I should confess at the start of this report that I like Peugeots. At the time of the purchase of the 2008, my car selection was down to a stable of a Peugeot 504 that is on club plates, and a low-kilometre Peugeot 207 we purchased in 2003 after my request to buy a Subaru XV was rejected by SWMBO.
Since then, I have reflected on the characteristics of the Subaru, and after many road reports of it, I judged that its 'joy of driving' factor was seriously compromised by the engine/transmission combination and the lack of a speed-limiter function (see below).
In looking at other possibilities of vehicles that were small, had a spirited engine, and had neither a CVT nor a highly suspect dual-clutch manual, there were very few (or nil?) options. I didn't want a sedan, as I drive occasionally to the tops of lookouts in national parks, and knew a modern sedan would not do without tip-toeing around at best (although I had taken the 207 up there too). Most small sedans scrape their plastic bits on driveways, let alone dirt roads. I also did not really need FWD for my interests – just as long as I had a bit of ground clearance.
I then went back to Peugeot and looked at the new 3008 that had won the European Car of the Year in 2017. Impressive, but far too big for my needs. I then saw the updated 2017 model of the Peugeot 2008, which seemed to have been released on the market without any obvious fanfare. It fitted very well for size – an occasional 4–5 seater, comfort with fold-down rear seats, some ground clearance and limited front and rear overhang.
The original version of the 2008 came out with a four-cylinder non-turbo petrol and a four-speed auto – the same as in the Peugeot 207 (and other models) – and it was basically short of a gear or two. Although, reviewers at the time thought it was a good design with the same caveats about the engine/transmission combination. My choice of this car was, in fact, not because it was a Peugeot.
My update-model 2008 has the gutsy three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine, which has won the European 'Engine of the Year' for its category for three successive years. It's also in the base-model 308s. It also comes with a newly developed Aisin/Peugeot six-speed torque converter automatic. The engine is undersquare for good torque characteristics and this works – where maximum torque is 1500rpm. The gearbox knows this and keeps the engine between 1500–2000rpm unless you floor it.
The combination of the two works very well and gives eager performance, even under light throttle. It keeps ahead of most traffic at the lights. If you put the foot down, it gives a great little burble and does what you ask. In suburban traffic, it only gets to fourth gear and needs 90km/h or so before it will drop into sixth.
It's economical, but don't believe the windscreen sticker, which promises the earth. And don't take any dashboard readouts particularly seriously – I always check actual petrol in versus kilometres travelled. On a long trip, while sitting on 100–110km/h it settled to around 6.3–6.4L/100km, while around town it's now around 8.6L/100km. I've now done around 12,000km.
It's very comfortable. The front seats support well and all controls are accessible. It has a small Peugeot steering wheel that many reviewers simply hate, but is second nature if you engage your brain, and after 15 seconds or so it's not even noticeable. The steering wheel is adjustable for height and reach, and the driver's seat also has height adjustment.
In the computer settings, you can set and keep certain speeds in memory, and then rapidly move from one set speed to the next set speed using either the cruise control or the separate speed limiter – they're on the same steering-wheel stalk, though, and are in an excellent position behind the steering wheel. After a little familiarisation, you can locate the stalk without taking your eyes off the road. I find the speed limiter invaluable in heavy traffic – on suburban streets as well as suburban freeways.
You can never exceed your set speed, which is very useful when you are driving at the speed limit. With car speedos being notoriously optimistic, you set the speed limiter to a few km/h above – and below the speed the legislators will find offensive – and you'll find yourself ahead of most of the other traffic. On open highways with little traffic, you move across to using the cruise control. Dead easy. Don't ask me about cupholders. Very few cars have a speed limiter. I don't quite know why.
In the centre of the instrument panel, between the rev-counter and the tacho, is a small digital display that you can cycle between three different trip meters showing fuel consumption etc, current road as per sat-nav, digital speed reading and a couple of others. It cycles between each by pressing the end of the windscreen wiper stalk. Very useful.
It has Apple CarPlay, which I've used on occasion – it's all a bit too gimmicky for me – but I do use the quite good built-in sat-nav, although it can be a little odd at times (takes you around three sides of a square to go backwards rather than an obviously safe U-turn – use your brain here), and the iPhone Bluetooth link that works unobtrusively. You'll need another reviewer for all the music stuff. I leave it off.
My version of the 2008 is the Allure – the mid-range – which has a set of added safety features, including rear-end collision avoidance, compared to the base model. It also has a set of traction-control options for sand, mud, snow, normal and off. I really haven't noticed them yet. Probably a good thing. As a consequence of these options, it comes as standard with a set of Goodyear All-terrain tyres.
I suspect that all this stuff may be good in ice and snow, but I'm not sure what I dial in for B-grade dirt roads as in Australia. Maybe the mud option? I did dial that one while climbing to the top of a national park near the Murray River. Wonder if it helped? The tyres are a tad noisy, while the car is otherwise very quiet, and the engine is not even apparent at 100km/h. I may experiment with normal tyres when these wear out and see whether I notice any difference. I suspect not unless I go to the snow.
The rear seats are quite generous, and the split 2-1 rear seats will fold down with one click to give an (almost) flat surface for the Bunnings trips and transporting cartons.
It has an excellent reversing camera, and also a self-park gimmick option that I had demonstrated to me at the showroom. Cute, but basically redundant for me with the reversing camera and visual parking signals front and rear. I prefer to trust my own judgment.
Although it drives well around town, it really needs a good long trip to appreciate its ability. It tends to lope along at highway speeds and I arrive refreshed after a couple of hundred kilometres.
Service intervals are 15,000km or 12 months. No-one could complain about that. My own policy has been to trust my servicing to my very competent mechanic, even though the car is still under warranty. Legally that's fine. I'm extremely happy with the car, and I come away with the impression every time that they've thought this idea through very well. Everything has worked as, or better than, expected. In a field of admittedly very few competitors for my requirements, it comes out very, very well.
PS. Sorry about the lack of photo, but the car is dirty (again). See the Peugeot website.