Can you live with a small French SUV?
Having won our Small SUV comparison, the Peugeot 2008 was the natural pick for our family to use as its next long-term test car.
After the much-loved but somewhat pricey Mini Countryman went home, we decided to pick something more practical and affordable.
The Peugeot 2008 range starts from $21,990 for a manual Active model that gets six airbags, electronic stability and cruise control, telescopic leather steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, trip computer, foglights, LED daytime running lights, and 16-inch alloy wheels with space-saver spare. Also noteworthy is standard parking sensors and a reverse-view camera.
That’s the cheapest price for a baby SUV on the market and a damn good buy if you don’t mind its tiny 1.2-litre three cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission (additional $3000 for the auto).
The pick of the bunch – and the car which we’ve now spent just over a month with – is the Peugeot 2008 Allure. In manual form it’s $27,990 but given the family requirements the automatic is the way to go, which brings it up to $29,990.
For the extra $5000 over the Active automatic, you get a bigger 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, satellite navigation, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, panoramic sunroof, dark tinted rear side windows, and dual-zone climate control.
The automatic gearbox remains an outdated four-speeder, however. The engine pumps out 88kW of power and 160Nm of torque – nothing that will set a land speed record but it’s important to remember the little French SUV weighs just a tad over a ton (kerb) so the four-cylinder hasn't got so much work cut out for it.
From the outside the Peugeot 2008 is a good-looking thing, this writer's pick of the sub-compact-SUV bunch if design is particularly important (the editor thinks the Suzuki S-Cross runs it close). The 2008 takes the elegant lines of the Peugeot 208, which it’s based on, and extends it by 200mm in length and 96mm in height.
That gives it the extra rear legroom required for an SUV and the additional ride height to qualify the U for utility in SUV. The front and rear are both styled cohesively and the standard LED daytime running lights make it look more pricey than it really is.
The 2008 is built and designed in France, making it the only European-made SUV in its segment (if you don’t count the British origins of the significantly less practical Nissan Juke). The Ford EcoSport is Indian, the Holden Trax comes from South Korea and the Mitsubishi ASX and Suzuki SX-4 S-Cross are both from the land of the rising sun (Japan).
Its origins may seem trivial though what's more relevant for buyers is that the 2008's interior is a class above its competitors (or two classes in the case of the EcoSport) . There’s great use of high-quality material throughout the cabin and the tactile sensation across the doors and dashboard is noteworthy for the price of the car.
The attention to detail both in an out of the 2008 is instantly evident. Take the handbrake as an example: instead of the traditional stick-like shape, the Peugeot 2008 comes with a flat, easy to hold aircraft-inspired handbrake that adds that little bit of extra finesse we expect from the French.
Our Peugeot 2008 Allure is optioned with metallic paint ($750) and leather heated seats ($2000), which brings it to $32,740. The metallic paint you can no doubt get the dealer to throw in for free, but the leather seats are a must if you have kids as it makes cleaning so much easier.
As a small family of three, the 2008 is the ideal size. The 410L boot can easily fit our large pram and the week’s shopping, while the rear seats, though lacking a bit of legroom for a tall adult, are always occupied by our two and half year old in his Isofix seat (which plugs in and is secured in less than 10 seconds).
With the driver’s seat positioned appropriately for my height (180cm), he can kick the seat, which will give you a rough idea of how much leg room there is. You can fit two adults in the back, but it won’t be entirely comfortable if they are tall (though headroom is abundant).
The steering wheel of the 2008 is taken from the 208, which means it’s unnecessarily small, making it feel like a video game wheel rather than a real car. Initially this can put you off but after a bit of time it becomes a feature as it’s nice and easy to hold and a pleasure to steer.
Unlike the 208, though, the 2008’s steering wheel and seat height means you can actually see the instrument cluster even if you decide to position the steering wheel in the opposite manner of what Peugeot says you should do (though most other manufacturer would disagree with the French).
Behind the wheel the Peugeot 2008’s 1.6-litre engine struggles with the four-speed automatic, which results in a 0-100km/h of 11.2 seconds. Pick the manual option and that drops to a more respectable 9.2 seconds.
It’s not an issue for us as we spend the majority of our time commuting within North Sydney or surrounding suburbs, but even a small hill requires the right foot to go flat to the floor, at which point the gearbox will drop down a gear (or two) suddenly and power delivery barely improves.
Around town it’s barely noticeable but the addition of a six-speed automatic would do absolute wonders for the 2008, and we believe it’s something that is bound to happen sooner than later.
The ride over poorly surfaced roads is pretty comfortable, though the 208 is better, and the mini SUV sits flat and behaves well around corners.
Around town those rear parking sensors and reversing camera (via the mirror) are enormously helpful (Peugeot Australia should be applauded for not charging more for essential safety features, where others do).
The 7.0-inch touchscreen is well placed and easily readable even in direct sunlight. The screen resolution is crystal clear and the satellite navigation system accurate and quick to load and readjust. Nonetheless it can be confusing to use, and the user-design interface can be improved, but it beats similar units found in cars more than 10 times its price, so it’s hard to complain.
Our fuel economy for the month has been 10.1L/100km, but the car has done just 1500km since new so more time is needed to see if it can get closer to its official figure of 6.5L/100km.
Peugeot 2008 Allure
- Date acquired: January 2014
- Odometer reading: 1566km
- Travel this month: 1290km
- Consumption this month: 10.1L/100km