It's always better late than never. Peugeot has always marched to the beat of its own drum, and making an SUV was a tune that it took a while to learn.
Its first in-house crack at something resembling an SUV was the first-generation Peugeot 2008. However, its wagon-esque styling, complete with hunchback roof line, meant it never struck a chord with Aussie SUV intenders. To provide some clout, the brand claims it sold only 2500 copies of its 2008 in Australia over a seven-year lifespan.
When annualised, that's just 357 cars per annum. Last month, in a year that's on track to be the lowest new-car market in a decade, Honda sold 457 CR-Vs.
However, the brand finally mastered the SUV playbook later in 2017, when it launched its first proper SUV in Australia, the Peugeot 3008. That was soon followed by the equally excellent seven-seat Peugeot 5008.
Finally, the brand has applied its recently learned technique to its new 2021 Peugeot 2008.
CarAdvicewas invited to attend the local launch event, where we briefly sampled two of three variants in the new Peugeot 2008 range – an entry-level Allure and top-spec GT Sport. A middle-rung filler called the Peugeot 2008 GT is expected to arrive before the second half of 2021.
|Peugeot 2008 Allure||Peugeot 2008 GT Sport|
|Engine||1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol||1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol|
|Power and torque||96kW @ 5500rpm, 230Nm @ 1750rpm||114kW @ 5500rpm, 240Nm @ 1750rpm|
|Transmission||Six-speed torque-converter automatic||Eight-speed torque-converter automatic|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive||Front-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||6.5L/100km||6.1L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||6.1L/100km||-|
|Boot volume (seats up/down)||434L/1467L||434L/1467L|
|ANCAP safety rating (year tested)||Untested||Untested|
|Warranty (years / km)||5 years / unlimited km||5 years / unlimited km|
|Main competitors||Volkswagen T-Roc, Ford Puma, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30||Volkswagen T-Roc, Ford Puma, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30|
|Price as tested (ex on-road costs)||$34,990||$45,980|
Underneath the second-generation Peugeot 2008 is a completely new chassis architecture, shared with other compact Peugeot, Citroen and Opel models overseas, which changes its dimensions for the better.
The new 2008 is 142mm longer, 31mm wider and just 6mm taller than the outgoing car. As for new length/width/height dimensions, the tape measure says 4300mm/1770mm/1550mm.
Among its increased dimensions, the wheelbase grown by 67mm, in an attempt to improve cabin space. It also works wonders for the overall shape, now looking less stubby and less like the chap who rings the bell at Notre Dame.
The previous generation's toe-in-the-water styling is no longer, and replacing it is a full-blown attempt at a beautifully French SUV.
At the front, everything's become more upright. A dominant grille takes pride of place, and is bracketed by long, fang-like daytime running lights. Its distinctive face stands out amongst the usual crowd of same-same-themed SUVs.
Unusually, the new Peugeot 2008 wears its model badge proudly on its nose – a historic trait from its 1970s/1980s era product that's recently been reinstated for its latest-generation cars.
A sleek set of triangular-shaped creases define its side, which adds some symmetry to its profile. This three-sided design detail also flows onto the rear, where a slim set of 'three-claw' LED tail-lights are perched and connected by a glossy-black trim piece.
Overall, it looks like part of the new Peugeot SUV family. Arguably, it goes further by doing a number on the current Peugeot 3008 and 5008 and dating them significantly. Both of those models are due for a facelift mid next year in Australia, however.
As for what splits the Allure from the GT Sport, we'll start with the entry-level version.
The Peugeot 2008 Allure is priced from $34,990 before on-roads and features a 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 96kW of power and 230Nm of torque. A six-speed torque-converter automatic, provided by Japanese brand Aisin, is the sole transmission offered and sends power to the front wheels only.
As standard, Allure-grade vehicles receive 17-inch wheels with a gloss-black and machined-alloy finish, LED headlights and keyless start only – you have to use the key fob to lock and unlock the vehicle.
