-up kit which takes in the side mirrors too.

The ride height and plastic protective sills and valances help inbue the 'lifestyle' premise for the 2008, though truth be known, it's a gravel and picnic car, rather than a rock-hopper, as the model has front-drive only.

It also has a single 88kW 1.6-litre engine option - as seen in the 208 - with a four-speed automatic transmission only. That's right, four-speed, when its competitors have five to nine speeds.

But it's a mark of the car that we can forgive it this lack of ratios. It does get along quite well, isn't too noisy at its 2750rpm 100kmh cruise, and while it does get busy at overtaking time, the transmission shifts nicely and if most of your driving is commuting and touring, you might not notice that anything's missing. Acceleration is, however, just on the brisk side of average.

The forgiving starts with the way the car feels on the road. Even the upper-echelon Allure model has sensible rather than sporty alloy wheels, and ride-quality is sublimely sumptuous and comfortable. So far there isn't an entrant in this new segment that comes near the 2008 for ride quality, in fact some are abysmally harsh, with generally the posher models with the flash wheels being the worst.

That's not to say the Pug is wobbly or soft. The model's body control is exemplary and when putting few bends under its pretty nose, it reminds us how all Peugeots used to be, simply possessors of the best front-drive chassis you could buy. After a decade and a half of over-firm, and patently confused chassis, mistakenly set to provide some perceived need for 'sportiness' into the line-up, the 208 and 2008 prove that Peugeot is returning to form, with that uncanny blend of comfort and tactility that few other carmakers can manage these days.

This effect is helped by the car's pleasingly large-car feel and the meaty heft of the steering, which has just the right kind of resistance and nice, accurate communication.

Speaking of communication, the 2008's dashboard integrates a 7-inch touch screen for access to the radio, the Bluetooth hands- free which can capability of play music files via USB connectivity or audio streaming. The screen also operates an on-board computer, and, if you option it, navigation.

Inside, the taller roofline and higher-rise configuration of the seating makes the cabin more than adequate for four or five grown-ups and even the base $31,990 Active model has nice cloth trim, that distinctive new dash treatment we first met in the 208 hatch and the instruments that you can view clearly view over the steering wheel.

For $2000 the Allure model offers posher trim and a full- length glass roof with shade, rear parking radar, a cooled glovebox, and what Peugeot calls fun disco neon interior lights. Another $750 will furnish you with sat nav.

The light that the optional roof bathes the cabin with makes the Allure worth considering on its own.

Incidentally, from outside, apart from the roof, they look exactly the same.

With five occupants, the boot space space is 360 litres, but more importantly, the car has some extra, more secure space under the floor and a low load lip makes it a great dog car. Play with the seats and the volume increases to 1194 litres if the split-fold rear seats are folded down.

Each Peugeot 2008 has the full suite of active safety elements, as well as a hill-start setup and with half a dozen front side and curtain airbags it has managed a 5-star Euro NCAP rating.

We engaged with the new 2008 immediately and so did our wee dog, who can be less than trusting over new vehicles in the driveway. But the 2008's dog area was accessed in a single terrier- sized bound, with claws and paws clearing the sensible metal luggage load-lip completely, though it's nice to know that no paint would be scratched if she'd dragged her undercarriage.

We liked the way the car rode and drove - probably better than anything else in segment - and thought the cabin and load area worked very well, with a great view and plenty of space, but there was a bit of a bugbear.

Try as we may, we could not get down to the factory-quoted fuel EU economy rate of 5.9L/100km, hovering during one top-up at no better than 6.5L.

It has to be said that another two or three auto ratios might have fixed that and maybe the diesel option that Europeans get but we don't.

But we forgive the wee Peugeot such things. It's so good at everything else that the only thing that will seriously curtail sales is supply, which we understand is looking a tad restricted thanks to the good news that the car is selling like hot cakes in Europe.

Their gain is our loss.

The Press