Tantalizing tech: Is Peugeot's cutting-edge 2008 GT a game-changer?
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Peugeot 2008 GT
- Superb engine, sporty feel
- Premium-feeling interior
- Great exhaust note
- Confusing infotainment system
- Strange gear selector
- Have to go top spec for adaptive cruise control
Now that the days of the standard four-door sedan are numbered, and hatches or “sportbacks” are taking over the automotive world, where do hatchbacks end SUVs start? It could be argued that all SUVs are technically hatchbacks, but not all hatchbacks are SUVs; so where does this Peugeot’s new 2008? Probably somewhere in the middle.
Technically, this new 2008 falls into the small or city SUV category thanks to its high-riding stature, and small wheelbase, but getting behind the wheel of it provides a different experience. The term ‘hot hatch’ would be extremely controversial in this instance, so we’re going to leave it at ‘moderately warm’ for now.
Peugeot recently launched this new 2008 SUV in three guises here in New Zealand, which includes the Active, the Allure, and the range-topping GT that we were in for a week. Prices range from $33,990 for the Active, to the GT at $45,990. The Allure falls smack-bang in the middle of these two at $39,990.
All three models share the same three-cylinder, turbocharged 1.2-litre engine that sends power exclusively to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. One of the differences between models lies in the power output, with the GT making 114kW, while the lower two models make do with 96kW.
Like most three-pots on the market, this engine sounds cool. It’s hard to tell if it is genuine noise, or artificial, but whatever the 2008 is doing when the revs get going sounds good. On top of this, 114kW isn’t a heap of power by modern standards, but it feels brisk in the 2008. Surprisingly, there’s plenty of torque to be had low in the rev range, and the boost-happy 1.2 will rev with ease, providing peak power at 4K rpm. Peugeot’s claimed fuel economy of 6.5L/100km was right on the money during our time with the GT, which was mostly Auckland-based commuting, with a trip down to Hamilton thrown in for good measure.
If you want to do some of the work, there are a pair of steering column-mounted paddles to use. These are reasonably responsive when shifting on the fly, but getting through eight gears can become a bit of a drag, so leaving the transmission to do its own thing is the smoother (and easier) option.
As the 2008 was the first modern Peugeot I had driven, I’ll admit that I was unsure of the small, strangely-shaped steering wheel at first. After driving around with it for a week, I’m a firm believer that small steering wheels should become the industry standard. It takes a little getting used to at first, and once you’re ok with looking over the wheel as opposed to through it to see the gauge cluster, it’s wonderful!
On the topic of that gauge cluster, it’s something that the French brand is quite proud of. Dubbed the “3D i-cockpit”, the 2008 is the first Peugeot to get this cluster that gives a three-dimensional effect, and is a snazzy little piece of tech. Strictly speaking, this 10-inch display isn’t actually three-dimensional, but rather uses three glass panels on which information is projected. For the most part, it works like any other gauge cluster would, and will bring notifications to the front in order to get your attention, and it works well.
All three 2008 variants benefit from driver attention alert, forward collision warning, and AEB as standard. If you want the full suite of driver assistance, you’ll have to go with the GT, which gets adaptive cruise control, and the extremely handy “lane positioning system” which is pretty self-explanatory.
As a whole, the 2008’s cabin is a great place to be, and feels very premium. The Alcantara/leatherette seats are very comfortable, and aren’t overly bolstered like sport seats can be. The optional panoramic sunroof was a nice addition on the GT we had, and the ambient lighting adds to the overall premium feel.
One aspect of the interior that put me off a little was the infotainment system, which feels complicated just for the sake of it. Despite a quick briefing at the dealership, I was still left rather confused by how the audio system actually worked, so I resorted to pushing a variety of buttons and see what would happen. I eventually worked it all out, but it isn’t very intuitive, and the fancy-looking instrument panel across the dash is more confusing than it is helpful.
When it comes to the 2008’s competition, Peugeot has been smart about pricing, as the Active falls into the standard small SUV segment at $33,990. At this price point, it’s cheaper than a VW T-Cross and the Skoda Arona. Here at Driven, we’d argue that the $45,990 GT is the pick of the bunch, as it comes with all whistles, bells, and safety you’d ever need. At $46K, it’s more expensive than something like a Mazda CX-30 GTX, but is probably a better pick thanks to that great little engine.
As a whole, the 2008 is a great little city-hopper that drives as good as it looks. The infotainment system is a little complicated for my liking, but works well once you’ve got your head around it. The safety and driver assistance tech works incredibly well, and when you turn it all off, you’ve got an engaging drive that borders on hot hatch territory.