At this pricepoint, you'd expect more. After stepping inside that tune does change, however.
Once gracing the cloth and vinyl seats, you first notice the brand's latest three-dimensional instrument cluster. This nifty party trick comes as standard on the base-grade car, and instantly lifts its perceived quality.
It features a stacked array of transparent displays, which are not only arranged that way for design's sake. Driver alerts, be it from the forward-collision warning system for one, are presented in the foreground to better catch your attention.
Infotainment is managed by a 7.0-inch touchscreen, which is small by today's standards, but still features wired smartphone connectivity such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. As a side note, there's no in-built navigation at this pricepoint.
The Peugeot 2008 Allure features four USB ports in total – two up front, one of which is USB-C, and two out back.
As for active safety at the entry grade, customers will receive autonomous emergency braking with daytime pedestrian and cyclist detection, active lane-departure warning, speed sign recognition, and rear parking sensors. There's no blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, auto high beams or adaptive cruise despite the fairly high entry price.
The next model up from here will be the future Peugeot 2008 GT model, which we know features the same 96kW engine and six-speed automatic. However, full specification has yet to be announced.
Currently, the only other 2008 offered in Australia is the top-grade GT Sport variant, which is priced from $43,990 before on-roads. The only option available is an opening panoramic sunroof, with a manual shade blind, for $1990.
As expected, for a $9000 price hike versus the Allure, this version boosts things on nearly all fronts.
It uses a more technically advanced version of the same 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine, which now makes 114kW of power and 240Nm of torque. It puts power through a new eight-speed torque-converter automatic made by the same Japanese company that produces the six-speed, Aisin.
If you're looking for all-wheel drive, you'll leave empty-handed as this GT Sport version is also only offered as front-wheel drive.
Over the Allure model, full-LED headlights can be seen up front, with a new 'three-claw' daytime running light signature, as can a metallic black roof, keyless entry and start, and 18-inch black alloy wheels.
Internally, things begin to line up with the pricepoint. Artfully stitched nappa leather seats make their debut, as does front seat heating and a driver's side massage function. The headliner is flicked from off-white to black, and customisable ambient lighting also helps to set the mood.
Infotainment is upgraded to a 10.0-inch unit, and wireless charging has also been introduced at this grade. For those who like good old-fashioned car navigation systems, you're in luck – the Peugeot 2008 GT Sport features just that.
Active safety systems have also been bolstered. A superior autonomous emergency braking system is included, which features low-light pedestrian and cyclist detection, as is adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with steering assist, lane-positioning function, and parking sensors at both ends.
The Peugeot 2008 range does not have an ANCAP safety rating; however, Euro NCAP gives a Peugeot 2008 GT Sport with a similar level of safety equipment a five-star badge.
Other than the seats and infotainment screen, the cabins across both cars look and feel a cut above others from the segment. There's plenty of soft-touch materials, including a squishy carbon-fibre-look dashboard. Interesting, since carbon fibre is usually hard.
However, the cabin is still stubbornly laid out using Peugeot's infamous tradition that it calls 'i-Cockpit'. This design ethos raises the gauge cluster above the steering wheel, insets an awkwardly small, squared-off steering wheel underneath it, and goes as far as to come with a manual that instructs you on how to sit down "properly".
Firstly, I found that in order to be able to see the fancy gauge cluster clearly, I had to make a choice: drop the wheel awkwardly low into my lap, or lift my seat up to a higher position. The latter made most sense, and was the most comfortable situation of the two I was presented with.
Over the course of the day, it started to feel natural. My recommendation would be to visit a showroom and spend time with the cabin, both statically and during an extended test drive, before making a decision.
Given no two of us are alike, this point is best ensured by yourself. As for seat comfort, the GT Sport's heavily contoured and bolstered pews are the pick of the pair.
In the second row, I was able to slot in nicely behind a deeply adjusted driver's seat set for someone who's 183cm tall. Knee room in the back was around 2–3cm, foot room was fair, and head room decent. Fitting three adults across the back would be a challenge, but two would enjoy the ride.
