The 2015 Peugeot 2008 is one of those vehicles with the propensity to surprise. Never a big-volume seller (it has just 0.4 per cent share of the small SUV segment this year), it is nevertheless regarded highly as a left-of-centre proposition by a number of CarAdvice colleagues.
And yet, while we always get into cars with open minds, a small part of me half-expected to be underwhelmed before I even adjusted my seat. That turned out to be folly on my part because after a week running round town, this newly tweaked little Pug, with its proficiency and user-friendliness, proved to be a real grower.
There's one statement to be made from the outset - the (thankfully optional) Downtown sticker pack which joined the range in February, and came fitted to our tester, is to my eyes rather horrendous. Forget the fact that the garish full kit costs $1438.95 all added up, the real issue is the fact that it looks like painter’s masking tape that’s been haphazardly applied in areas that ‘kind of look right’.
It's hard to envisage many buyers opting for the package, and maybe it looks better in photos than it does in person, but everyone I asked during my test period agreed they'd leave that option box un-ticked, thankyou very much. I stand to be corrected, and if I see a swathe of 2008s running round town with the stickers affixed, I’ll be the first to admit that I got it wrong.
Read more about the pricing breakdown for the stickers in our recent comparison test.
That rather visible negative out of the way, let’s move on to the positives. The 2008 sits in what is a growing segment, one that has been growing for some time, and one that shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon either. Over the first four months of this year, small SUV sales have shot up a further 28.0 per cent over a record-breaking 2014.
Think of it as the SUV segment for the buyer who doesn’t really want an SUV. This segment is also decidedly more about style than function, and while the 2008’s styling is by no means avant-garde or bordering on crazy, it is certainly stylish enough to stand apart from the masses.
Read our full pricing and specifications for the Peugeot 2008.
On test, we have the Peugeot 2008 Active auto variant that costs $24,990 plus on-road costs. The cheapest 2008 in the range is the Active 1.2-litre petrol manual, which costs $21,990 plus on-road costs. The range tops out with the Outdoor 1.6-litre turbo diesel, which costs $31,990 plus on-road costs. There’s a sensible spread of models and specs there to suit most buyers. There's no diesel auto, and in fact, too few automatic models across the range for Australian tastes.
It’s quite some time since I’ve tested a ‘new’ vehicle with a four-speed automatic but that’s the transmission Peugeot has opted for here, and it actually works really well with the 1.6-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine. The willing little lump generates 88kW at 6000rpm and 160Nm at 4250rpm. Consider the fact that, in a six-speed gearbox you might otherwise find under the skin, 5th
are most likely overdrive gears, the four-speed automatic, especially around town, isn’t as big a negative as you might have expected.
You’d expect the manual gearbox would deliver a more sporty driving experience, but the ease of the automatic in the city (especially in traffic) outweighs its performance deficit in my book. Against an ADR fuel consumption claim of 6.5 litres per 100km we saw an indicated return of 8.1L/100km over more than 200km, almost entirely around the city. As tested, the 2008 tips the scales at just 1113 kilograms, which helps.
Sure, ask the 2008 to get up and go rapidly and you won’t be met with spine tingling acceleration, and the auto almost certainly robs the compact engine of some of its power and there are times when the engine feels a little flat and lethargic to respond. Once you’re up to speed though - and I’m including freeway speeds here - the 2008 will run along easily without ever feeling breathless or like you’re taxing the engine too much.
Peugeots have long been renowned for their handling and general feeling of chassis togetherness and the 2008 is no exception. It’s more fun than any vehicle in this segment needs to be. Overall balance is exceptional, the ride comfort is impressive, especially over poor road surfaces, and the steering system is sporty.
Everyone in the CarAdvice office who drove the 2008 reported back that the ride was exceptionally comfortable. It helps to make the 2008 feel like a much more expensive vehicle. The way in which the 2008 irons out bumps regardless of how big they might be leaves us wondering how some manufacturers get general ride refinement so wrong. The 2008 is as comfortable around town as vehicles costing a whole lot more money.
The brakes deserve a mention here too. They are strong and reassuring, with damn near perfect pedal feel. No matter how rapidly you need to wipe off speed, the 2008 will do so without ever getting squirrelly. When you’re on and off the brakes around town, there’s no jerking or lurching either – especially impressive in stop/start traffic.
While the 2008 in this spec is a little short on typical European luxury, it certainly isn’t short on comfort or functionality. The trim feels like it can take some abuse too so if you’ve got young children or pets (or both), this variant will appeal. The seats are sculptured and comfortable even over longer journeys, and you sit into them rather than on them. Up front, you feel like you’re in a much larger vehicle than the 2008’s external dimensions would suggest.
The infotainment system is refreshingly easy to work out and use, and the Bluetooth phone connection is crystal clear and reliable. Audio streaming is easy enough to activate, and the audio system delivers decent audio quality without being premium. The central touchscreen is responsive and working your way through the menu is easy straight off the bat. It won’t take weeks for you to feel at home in the 2008.
Previously, I’ve taken issue with Peugeot’s tiny steering wheel and main gauge placement. It seemed to me to be the answer to a question nobody had asked, and I could never get the steering wheel into a position that didn’t obstruct my view of the gauges. Shorter and taller drivers than me reported no such annoyance.
The 2008 was different to other Peugeot models though, and I didn’t have the same issue with the gauge layout. I liked the small, thick-rimmed steering wheel when making my way through the city, and while it didn’t quite make me feel like an F1 driver, it helped to make short work of tight parking spaces and three-point turns.
Four adults will fit inside the 2008, even with a long-legged driver up front, but it has to be said that it would be most suited to a family with kids approaching their teenage years or for the couple occasionally needing extra seats. The upright seating position means front seat passengers can move forward without being squashed into the dashboard, making more room in the second row.
The luggage space is bigger than you might think and there’s a proper hard cover keeping your valuables out of sight. There’s 410 litres of storage on offer with the second row seats up. Fold them down with the quick release mechanism and you liberate 1400 litres of storage. When the seats are folded down, they go fully flat.
The Peugeot 2008 is covered by the French brand’s three-year/100,000km warranty with the same period of roadside assistance included, though this remains half the length of cover offered by sister brand Citroen. There’s also the five-year Assured Capped Price Servicing Plan, which costs a very reasonable $369 per year for the first five years. Buyers in this segment will most likely be on a budget, so knowing what you’re in for before you start, is a strong factor in the 2008’s favour.
After a week behind the wheel, I became a bit enamoured with the 2008, aside from those rubbish stickers. Thankfully that’s easy enough to rectify by simply not wasting your money on them in the first place. The combination of a peppy engine, surprisingly smooth automatic gearbox and surprising driving dynamics, makes for an entertaining city runaround.
You could do a lot worse than park a 2008 in your driveway especially if you don’t spend hours each week on the freeway or out in the country. While the Active 1.2-litre three-cylinder is the price leader, I think the Active 1.6-litre four-cylinder (with an automatic gearbox) is the pick of the range if you don’t need the luxury of leather trim.