I’m a firm believer in the two-wheel-drive sport utility vehicle market.
The reason being is that most SUV buyers have no intention of taking their cars/wagons into a loose surface environment, there is mostly little need for four-wheel-drive.
A lot of manufacturers are into that concept and they are increasing the number of 2WD SUVs. Peugeot has just launched a new crossover/SUV/wagon – the 2008. While its concept has been around for a few years, the newcomer has a fresh driveline and a fairly hefty upgrade.
Loosely based around the 208 platform, the 2008 is an SUV of mini proportions at just over 4m, but it has a practical interior that is capable of transporting awkward loads with adaptable and versatile rear seat configurations.
It is also a comfortable car for four adults, it’s a bit of squeeze width-wise for three adults in the rear but there’s no shortage of head or leg room, and the 2008 is clever in the way it translates its limited space into occupant comfort.
The 2008 lands here in two levels, $34,990 will get you into the Allure, an extra $2000 will buy what Peugeot describes as the GT-Line, it gets a wealth of sporty trim accents, bigger wheels (17in) and a higher spec including a clever grip control system. Effectively, it is an advanced traction and stability control programme that also allows the 2008 to tackle those off-the-seal situations that arise from time to time, but bearing in mind cross-country travel is limited.
Under the bonnet is a new turbocharged, three-cylinder engine and six-speed transmission which is finding its way across Peugeot and Citroen line-ups. I’ve encountered this unit in other Peugeot product and it is an engine which punches well above its weight, you have to discard the notion of it being small, it is a strong, capable power plant which thrills with its honesty.
Peugeot rates the 1192cc unit at a healthy 81kW and 205Nm. Not only are they high outputs for engine size, it’s the area where the power is developed that is most interesting. Peak power comes in at just 5500rpm and maximum torque is available from 1500rpm, both low in the rev band and that is what you need in all engines, the ability to haul from low revolutions. Boost from the turbocharger is also constant, there is little lag at any point.
If you also add in the benefit of a six-speed automatic, there’s never a point where you think the gearing and engine output aren’t matched, the driveline is fluid and responsive.
Peugeot also list a 1280kg kerb weight for the 2008, that’s quite light, offering a healthy power-to-weight ratio.
The gearing has been structured so that there is reasonable acceleration to highway speed with a tallish top gear so that the engine is relaxed at 100km/h, turning over slowly at 2000rpm.
At that speed the engine is sipping fuel at the rate of just five-litres per 100km (56mpg), that promoted a 7.2l/100km (39mpg) average during my time behind the wheel. These are satisfactory figures but are a little distant to Peugeot’s 4.8l/100km (58mpg) combined cycle claim, although my driving style doesn’t augur well for fuel economy.
On the subject of figures, the 2008 is lively enough, it will reach 100km/h from a standstill in just over 10sec and will complete a highway overtake in 6.9sec (80km/h to 120km/h).
Peugeot has always had a reputation for ride/handling quality and that has been engineered into the 2008. It has a compliant, moderately-firmed ride with a handling feel that is moderately sporty. The chassis isn’t disturbed by mid-corner bumps or road deviations, the suspension does a good job of keeping body balance.
Providing the grip are 205/50 Good Year tyres, according to the casing they are worded all season and during my time with the test car they were certainly put to the test on wet surfaces, heavy rain lowered grip levels substantially.
Nevertheless, the entire car felt secured to the
road and steering feel is another Peugeot hallmark, the 2008 as a package constantly feels controlled and safe.
The latter of course is five-star rated and sits beside a healthy level of specification, major features include satellite navigation, touch screen infotainment, cruise control and speed limiter and high quality trim materials.
The new 2008 is an example of a good car made better, the new driveline is certainly a case of less is more.
Price – Peugeot 2008, $36,990
Dimensions – Length, 4159mm; width, 1829mm; height, 1556mm
Configuration – Three-cylinder, front-wheel-drive, 1199cc, 81kW, 205Nm, six-speed automatic.
Fuel usage – 4.8l/100km