The mini SUV will be one of the first of its kind to hit Australian shores and likely open up the segment for those looking to combine the virtues of a city-focused light hatchback with higher ground clearance and added versatility.
Based on the Peugeot 208 city car, the 2008 SUV is 200mm longer between the wheels and 25mm taller, offering 96mm more headroom. It shares 63 per cent of its components with the 208, most of which are underneath the skin to keep the two vehicles visually unique.
Although it’s only available as a front-wheel drive, the Peugeot 2008 does have 165mm more ground clearance, giving it a higher driving position and also some basic off-road ability thanks to its multi-mode grip control system.
In Europe it will be available with a choice of eight engines (four petrol, four diesel). Local powertrains and specifications are yet to be finalised at this stage. The only variant that has been given the green light for our market is the naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol, which has 88kW of power and 160Nm of torque.
Like the 208, the Peugeot 2008’s 1.6 will be available with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. Weighing 1080kg, in manual form it will go from 0-100km/h in 9.5 seconds while the heavier auto (1140kg) takes 11.2 seconds for the same run.
Also under consideration is the entry-level 60kW/118Nm 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol, which does the 0-100km/h dash in 13.5 seconds and is only available as a five-speed manual.
Peugeot Australia is also looking at one of the 1.6-litre diesel options, though it will only be available as a six-speed manual or a robotised manual, a transmission that has so far not proven popular with Australian buyers in the 3008 and 508.
Peugeot Australia boss Bill Gillespie says that given the product and its segment are entirely new, it’s too early to predict volume and demand.
“The 2008 will enter into a yet to be defined market – the sub-compact SUV. The 2008 captures the versatility of a hatch whilst combining the practicality and functionality of an SUV,” he said.
Interestingly, the Peugeot 2008 is essentially a replacement for the 208 SW, which is not destined for production. The French company believes demand for sub-compact SUVs will eclipse that of city-segment station wagons and has hence built the 2008 to be an international car.
The vehicle was researched and developed by Peugeot in France, China and Brazil. The European and Australian markets will be fed with production out of Mulhouse, France, but the vehicle will also be produced in China and Latin America over the next few years.
In its European specification, the Peugeot 2008 misses out on a reversing camera (though it does have sensors all around), instead coming with the option for self-parking (park assist). Peugeot says it had to make a choice on which system would be more beneficial to customers, leading the company to pick a self-parking system over a reversing camera.
Given the Australian market has shown more interest in reversing cameras than self-parking, it’s possible that Peugeot Australia will fit 2008s with reversing cameras locally, in the same way as the 4008 (and Citroen C4 Aircross).
The Peugeot 2008 was benchmarked primarily against the Nissan Juke, which has been popular in Europe and is set to arrive in Australia this year.
Prices remain a mystery but if the 1.2-litre version gets the go-ahead for Australia, it’s likely to be priced between $20,000-$23,000 in manual form with the 1.6-litre petrol models coming in the mid to high 20s.
Read: Peugeot 2008 Review.