Peugeot has been particularly clever with its new 4008.
Instead of slavishly sticking to the Mitsubishi donor car's basic body parts and merely sticking a company grille and a few badges on it, as it did with the Outlander- derived 4007, its styling department has managed to disguise the ASX basics and give its new C-segment crossover a look of its own.
Thus, instead of looking like a Mitsubishi with a lion badge on its nose, the 4008 really does seem like a Peugeot original, despite retaining the best parts of the Japanese company's popular light SUV.
By designing an arrowhead- shaped applique for the rearmost side windows, where they interface with the D-pillars, Peugeot has given the 4008's side- profile a much more individual look, though eagle-eyed autophiles will still pick up the original Mitsubishi's distinctive side- creases.
Up front, Peugeot has worked its new chrome-rimmed floating trapezoid grille neatly into the car's nose, where a pair of fashionably angry headlamps connects directly with it above a pair of stacked intake vents, the upper halves of which are rimmed with brightwork too.
The whole effect is very impressive, with a dark plastic front chin protector linking to a similarly finished rear valance, side skirts and wheel-arch liners.
Ironically, as with its new 208 model, Peugeot is not considering diesels for its New Zealand-bound 4008s, despite there being a choice of two compression-ignition and two petrol units for other markets. The irony is that Mitsubishi is to introduce a diesel version of the 4008's ASX donor car later this year.
The sole powertrain for New Zealand-bound 4008s will be Mitsubishi's familiar 110kW 2.0-litre injected petrol four, coupled to the company's Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which has a seven-step manual set-up, that uses steering column mounted shift paddles.
Most 4008s will be front-drive versions, with only the top- specification model taking all- wheel-drive, using a three-position switchable 2WD - 4WD - 4WDLock button on the centre tunnel.
The 4008 is more compact than the established 4007 with 30 cm shorter overhangs front and rear. Thus not surprisingly, the 4008 loses the 4007's seven-seat facility, but that reflects the fact that the car is designed to be the sort of vehicle that a previous C-segment hatch owner might upsize to, perhaps as the children grow up and the car becomes more of a lifestyle choice than a mere mode of transport.
This is reflected by the fact that the entry-point for the 4008 2WD 'Active' is just $37,990 - not much more than Japanese companies are asking for 1.8-litre hatchbacks.
For that sticker, you still get 16-inch alloy wheels, seven airbags, ABS, a stability programme, cruise control, automatic air conditioning, rear parking sensors, BlueTooth and a six-speaker USB- and iPod- compatible single-CD sound system. A touch posher, with 18-inch alloys, chrome sills and a shaded glass 'Cielo' roof is the 'Allure', at $39,990, while the Allure 4x4, which asks $44,990, adds all-wheel-drive, leather trim and heated front seating.
As with the Outlander-derived 4007, the 4008 feels a little different to its donor car on the road. It's firmer in terms of ride and a little nimbler, though it retains the Mitsubishi's remarkable levels of refinement and on-road quietness.
Using the 4WD-Lock setting, it's even quite useful in the dirt.
Using a pleasingly arduous off- road track to exercise the car in rough-going, I was surprised how energetic and effective the car felt when taken there. It could be lugged at surprisingly low velocities on very steep going, with no confusion from the CVT, and plenty of feel from the underpinnings.
The car could do with some form of Hill Descent Control however, as it's always good to be able to come down from a hard climb as decorously as you got up there.
When Peugeot first said that it expected a good number of 307 and 308 owners to step into the 4008, with thecar realising from 300 to 400 sales annually, I wasn't sure. Then they told me the starting price - and it all made sense, despite the absence of a diesel.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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