If you’re looking for a small, city-friendly SUV, it’s hard to look past the Peugeot 2008.
The little French SUV is ideal for those looking for a European styled and built vehicle with an excellent infotainment system and competent drivetrain. But if you’re wondering why you haven’t seen a 2008 on the road before, it’s not because you’re blind.
In the first half of 2014 only 266 Australian buyers have taken ownership of a Peugeot 2008, a sad statistic considering Ford moved 830 far less capable EcoSports, Holden sold 3220 Trax models and Mitsubishi sold 4114 ASXs.
It’s certainly nothing to do with the pricing, because at around $30,000 for the top-spec petrol automatic, the 2008 is great value for money.
Unfortunately, it’s more than likely just the brand. Australians don’t seem to trust the French. Be it perceived reliability issues, build quality or whatever else you might have heard, despite our insistence that we are this free and spirited nation, ultimately we always tend to play it safe and for the more obvious choice.
So, let me tell you about my experience with this particular Peugeot 2008 for the past five months.
Having travelled more than five thousand kilometres, including a return trip from Sydney to Brisbane - which even saw me take a five-hour nap inside the car - I can safely say I have come to know this little French beauty rather well.
To get the bad things out of the way, yes, it’s French, and yes some French things did happen to it. For example, one of the door trims started to, well, come a tad loose and on really cold mornings the engine did occasionally make a noise suggesting the world was going to end, but I have had far worse from far more ‘reputable’ manufacturers.
All in all, the Peugeot 2008, with its little 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine (producing 88kW and 160Nm) did the job for our family of three living in North Sydney and then back in hilly Brisbane.
The four-speed automatic is the weakest link in the car. It struggles between second and third constantly and if you’re ascending steeper climbs, and it can be a tad annoying. Nonetheless, for most buyers this can be barely noticed as the 2008 is likely to spend most of its time in traffic and in those conditions the gearbox is perfectly suited.
The engine can feel a tad underpowered and if you like the ability to quickly overtake on the highway, though if untethered power is what you're after, this is not the vehicle segment for you as most of its rivals also suffer the same issue.
From the outside it certainly doesn’t look cheap, and that’s instantly a leg up on the efforts of some other manufacturers.
Step inside and once again the value for money equation is pretty darn high. The 7.0-inch satellite navigation and infotainment screen is responsive and easy to use, with two USB ports ready to power up your smart devices.
My wife reckons it’s a great car too, thanks to its reverse-view camera and rear sensors, which is a mandatory specification for any car she drives (though she doesn’t know I have imposed that rule).
We can easily fit a big pram and the week’s shopping in the boot and our two-and-a-half-year-old boy had no issues spending time in the back, sitting up nice and high in his child seat.
In fact, having used the rear pew for a five-hour nap somewhere between Brisbane and Sydney, I can report that it was more comfortable than a hotel in Delhi.
Occasionally when it's just me in the car I have had the pleasure of punting it hard into corners well past its usual call-of-duty requirements and can safely say the French know how to build a dynamically capable car. It's a little hard-riding if you compare it to a bigger and more supple SUV (a Honda CR-V, for instance), but for its target market, it's perfectly reasonable, even on those long distance drives.
After 9,400 kms, the average fuel consumption sits at around 7.5L/100km, 1.0L more than the claimed figure. A decent effort considering how often you drop down to second to conquer the smallest of hills.
Plenty of other CarAdvice staff have driven the 2008 and been impressed, so much so that it even won our Small SUV comparison against the Ford EcoSport, Holden Trax, Mitsubishi ASX and Nissan Juke.
The 2008 range starts at a wallet-friendly from $21,990 for the Active base model manual, while our Allure automatic variant has a list price of $29,990. With its city-friendly dimensions the Peugeot 2008 is a worthy choice, whether you're part of a small family of three like, or a couple with no kids, or even a single who wants a bit of extra room (perhaps to sleep in!).
This is a car that deserves to do far better than it currently is in Australia. We found it to be the best-in-class in our small SUV comparison, so if you can get over the brand cliché and perceived issues, drive to your nearest Peugeot dealership and let me know if you think I am wrong.
Alas, as much as we loved our little Pug, it’s time to give it back.
As our family is growing, we have opted for a bigger SUV, the Mercedes-Benz ML350, for our next long term test.
Peugeot 2008 Allure
Date acquired: March 2014
Odometer reading: 9,400 km
Travel last 3 months: 7,000km
Consumption this month: 7.5L/100km