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The Lion roars - Peugeot 2008 GT


Peugeot has renewed its 2008, arriving at a time when the genre of small SUVs is all the rage. Is it time for the Lion to roar?

Words: Kyle Cassidy   |   Photos Kyle Cassidy/Supplied
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Timing is everything, or so they say, and Peugeot is landing its new 2008 small SUV here at the right moment. The market segment in which it drops is going bananas at present, on a dramatic trajectory skywards as it eats into sales of small and compact hatches.

However, Peugeot is not alone with a new offering. Just recently VW has added T-Cross, and Skoda the Kamiq, while Kia’s Seltos is a runaway success. And there’s a new Nissan Juke too, not to mention all the others already on sale, with the Toyota Yaris Cross due soon as well.

The new 2008 is the second generation of the brand’s smallest SUV. Locally Peugeot is expecting big things from its smallest new star, saying it has the potential to become its best seller, topping the 3008, with ambitions of some 400 retails before the year’s out. They are wanting to lure existing 2008 owners, of which there are 600, with the new model, one that is a giant step up on its predecessor in all aspects.

The interior has a certain flair that aligns with Peugeot’s desire to add a dash of that premium feel to the mass market.

They tell us the 2008 is a continuation of Peugeot’s product strategy to bring a sense of the premium class to the masses; a quality, design-centric offering without the high price. Where the old range began at $29,990, the new starts at $33,990 but it’s an all-new model with more on offer. New 2008 is based on PSA’s latest version of the Common Modular Platform, also used by the 208 (coming in early 2021) and it’s available with an electric powertrain too. However, demand from Europe means we won’t see that here until at least 2021, and even then it’ll be subject to pricing, with an expected 30-40 per cent premium.

The range starts with the Active at $33,990 while the middle-tier Allure is $39,990. Both are powered by a 1.2 turbopetrol making 96kW and 230Nm of torque, sent to the front wheels via a six-speed auto. The claims include 0-100km/h in 9.3sec and 6.5L/100km on average. The $45,990 GT steps up with a gruntier 114kW tune of the 1.2 with 240Nm made at 1750rpm. It has an eight-speed auto so is both a bit brisker (0-100km/h in 8.2sec, we got 8.6) and more economical at 6.1L/100km (we recorded 8.9L/100km). At 4.3m long and 1.8m wide, it’s bigger than the T-Cross and Kamiq, and is more on par with the Seltos and CX-30. It’s not quite as long in the wheelbase as the Kia, so isn’t as roomy in the rear, but does okay on boot space, which Peugeot measures at 434L, one up on the Seltos.

There’s AEB and lane keeping for Active and Allure while the GT adds active cruise with stop and go, an improved AEB system to pick up stray pedestrians and cyclists, active lane keeping and blind spot monitoring. The GT’s LED lighting system also has active high beam assist. Other niceties for the GT buyers include the diamond black roof and 18-inch alloys.

Inside, the Allure and GT gain the flash 10-inch touchscreen and digital dials, all have Smartphone connectivity while the GT also adds a charge pad. New for Peugeot is a five-year warranty period, though the 100,000km limit still applies. There aren’t many options to pick from, apart from paint choices. It’s okay if you like white but Peugeot is now charging extra for anything else, ranging from $550 to $950 for the pearlescent effects.

On the front we see the new face of Peugeot with a more upright grille and the ‘fang’ LEDs. Not quite as apparent are the sculptured flanks, while the rising beltline and black roof all combine to make a good impression.

Inside too, the interior has a certain flair that aligns with Peugeot’s desire to add a dash of that premium feel to the mass market. The surface linings carry on the good form of the 3008 and the overall design is distinctive. It’s a black affair but the ambient lighting and alloy splashes give it life. There’s a minimalist approach too, with just a few hard keys to help navigate around the infotainment screen. This sits atop the dash, on the same plane as the instruments so your eyes can seamlessly flit between the two on the go. The surface buttons lack for haptic feedback but respond quickly, as does the touchscreen, while voice control helps ease navigation inputs. With Apple and Android connectivity, all bases are covered.

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Storage is adequate without being generous - the French must not carry much with them on the go - and the cup holders are big enough for takeaway coffees only. There is however a neat solution for the smartphone, the chargepad hiding behind a flip down door which provides a secure resting spot for the device when not charging.

Despite the big GT chairs up front doing their best to rob rear seat space, there’s still enough back there to be class competitive, while the headroom isn’t compromised by the fitment of a sunroof. The all black interior doesn’t do much for the feeling of airiness however. The seat is a tad firm and upright but a pair of easily accessible USB chargers should help keep them glued to their devices and therefore blissfully unaware. The boot is wide and deep for the segment, especially if you lower the floor to its lowest setting.

Peugeot’s triple delivers ample oomph for town work, the torque readily produced, even from a standstill, and is well processed by the eight-speed auto. This is quick on the kickdown too, with no need to constantly floor the gas to get moving; it’s a small but willing powertrain. The steering is light weighted, though we’re still adjusting to the shape of the squashed wheel after all these years. At least the 2008’s turning circle is sharp. The ride is fine too but not quite plush, the bigger wheels sniffing out more of the minor bumps than desirable, yet sorting larger ones well. Although the active cruise control is managed via a wand behind the wheel, it’s easy enough to set and manipulate by feel once you’re familiarised, the system managing its distance keeping and halting duties smoothly. Unfortunately the active lane keeping system is annoyingly studious, and while the kill switch is within reach, it’s obscured by the steering wheel.

Some might find themselves hemmed in behind the wheel, which sits low in order for the i-Cockpit instruments to function as intended, while the centre console and door handle are in close proximity on either side. The seats look special, GT-appropriate with their bolstering, and apart from a lack of lower back support, are rather nice, especially as they can be set low. The heating elements fire up quickly to get the blood flowing on wintry mornings. Despite its racy glasshouse, the outward vision is sound, as are the mirrors and reversing camera.

This flows well through the curves. There’s a slight starch to the ride at speed too, but challenging dips and bumps it seems to take care of, while the transitioning weight is controlled. This holds on well in the bends with a good feel for the bounds of grip. The steering and gearbox benefit from the Sport mode, the helm adding resistance to help on the turns and the auto gets a jolt to swap the cogs quicker. The little engine can go out of town as well, revving like a champ and sounding tough.

If you like standout styling, but not the sort the Juke serves up, you’ll like this Peugeot. On pricing and specification it’s right in the hunt with its Euro competitors, while existing 2008 owners will be wowed with the update. It’s a hugely improved player from Peugeot.

The Stats

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Model Peugeot 2008 GT  Price $45,990

Engine 1199cc, IL3, T/DI, 114kW/240Nm

Transmission 8-speed auto, front-wheel drive

Vitals 8.92sec 0-100km/h, 6.1L/100km, 138g/km, 1308kg

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