The old Peugeot 2008 always looked a little frumpy to our eyes. Not anymore.
The all-new 2021 Peugeot 2008 is, from any angle, a stylish and well-resolved small SUV.
More importantly for the French brand, in the months since launching in local Peugeot dealerships, the 2008 has become the brand’s top-seller. Admittedly, its 184 sales to the end of April are off a low base, but it underscores the importance of a small SUV in the brand’s line-up, and the vitality of the small-SUV market in general.
The city-friendly SUV segment accounts for almost one-in-seven (14.4 per cent) new vehicles sold in Australia. The third most popular segment in the country trailing only 4x4 utes (17.5 per cent) and medium SUVs (18 per cent).
Peugeot launched the all-new 2008 into Australia late last year, with just two variants in a trimmed-down range. There’s a third, mid-spec variant coming, but for now there’s a choice of two.
Gone is the entry-level 2008 Active, and in its place as a starting point into the range is the 2008 Allure. It’s priced at $34,990 plus on-roads; a hefty price increase over the $25,490 the previous generation’s entry-point asked for. Similarly, the previous-gen’s Allure model was priced at an enticing $29,490 before on-roads, which means this all-new 2008 commands a 16 per cent premium over its predecessor.
On test here, though, we have the bells-and-whistles 2021 Peugeot 2008 GT Sport – a new variant for the range that supplants the previous generation's GT-Line range-topper. It’s priced at $43,990 plus on-road costs, placing it firmly in the premium gunsights of rival offerings from Audi (Q2 from $41,950), Lexus (UX200 from $44,445), Mini (Countryman from $44,500) and Volvo (XC40 from $46,990).
And that’s an interesting strategy. Peugeot, a staple brand in its homeland – and in Europe generally – wants to be considered a mainstream premium brand here in Australia. Perhaps that’s why the local arm of the French carmaker has done away with the price-leading entry model, and instead delivering well-specified versions of its best-selling model.
|2021 Peugeot 2008 GT Sport|
|Engine||1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Power and torque||114kW @ 5500rpm, 240Nm @ 1750rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||6.1L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||9.4L/100km|
|Boot volume (seats up/down)||434L / 1467L|
|ANCAP safety rating (year tested)||Five stars (2019)|
|Warranty (years / km)||Five years / unlimited km|
|Main competitors||Audi Q2, Lexus UX200, Volvo XC40|
|Price as tested (ex on-road costs)||$47,030|
Underneath its oh-so-stylish skin, the 2021 Peugeot 2008 (pronounced two-thousand-and-eight, not two double ‘oh’ eight) is all new.
Sitting on the French brand’s Common Modular Platform (CMP) architecture, which also underpins the wider PSA group’s compact models from Citroen and Opel, the new 2008 is bigger than its predecessor, and measurably so. And to good effect.
The bigger 2008 – it’s 142mm longer with a 67mm longer wheelbase, 31mm wider and a mere 6mm taller than the older model – looks more aggressive than its predecessor thanks to adopting Peugeot’s contemporary design language.
From the sharply angled grille to Peugeot’s signature lion-claw-slash headlight design, the 2008 has lost the frumpiness of its predecessor. And it’s all the better for it, certainly visually. The visual appeal is enhanced by the GT Sport’s blacked-out treatment: wheels, grille, roof, roof rails, mirror caps, and badges as well as window trims are all finished in black – offering a sharp contrast and kerbside appeal. It is, in a word, a looker.
The Peugeot 2008’s equipment list is pretty healthy, too, certainly in this top-spec GT Sport trim. LED headlights and tail-lights, 18-inch alloys finished in black, nappa leather seats with front-seat heating and driver's massaging function, a 10-inch infotainment system, wireless phone charging and ambient lighting all come standard.
There’s also push-button start, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, DAB+ radio, satellite navigation, and a decent suite of safety tech headlined by high-speed autonomous braking (up to 140km/h) with pedestrian (up to 60km/h) and cyclist (up to 80km/h) detection as well as low-light capability. There’s also speed sign recognition, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.
Inside, the 2008 sees the debut of its striking 3D digital instrument display, which uses several layers of Thin Film Transistor (TFT) to display information in three dimensions. While it sounds gimmicky, it’s actually effective in displaying critical information in the foreground, such as crash-avoidance alerts.
Mercifully, the options list for the Peugeot 2008 GT Sport is short. Our test car was finished in the $1050 three-coat Pearl White hue (one of three options), and also came fitted with the sunroof ($1990) for an as-tested price of $47,030 plus on-road costs.
There’s a cheaper palette of four metallic colours that ask for an additional $690, while the only no-cost hue is the rather striking Orange Fusion; a nice change from the white coat of paint usually offered as a no-cost option by a host of brands. A bit of French flair for no extra cost.
The quality of materials throughout is exceptional – from the lovely nappa leather trim on the seats to the soft-touch dashtop and faux carbon-fibre trims, the interior feels every bit the premium player.
