For that fun factor and undeniable value, the new Peugeot 2008 is the right choice

 allcarschannel Being overall slightly larger than the car it was based on, the exciting Peugeot 208, but smaller than the highly lauded 3008, the new affordable Peugeot 2008 is targeted towards the young urban professional man and woman or young families who do not want or need a large SUV to get about their daily lives.

The global success of the new Peugeot 2008 is proof of the increasing acceptance of, or rather, demand for, crossover vehicles to suit the active lifestyles of the young and young at heart. Not one to rest on their laurels, Nasim (Peugeot Malaysia) saw this recent development as a golden opportunity to expand their wings across platforms to vie for a piece of the action in a largely untapped and unchallenged segment. Being overall slightly larger than the car it was based on, the exciting Peugeot 208, but smaller than the highly lauded 3008, the new affordable Peugeot 2008 is targeted towards the young urban professional man and woman or young families who do not want or need a large SUV to get about their daily lives. You could say that the 2008 is a slightly elongated and raised 208, for the two do share a lot of similarities in many aspects. But is it really just that, an enlarged 208? A group of 30-odd media reps were given the chance to be the first in the country to test out the new Peugeot 2008 on a one-day field trip to Putrajaya to find out for themselves if the new urban SUV was all it was made out to be.

The cars were flagged off from Publika in Desa Sri Hartamas, and we were promised a good mix of urban roads, a couple of B-road twisties, some uphills and downhills, stretches of highways with a couple of slow sections. Boasting the Lion marque’s tried and tested 122PS 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve naturally-aspirated powerplant from the 208/308 range, and weighing more or less the same as the compact 208 meant that the 2008 was rarely ever caught short or out of breath. More on that later.

Peugeot 2008: European Elegance and Dynamics

The bodyshell of the new Peugeot 2008 boasts a modern sculpted body design to reflect the active yet sassy lifestyles of its owners. Front LED Signature DRLs (daylight running lights) dominate the frontal design of the car, almost stretching the entire length of its now familiar new Peugeot family signature headlights. High quality halogens (better than your usual spare part shop variety we were told) reside within the projector light housings in the cluster, complete with manually adjustable electric height adjustments for varying vehicle load conditions (to avoid glaring oncoming traffic). The said projectors would definitely benefit from the fitment of a Xenon (HID) system to do it justice, but suffice to say that the halogens did an adequate job in the lighting department. As our one-day media test drive was conducted in the daytime, we weren’t able to judge just how well the projectors worked at dusk.

A smart-looking, twin-slat chrome grille takes pride of place underneath the Lion insignia, and is less pronounced compared to the 208 which sports a much larger grille that extends from the base of the bonnet right down past the bumper line. In that respect, the 2008 looks a little less aggressive compared to the car that it was based upon, which is a good thing, considering the kind of customers whom Peugeot are vying for. Where the 208 was designed to appeal to hot-blooded singles, the 2008 appeals more to new families and related demographics. Having said that, the family resemblance between the two variants is unmistakable; however I applaud Peugeot for having expended great effort in redesigning the car’s exterior appeal rather than merely slapping on a larger trunk and lengthening the car while keeping costs down by simply reusing the same light clusters and bumpers from the 208. Even the cornering assist fog lights and their respective housings were thoroughly redesigned, with the 2008 getting a more premium looking housing complete with chrome linings.

From the side, the 2008 does indeed look like a grown up 208 with a fuller cabin and higher ride height. Chromed door protectors at the bottom of the doors hint at ruggedness, while the two-toned 16” alloy wheels shod with Goodyear Efficient Grip 195/60 R16 tyres suggest that the 2008 can take on rougher terrain than the 208 with its lower profile 195/55 R16 or 205/45 R17 tyres (5-door and 3-door versions respectively). Not that most SUV drivers are that keen on dirtying their rides on roads less traveled, but for the most part the appearance of an active lifestyle is more important than having one in reality. Nonetheless, we did end up taking the 2008 off-road for a few minutes to see how it handled itself in that situation, but we didn’t go as far as making figure eights in the sand to prove a point. The rear combination lights are again a departure from the 208’s design, with the 2008 getting less dramatic looking rear lights but sporting the company’s signature feline undertones in the form of 3 vertical stripes running across the lamps. The familiar “C” curve of the rear lamps that extends forward to the C pillar is also less dramatic than on the 208, but are still a nice touch nonetheless.

Peugeot 2008: Elegance and Refinement Within

Being a compact crossover or what Peugeot deemed an Urban SUV, legroom is a much needed luxury, and in this respect the 2008 has roughly the same legroom for the front and rear passengers as the 208, owing to the fact that they share a common chassis.

A 2,538mm wheelbase isn’t too shabby for a compact B-segment SUV contender, and you will be surprised at the ample leg and head room of the 2008. It is in the width department that the compact billing starts to make its presence felt, for the 2008 is roomy enough for 4 full-sized adults and perhaps a child in the middle, but that’s about it. Peugeot already made it very clear that the 2008 was targeted at young adults with or without a small family, so it’s not a problem for the given target segment. Prospective buyers looking for a larger SUV will do well to consider alternatives like the 3008 or the soon to be refreshed 5008 (MPV).

We spent just a couple of hours driving the car about and snapping shots of its exterior, which resulted in not having enough time to cover the interior as well. Without having a 208 around to compare, the dash looks nearly identical to its 208 counterpart; it was so hard to tell the difference. In fact, I’d like to venture a guess that they were identical in almost every aspect, but the 2008 boasts peripheral illumination for its now familiar floating instrument cluster that debuted on the 208. Even the steering wheel looked and felt almost the same, as our test car had an electric power steering system to make light work of steering effort. In that regard, Peugeot has specced the new 2008 to come with a lot of niceties which include audio and wireless telephony connectivity, featuring pretty much the same Arkamys 3D sound system as its sibling.

