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First look: Peugeot’s ready-made RAV4 rival

City-crosser: Peugeot has high hopes for its first small SUV in Australia.

Peugeot to join compact SUV craze by mid-2012 with Mitsubishi ASX-based 4008

1 Oct 2011

PEUGEOT says Australia will be among the world’s first markets to receive its first city SUV when the French brand’s all-new 4008 goes on sale here by mid-2012, within months of its global public debut at the Geneva motor show in March.

Revealed simultaneously alongside sister brand Citroen’s closely related C4 Aircross, which will follow it into local showrooms late next year, the 4008 is the latest example of model sharing between PSA Peugeot Citroen and Mitsubishi.

Following on from the mid-size Outlander-based Peugeot 4007 (launched here in November 2009) and Citroen C-Crosser (not sold here), both the 4007 and C4 Aircross are based on the Japanese maker’s small ASX crossover, from which they borrow their shortened GS Lancer and Outlander-based chassis, roof and doors.

Wrapped in otherwise all-new sheetmetal - including a unique C-pillar treatment, different tailgate and specific quarter panels – the new French crossovers are themselves distinguished by exclusive front and rear styling, including cleverly differentiated bumper, bonnet, grille, headlight and tail-light designsIt is not yet clear whether both cars’ distinctive family look continues inside with a redesigned cabin, but the 4008 and Aircross will be available in Europe with smaller PSA-sourced petrol and diesel engines alongside the ASX’s larger 2.0-litre petrol and 1.8-litre turbo-diesel engines, which are most likely to become available in Australia.

Like the ASX, both French wagons will be available here in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations, joining the 4007 to give Peugeot full coverage of Australia’s booming compact SUV segment, which is now the third-biggest new vehicle class after small and light cars and the third-fastest-growing following luxury SUVs and commercials.

In fact, SUV sales have boomed around the world since 2005, dominating the Russian market with a 20 per cent share and accounting for 10 per cent of the Chinese and Western European markets.

It is unlikely that prices of the Japanese-built 4008 will start as low as 2WD versions of other small soft-roaders like the Nissan Dualis (from $24,990), the ASX ($25,990), Kia Sportage ($26,720) and Hyundai ix35 ($26,990).

But the cheapest front-drive 2.0-litre petrol-powered 4008 should be in the vicinity of the sub-$30,000 starting prices of mainstream 2WD Japanese compacts like the Nissan X-Trail ($28,490), Toyota RAV4 and Outlander (both $28,990).

23 center imageThe compact 4008 will therefore be the most affordable of three Peugeot crossovers, including the larger diesel-only 4007 mid-sizer - sales of which are down more than 17 per cent this year, leading to price cuts of up to $6500 in July, including a new $34,990 starting price - and the 308 Touring-based 3008 wagon, which was released here in July 2010 and is priced from $35,790 in diesel manual form.

Peugeot has promised the 3008 Hybrid4 will become its first (diesel-electric) hybrid model here when it also arrives in the second quarter of 2012 and, although the Mitsubishi i-MiEV-based Peugeot iOn (and Citroen’s version, the C-Zero) is not for Oz, the 3008 hybrid could be followed in the third quarter of 2012 by a second Hybrid4 model – the high-riding 508 wagon-based RXH crossover.

The 4008 is expected to be a volume seller for Peugeot in Australia, where total SUV sales have accounted for almost a quarter of all new vehicle sales this year, making it a key model in the 201-year-old French brand’s plan to increase local sales from 5600 last year to 6500 in 2011, 8500 in 2012 and, for the first time, 10,000 in 2013.

In the first eight months of this year, Peugeot sales were down 4.9 per cent at 3682.

More reinforcements will come later next year with the new 208 light hatch and 308 hatch-based 408 sedan, perhaps followed in 2013 by the new sub-light 108 hatch.

Peugeot’s current 107 is produced in the Czech Republic alongside the Citroen C1 and the mechanically identical Toyota Aygo, but PSA is believed to be in talks with Mitsubishi about sharing the ‘global small’ Colt replacement for its next city-car.

Like the C4 Aircross, the 4008 measures 4340mm long, 1800mm wide and 1630mm high, making it 345mm longer, 30mm wider and 15mm higher than the ASX, but still about 300mm shorter than the 4007.

Cargo capacity is 442 litres while the turning circle is a tight 10.6 metres.

Both new SUVs will also come with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime-running lights, touchscreen satellite-navigation, a reversing camera, keyless entry/starting, USB/Bluetooth connectivity and a panoramic glass sunroof.

As with the Aircross, the 4008 will be available globally in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations, with the choice of 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines (producing 85kW/152Nm and 113kW/198Nm respectively) and two turbo-diesels – an 82kW/280Nm 1.6-litre and a 110kW/300Nm 1.8-litre.

The most basic 2WD model matches 1.6 petrol power with a five-speed manual transmission and, although both diesel engines will be produced in 4x2 and 4x4 guises, they will be matched only with a six-speed manual.

While all three of these engines will be Euro 5 emissions-compliant, outside Europe the 4008 will be sold with a Euro 4 113kW/198Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine with either a five-speed manual or continuously variable transmission. This variant will be 4x4-only in the 4008, but will also be offered as a 4x2 in the C4 Aircross.

As in the ASX, AWD versions will feature an electronically controlled part-time 4WD system with three selectable driving modes: 2WD, 4WD and Lock.

“Australians have very specific and wide-ranging demands for these vehicles and there are a couple of 4008 models under development that are spot-on for us,” said Peugeot Automobiles Australia marketing manager Richard Grant.

“Now it’s down to equipping these models suitably and negotiating the best possible prices for what is arguably the most competitive car market in the world.

“The 4008 - in both two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive - will complement the existing 3008 and 4007 perfectly in the Peugeot model range, and all three will be on sale side-by-side.

“The compact SUV segment is exciting and growing and the 4008 will considerably broaden our appeal across the market. It will be our compact SUV while 3008 is our luxury compact offering. For its part, the recently repositioned 4007 will appeal to buyers who need something a bit bigger, especially if they need to tow.”

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