The Peugeot 2008 is what the company describes as a compact urban crossover, and it’s now available in South Africa.
I understand the need for a vehicle like this – it’s for those who want the nippiness of a B-segment hatch, but with added practicality. And Peugeot claims that its 2008 offers all this and more. With short overhangs and dimensions that still make it easy to zip around town and into relatively small parking spaces, the 2008 is great for the mall run and other suburban duties. But it also has a raised ride height (when compared with the 208 hatch with which it shares a platform), a bigger load bay, the standard fitment of roof rails and the company’s grip control system for those who wish to venture outside of the city and slightly off the beaten track (although don’t go too far – this vehicle is front-wheel-drive after all).
In terms of styling, I don’t mind the exterior with the latest face of Peugeot, chrome accents and beefed up look. The interior feels upmarket with smart instrument dials, a gloss finish on the centre console, metallic detailing, soft touch materials and full colour touchscreen interface for the all-encompassing audio system (USB, auxiliary, Bluetooth), vehicle settings and navigation system. There are odd things about the cabin that bother me. The lighting strips on the roof, unless you see it in all their glory at night, just looks like someone had a good time in the cabin and left their nail marks on the roof. Also, the flat handbrake feels like a case of being different for the sake of being different. I’d much rather have the regular type. And the neon stickers that you can get to customise your vehicle? Just … no. I was in the car for 15 minutes before I got tired of it and wanted to peel it off. But this is me. Maybe potential owners will feel differently about it.
Another gripe is that the audio system felt rather finicky and it wasn’t very easy finding the settings that I was looking for. Also, the system didn’t enjoy the connection to my driving partner’s Blackberry Torch, so in an act of defiance it would reboot itself every so often.
Under the bonnet lies an 88 kW petrol engine with 160 N.m available from 4 250 r/min. Power delivery felt a bit slow and you need to work the five-speed manual box to get the most out of it and to carry out any quick overtaking manoeuvres. But at cruising speed, it felt most at home and didn’t kick up any issues. Gear changes are slick and the clutch is light and easy to modulate.
It feels very much like a 208, which isn’t an insult. We clearly rate the little hatchback highly (voted best light hatch in CAR’s 2014 Top 12 Best Buys). It first feels that way when you climb behind the steering wheel and you see that the driving position is similar in that the steering wheel sits low, you as the driver sit high and you view the instrument cluster over the wheel as opposed to through it. With the 2008, however, there’s a higher driving position so visibility out of the cabin is better than in the hatchback sibling. The steering wheel is small and chunky which, together with the driving position, gives a sense of better control of the vehicle and provides a sense of added agility to the vehicle. However, the overall steering feel is light and it feels easily unsettled and sensitive to road imperfections at highway speeds.
Speaking of road imperfections, perhaps one of the highlights of this vehicle is its even ride quality and damping. The suspension consists of MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. The route took in all the possible types of road surfaces that the Eastern Cape has to offer and the 2008, with its adapted version of the 208’s chassis, tackled it all with ease. Rough surfaces were hardly ever an intrusion and the worst of the lot even proved to be no match for the 2008. Should you need extra help for tougher pieces of tarmac or gravel, Peugeot’s grip control could help. It offers four modes – normal, snow, all-terrain and sand – depending on how much grip you need.
Other standard features in this vehicle include 17-inch alloy wheels (the spare is a space saver), front fog lights, satellite controls for the audio system, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, electric windows all around, hill assist, ABS with EBD, brake assist, an electronic stability program, automatic headlights, dual front, side and curtain airbags, rear parking sensor and Isofix anchorages. I admit that that’s a lot of B-segment car.
Maybe it doesn’t come across that way, but with all its faults and flaws, I generally like the 2008. It offers something different from the norm with some added personality. It’s also decent value at R269 900 for everything you get.
SPECIFICATIONS (manufacturer’s claims)
Model: Peugeot 2008 Allure 1,6 petrol
Engine: 1,6-litre, four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: five-speed manual
Power: 88 kW @ 6 000 r/min
Torque: 160 N.m @ 4 250 r/min
Fuel consumption: 5,9 litres/100 km
CO2: 135 g/km
Luggage capacity: 350 dm3
Price: R269 900
Maintenance plan: 5-year/60 000 km
Warranty: 3-year/100 000 km