Yes, Yes,Yes, oh YES: looks great, comfortable cabin, sharp engine/trans
Oh dear me no: no manual, audio could sound better, could be cheaper
A 3-cylinder engine is a hard sell at the best of times, so, can a high-set soft-road-pretender really be taken seriously?
In a word, yes.
The 2008 range has been simplified to 3 models with one drive train. Active and Allure are now available, with the GT-Line to follow in a few months. Don’t Renault also have a Gt-Line?
First let’s define a normal drive in SUV parlance. Less than 1% of SUVs ever find their way off road (according to common sense not actual stats), so full 4-wheel-drive is a bit of a waste. And, as handy as it is, All-Wheel-drive carries a similar weight and price penalty as full 4WD, so in the bin with it too. That leaves a front (or rear)-wheel-drive as the only real option.
In that light, the 2008 is Front-wheel-drive-only, and is priced from $26,490. It is equipped with a 6 speed ASIN auto transmission, coupled to a Euro-6, 1.2L, 3-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine. The modest 81kw/205Nm engine pushes the 2008 to 100kph in a leisurely 11.2 seconds. It’s taken me a while to warm to this 3 cylinder power plant, but since it has won many awards, it must be good, right?
The equipment level is impressive with a nice-looking 7” touch screen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, MirroLink and a reversing camera with rear sensors The upper models get the addition of front sensors.
Those upper models also get: Rain sensing wipers, SatNav, semi-automated parking to get you in and out of parking spots, autonomous emergency braking (via LIDAR), dual auto climate control with pollen filter, and grip control (aka terrain mode control).
There are further trim enhancements, but over-all, a very tidy package.
The new front end features deeply sculptured headlights with a restyled grille and a rear end with new claw-shaped LED tail lights. The 3D-claw effect is also found elsewhere in the Peugeot lineup.
The interior build quality is very good. It feels refined without being ostentatious. The fabric has a premium look and feel. I particularly like the patterned dashboard which dips beneath an increasingly ubiquitous tablet-style LCD screen. The inclusion of these screens has neatened up centre consoles industry-wide. Only the climate controls get their own switch gear. Do you remember those centre consoles of the nineties and naughties? They had a button for every occasion, but BMW piloted the I-drive-style system which replace knobs with menus. Now everyone is doing it, and refining the look to make navigating the system easier. This one is very easy and intuitive to use. Anyone familiar with a smart phone should have no trouble finding what they want without having to refer to the handbook.
The steering wheel buttons control audio functions, as well as being an easy way to scroll through settings. It’s very well designed, and as PSA evolves through the i-cockpit iterations, the controls get better and better. On the subject of controls, the switchgear is well laid out except for the Cruise Control buttons which remain on a paddle shaped stalk. This is a hold-over from Pugs of old. It’s surfaces are strewn with incompressible knobs, switches and buttons. As if that wasn’t difficult enough, it is hidden behind the steering wheel, so make sure you read all about it before you set off. This is the only naff idea in an otherwise thoughtful cabin.
I’m yet to really love the i-cockpit. Its tiny steering wheel, over which instruments are viewed, still feels awkward. They say it looks like HUD displays on the windscreens of other cars, but it doesn’t. I’ll reserve judgement on the i-cockpit for another year or two. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it.
The drive is pleasantly surprising. The steering has Peugeot’s usual refined feel. Its responsive without being finicky. The brakes and acceleration are beautifully controlled. I sense a bit of old Peugeot making a return with comfortable suspension and nifty handling. The front suspension gets Macpherson struts and the rear has a Torsion bean/helical spring setup.
There was a substantial highway stretch coupled with a fistful of extremely poor b-roads, and included my favourite section of the Royal National Park. This is where you can really give a sportier vehicle a good workout, within the speed limit of course.
Peugeot boss, Kai Bruesewitz, says Peugeot hides from nothing, and the drive backed up his claims. Peugeot has nothing to hide from with its reputation for great handling fully restored.
The bucolic beauty of NSW provides roads the 3rd world would recognize. 2008 soaked even the worst of it up without complaint. Tight corners and uneven surfaces failed to upset the demeanor of the tiny SUV. Although the drive was only 2-up, there is the sense of composed behavior that transcends the vagaries of load. You feel that you could push even harder because at no stage did the 2008 feel over-stressed or untidy.
The drive modes are intended to give the front wheel drive SUV some of the attributes off AWD. It uses ABS to stop slippage to get grip on rougher terrains. Although we didn’t get a chance to use it, I’ve no doubt that it improves things considerably, but nothing beats wheels being driven by an engine in AWD or 4WD and that’s all there is to it
Sime Darby, a Singapore based multinational, imports Peugeot, Citroen, and DS into Australia but sales have been disappointing. Peugeot sold just 218 units last month, down from 313 last January. Peugeot was cagey when asked if it’s importer had plans to sell the franchise. Mr. Bruesewitz said he had nothing to say about the rumours. T
Despite a fairly disappointing result, Peugeot decided to enhance the specifications to offer more for the same money. 2008 is the first offering to benefit from this for 2017, so we wait with interest to see what happens now. Will Peugeot put more goodies in their other cars?
PRICE: Active $26,490, Allure $$30,990, GT-line $32,990
Active gains significant specification as standard including a more powerful and efficient engine, six-speed automatic transmission, Mirror Screen (Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink functionality), 16-inch alloy wheels and folding door mirrors.
As a further bonus, the previous local-fit reverse camera has been replaced with a factory-fit unit offering guidance lines.
The greater specification more than compensates for the $1000 increase over the previous 1.6-litre Active with automatic transmission.
Allure models remain unchanged at $30,990 yet gain additional standard equipment including Active City Brake, City Park self-parking, Grip Control, Mirror Screen and 17-inch alloy wheels.
All-new GT-Line rounds-out the revised range and replaces the previous Outdoor variant.
Featuring sportier styling and a more muscular appearance, the GT-Line has been developed for those who wish to stand out from the crowd.
The all-new GT-Line retains the previous Outdoor model’s $32,990 RRP yet gains significantly more standard specification including six-speed automatic transmission (previously a five-speed manual), Active City Brake, City Park self-parking, Grip Control and Mirror Screen.
Would I buy one? Let’s save that for the full test to come later.