Its seat squab is quite deep and supports the upper regions of your legs well, meaning it bodes well as a long-hauler. Two ISOFIX points can also be found, and two larger convertible child seats would likely fill up the second row.
The Peugeot 2008's boot is excellent at 434L, and betters the space offered by the new Ford Puma, Volkswagen T-Roc, and on par with the 433L Kia Seltos.
On top of visible space, a dual-layer boot floor also conceals another generous storage area. In this hidden compartment, you could easily fit a family of five's muddy hiking gear, including water bottles, and a compact backpack.
We spent the majority of the launch drive in the entry-level 2008 Allure model, which is likely to be the crowd favourite. Simply put, its ride quality is fantastic. Peugeot is known for its prowess in this segment, having a long, rich legacy with rural Australian buyers purely because of the way they ride.
This new Peugeot 2008 continues that theme. Our drive saw us depart from near Sydney Airport, where the roads out of town are on the terrible side of poor. It cruised over such nonsense comfortably and easily without becoming rattled or bothered by the ghastly road-surface situation.
Once we left town and entered faster-pace roads, the ride still offered a great sense of surety. Our planned drive route saw us head through a national park, which was partially representative of the semi-rural conditions found around the perimeter of metro Australian cities.
When pressed in the tighter sections, it actually became quite fun. There's a suppleness to the ride, a gentle lean, which communicates well when you reach the threshold of understeer. Its steering is precise, too, although a touch too light for this reviewer's tastes.
Its weight of just 1365kg, a figure that includes a 75kg driver on board and its tank filled to 80 per cent, supports its handling efforts greatly. To frame that up, it's 200kg lighter than a Volkswagen T-Roc or a Kia Seltos.
The weather was not in our favour on the day, with it raining before, on, and after the event. Even during these conditions, first and foremost, its handling feels safe despite being front-wheel drive.
The smaller-output engine found in the Peugeot 2008 Allure means it must be leaned on early to take gaps, but the transmission's response levels are already in line with such thinking.
With two-up, performance is satisfactory, but I can foresee that a 2008 Allure fully loaded with four adults and a packed boot would have its drivability noticeably affected. This is something we'll most certainly test when we get one through the CarAdvice garage.
To counter, this is where the GT Sport's engine would come into play. At a cost of $9000, of course coming with extra gear too, one does wonder whether it's worth the investment.
The extra power is there, but most of the liveliness actually comes from the better spread of gear ratios found in the eight-speed transmission. Furthermore, it shifts much faster than the six-speed, which adds some backing to my claim.
In an attempt to speak to the 'sport' part of its name, a more highly strung suspension set-up is found in this top-spec model. During a quick punt, I found its ride quality becoming brittle over particular surfaces, which seemed to overwhelm any performance gain it offered. Again, we look forward to carrying out more extensive testing in due course.
As for fuel consumption, we achieved 6.2L/100km in a lower-powered 2008 Allure over a road loop that could be considered 40 per cent metro and 60 per cent highway. The official combined fuel figure for this version is 6.5L/100km and the highway figure is 5.4L/100km.
It's a shame that the brand has no plans to combine the lower-power engine and better eight-speed gearbox in its upcoming GT model that's due later in 2021.
Although, the two SUVs we're left with in reality are still both excellent choices. Things like great ride and handling, a spacious second row, and a cargo area that's up with the best, all give the solid foundations that every class-leading small SUV should be built from.
But, it's expensive and lacks some critical safety gear. The competition is stiff, too, with both VW and Ford bringing over their latest and greatest from Europe, which are both cheaper and offer the balance of more trinkets.
A heart-over-head purchase this one, but you'll be rewarded if you care about the essence of driving and also consider yourself quite the practitioner of unorthodoxy.
Scoring is reflective of the Peugeot 2008 Allure, as CarAdvice spent the most time in that version.