Yes, there are ergonomic quirks, like the digital instrument cluster sitting high on the dash, perfectly blocked by Peugeot’s signature tiny steering wheel, certainly in my preferred driving position. But for overall presentation and tactility, the 2008 presents as a lovely little thing.
It’s only when you dig a little deeper that some of its quirks turn into annoyances. Things like adjusting the temperature of the climate control, which can only be done via the touchscreen and requires several inputs before effecting change. Old-school dials and switches would be so much better.
Still, the piano key shortcut keys on the dashboard look great, and do provide a level of ergonomic satisfaction, even if it’s only to bring up the relevant menu on the touchscreen.
There are some nice practical touches, though, with deep door pockets that can accommodate bottles, a decently sized central storage bin, and a wireless charging tray for your smartphone.
The gear lever is short, stubby and feels nice in the hand. Looks great, too, and again a reminder that Peugeot is edging towards the premium end of the segment.
One downside of the cabin, and it’s minor, is the size of the cupholders, which can barely take a regular-sized coffee cup. Large coffee cups simply don’t fit. As I said, it’s minor, but my preference for a large flat white didn’t serve me well in the 2008.
The second row is spacious despite the 2008’s small-SUV dimensions. There’s enough space behind my 173cm driving position to be comfortable; a feeling enhanced by the firm but supportive seats. The backs of the front seats are sculpted to offer more knee room, while toe and head room are fine.
Back seat passengers will have to rely on the climate controls of the front seat occupants, with no separate controls or even air vents in the second row. It’s not a huge issue, though, in an SUV of this size.
No cupholders either, nor an armrest. About the only conveniences in the second row are a pair of USB charging points and deep door pockets that can take bottles. For those with little ones, the outboard seats come equipped with ISOFIX points.
Flip open the tailgate – manually, no automatic function here – and you’re greeted by a decent boot rated at 434L by Peugeot. That expands to 1467L with the second row folded away in 60:40 fashion. Lifting the boot floor reveals a slender but usable storage bay suitable for small bags and the like, while lifting that second floor provides access to the space-saver spare wheel.
Under the bonnet, Peugeot’s 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine makes a decent 114kW at 5500rpm and 240Nm at 1750rpm. It’s mated to an eight-speed conventional automatic transmission, the combination working in tandem to propel the 1287kg (kerb) small SUV from standstill to 100km/h in 8.7 seconds.
While that’s not Earth-shatteringly quick, it’s perky enough, certainly around town where the 2008 is likely to spend the bulk of its time. Take-off is predictable, with no hint of front-wheel-drive torque steer. Instead, the 2008 simply moves away briskly, the transmission doing a decent job of working its way through the eight ratios.
The steering remains light, which is a boon in inner-city confines where parking is at a premium and smaller spaces the enemy of medium to large SUVs. Not so for the 2008’s nice proportions and dimensions.
Out on the highway, the small Pug is happy to purr along at 110km/h. It feels effortless, the eight-speed transmission doing a decent job of being in the right gear at the right time. Ask more of it, and the little three-pot up front thrums into life, as the eight-speed auto shuffles down through the gears in the hunt for maximum torque. It might only have a displacement of 1.2 litres, but there’s a liveliness to the motor that’s hard not to like.
The suspension tune is supple too. Around town, the 2008 handles most surfaces with comfort and aplomb. Smaller imperfections are dispatched easily and comfortably, while only bigger hits are transmitted back into the cabin. It’s acceptable, though.
The 2008 stays nice and flat through corners and roundabouts, too, all while feeling light on its wheels. This is no corner-carver, mind you, but linking a series of twisting roads together can be rewarding, if not exactly thrilling.
Peugeot claims the 2008 GT Sport will use just 6.1L/100km on the combined cycle. We spent a week predominantly in its natural habitat in the tight confines of the inner city and returned 9.4L/100km. On paper, that’s not great, but we’re putting it down to an unusually congested traffic pattern that week. Previous tests have seen more indicative fuel consumption returns of mid-6s.
ANCAP awarded the Peugeot 2008 a five-star safety rating in 2019 by scoring it 93 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent child occupant protection, and 73 per cent for vulnerable road-user protection.
Safety assist was scored at 72 per cent, with its lane-support system (including lane-keep assist) marked down for not intervening in more critical emergency situations. That's a little ironic as we found the lane-keeping assistant overly aggressive in normal driving conditions, trigger happy and with sharp corrections. Disconcerting. It mars, a little, what is overall an enjoyable experience behind the wheel.
Peugeot covers the 2008 range with its standard five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, while servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Under Peugeot’s Service Price Promise, the 2008 GT Sport will need a total of $2466 of your hard-earned in trips to the workshop for the first five years/75,000km.
The Peugeot 2008 GT Sport certainly looks the part of a stylish city-focussed small SUV. Its sharp lines, accented by all that black treatment specific to this variant, should appeal to those who are driven by style.
It’s at once characterful in its countenance and, more importantly, in the way it handles itself on the road. Arguably expensive for the segment, the 2008 GT Sport is competing against more established premium brands on price, and that could count against it. Which is a pity, as the little Pug deserves more attention than it gets.