Peugeot raises the bar with 2008
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Barricades are being raised. Battle lines are being drawn. Well, metaphorically at least. But 2017 could see real civil disorder among two key French brands in New Zealand.
Why? Well for a start, Renault has pushed ahead in the past 24 months with a heap of new product in the form of the updated Clio, the Captur crossover and a revised and much-better-now-thanks Koleos SUV. Not that it's an apples-with-apples equation, but the local distributor has also had big wins with the Renault Trafic and Master commercial vans.
Over at fellow Frenchies, Peugeot, things have been ... well, quieter. The 208 hatchback was an undeniable winner as a first course to the carmaker's wider line-up, and the 308 GT and 308 GTI were both sporty, fun-filled additions to the middle order. But all-of-a-sudden, those cars arrived some time ago now and there is no denying Peugeot has been hanging out for revised versions of two key sellers in its range for a long, long while.
One is the Peugeot 3008, which is due here in spring and promises a tangible step up in terms of styling and interior quality. The other is the tidy wee number gracing this page; the new 2008.
Peugeot set the bar low -- in a good way -- with the 208 hatchback when it arrived, choosing to promote some impressively sharp pricing for a European car. Volkswagen took the battle to them with similarly aggressive RRPs, but a Peugeot 208 for Suzuki Swift money certainly swivelled heads.
That keen pricing strategy appears to be something the distributor is willing to progress with for the incoming 2008, too. A one engine/two trim level model line-up sees the base Allure grade 2008 available for $34,990, which allows me to haul out the "a lot of car for the money" cliche.
Better still, the 2008 GT Line adds sportier flavoured trim accents (lots of gloss black detailing instead of a satin-look chrome and lots of lovely red stitching inside the cabin), for just $2000 more.
As far as standard specification goes, there isn't much between the two models; swish 17" alloy wheels (versus 16" discs for the Peugeot raises the bar with 2008 Allure) wrapped in mud tyres and a different rear bumper assembly with chrome exhaust tip are the only outward differences, while inside a Nappa leather steering wheel and those aforementioned racing stripes are matched with alloy racing pedals in the GT line.
Other than that, both iterations of the redesigned 2008 are similar, each with a lengthy list of optional extras that can still be added with the stroke of a pen. Mind you, while a panoramic "Cielo" roof sounds like a good idea, you'd have to forgo the lovely interior ambient lighting package, that draws thin tracers of LED light across the headliner. Swish.
The designers have packed a fair few features into the 2008. You'll find all the usual tech-based totems of modern driving accounted for, including Bluetooth, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, MirrorLink functionality to pair with your iPhone, integrated satellite navigation and dual-zone air conditioning, as well as Active City Brake semi-autonomous emergency braking.
It's a fun car to drive, too. Its eager little three-cylinder engine feels gutsier than you might imagine. With only 1280kg to haul around, it feels light on its toes. Zero to 100km/h in 10.3 seconds looks glacial on paper, but it feels much zippier than that in practice.
There is a lot on offer in this compact car. Which leads me on to a bit of confusion; Peugeot refers to the 2008 as an SUV. Yet the larger 3008 is called a crossover. I've always figured -- of the two body styles -- it'd be the crossover that's the smaller one. An SUV still needs to be an SUV, and though the precise definition has blurred over the years depending on which hoary old motoring writer you're talking to, one factor that remains is that it should be decently proportioned. You know; SUV-sized.
So, Peugeot calling the 2008 an SUV seems rather odd. It's certainly not cramped inside, but at 1556mm high (even with those mud tyres and roof rails in the picture), it's hardly massive. For the record, the 2008 is a shade over 4m long and 1829mm wide.
Still, it does have lofty all-traction aspirations, just like a soft-roader SUV. It might be a front-wheel drive vehicle, but Peugeot's GripControl system maximises said grip through the front wheels depending on what sort of surface is under-tyre. The driver can scroll through settings for snow, mud and sand and the system will adjust the amount of wheel spin and increments of torque accordingly; it's like having a Limited Slip Differential ... without actually having one.
You're not going to take your 2008 up a goat track in the Ruahine Ranges, but it's admirable that an urban-focused car like this still offers some measure of extra traction for low-grip scenarios. After all, those roof rails look purpose designed for snowboards. GripControl is standard on 2008 GT Line models and a $400 option on the Allure grade.
If Peugeot is about to come out fighting - and it needs to - having the 2008 in its corner will make it a battle worth paying close attention to.
Engine: 1199cc three-cylinder PureTech turbo petrol (81kW/205Nm)
Prices: $34,990 (Allure), $36,990 (GT Line)
Pro: Great looks inside and out, well-packaged for the price
Con: So much competition in this segment of the market