An unusual addition to the 2008’s interior is a large, flat-headed ultra-stylish handbrake lever which was probably inspired by the likes of Starship Enterprise or another spaceship from some other sci-fi movie genre, but Peugeot cleverly disguised said inter-stellar inspiration by calling it an Aviation Style parking brake, which doubled up as a mini handrest due to it being nicely padded with either leather or a synthetic derivative. The soft, textured dashboard adds to the 2008’s list of refinements, which extends all the way to the side moldings of the door panels. Speaking of the door panels, they look very similar to the ones found in the 208 as well, but without a side-by-side I can’t put my finger on it to be sure. I was very impressed by the door panels and handles on the 208, so if they were indeed a straight carryover I am all for it, for as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…”.

The award winning Interactive HD 7” Color Touch Screen sits in the same position atop the middle air louvers and has a commanding presence, governing a myriad of functions like audio controls, Bluetooth and external audio connectivity, vehicle settings and more. The “more” from the previous sentence refers to the 2008 having the ability to park and exit itself from a parallel parking spot. Called Smart Park Assist, it does just that, taking over the wheel to reverse itself into a parallel parking space and getting out of one without so much as lifting a finger on the steering wheel. All the driver needs to do is access the function via the touch screen and subsequently move the car forwards and back with the throttle and brake pedals. The system will prompt you to engage forward or reverse gear during the process. It’s a little uncanny at first, much like a scene from a poltergeist movie where you lose control over your steering wheel, but once mastered you will be able to get in and out of tight spots with relative ease. Male drivers might scoff at this feature, but it’s good to have it especially when you lend your car to a friend or relative who sucks at side parking. I for one, think that every car should be equipped with this feature, then we wouldn’t have to deal with #@**!! jokers who can’t park a car to save their lives. Just imagine how orderly our streets would look…

The seats up front are of the semi-bucket Oxford leather and fabric variety, offering very good ergonomic support and is especially useful if you like to attack corners at speed (for the car does handle like a true Pug). It almost felt like I was sitting in a first class airline seat and it never felt too tight or snug. Perhaps scrawny individuals might find the semi-bucket seats not as reassuring, but for regular sized folk, rest assured you will be well pampered on long journeys or in traffic jams.

Peugeot 2008: Mechanically Proven

In the drivetrain and powertrain departments, there are no surprises here. A proven DOHC 16-valve 4-potter with variable valve timing (VVT) jointly developed by PSA Peugeot Citroen and BMW churns out 122PS @ 6,000rpm and 160Nm @ 4,250rpm to drive the front wheels of the 2008 via a 4-speed adaptive gearbox with a conventional torque converter. Said combination allows the 2008 to clear the century sprint in 11.2 seconds (as published), on to a top speed of 190km/h. It also features an advanced electric power steering system (EPS) which boasts Auto Return (to center) and Auto Damping (to eliminate steering judder and fluctuation), which are two common drawbacks of an EPS. The 2008 is instilled MacPherson struts up front and a trailing arm system at the rear, just like the 208. However, the 2008 seemed more poised when going over numerous speed breakers along the way, unlike the 208 which tended to skip a little bit over harsh bumps.

NVH (Noise, Vibration & Harshness) from within the cabin was more than acceptable, considering how loud the air-conditioning and radiator fans tend to get. The car feels very tightly screwed together, save for a minor rattle coming from the removable tonneau cover. At times like these, you will learn to appreciate a good sound system.

Being a 4-speeder, and having probably very similar gear ratios as the 208 meant that highway cruising speeds was attained at around 3,000rpm. At that engine speed, you can hardly hear the engine. It is only above 4,000 rpm and with a more aggressive throttle input that it began to sing a different tune. You can also recreate that rugged engine note at lower rpms with a misbehaving right foot, at which time the VVT system switches over to a more aggressive cam timing and duration which in turn raises intake velocity for better low end torque. To a layman, the low end growl of the engine might come off as being a little unrefined, but for those who understand the benefits of usable torque at lower rpms, will understand and accept this as a necessary tradeoff for a small capacity naturally aspirated powerplant.

As mentioned earlier, the 2008 seemed better sprung than the car it was based upon. As such, it drove pretty much like a typical Continental mid-sized vehicle, tackling road imperfections with an authoritative rebound and firm yet supple damping rate. At more than 130km/h, and thanks to a raised ride height, you can barely feel how fast you were actually going, maintaining its composure very well on straights. Around corners, it plants its feet to the ground, all the while beckoning you to go that bit faster. Many times during the drive I found myself forgetting that I was driving an SUV and not a compact hatch.

In regular D mode, the 2008 behaves itself like a well-mannered guest at an official dinner function, but a quick push of the “S” sports mode button on the gear console transforms it into a hot-blooded young buck with a heightened sense of speed and aggression that will surge ahead with the slightest prodding of the now steroid-infused throttle pedal. I found the S mode to be very suitable for overtaking maneuvers and steep ascents.

The cornering prowess of the 2008, although not as agile and deft as the 208 or other Peugeot sedans, is calm and collective. The combination of the right suspension setup, coupled with the excellent semi bucket front seats and sporty steering wheel, makes the 2008 one heck of a package, and if you’re looking to start a family and need the space but cannot do without the fun factor and agility of a sedan or hatchback car, the 2008 is a good place to start searching for that crossover vehicle that bridges the gap without costing an arm or a leg, with a decent price tag of just a couple of bucks short of RM 120,000 on the road with insurance.

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