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Future models - Peugeot - 4008

First drive: Peugeot’s petrol-only 4008

Bonjour: The new Peugeot 4008 will battle the Volkswagen Tiguan and Renault Koleos.

No diesel for now as Peugeot targets compact SUV market with remodelled Mitsubishi

Peugeot logo23 Apr 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

AUSTRALIA will be one of the first markets in the world to receive the Peugeot 4008 when sales commence on June 9 – less than three months after the compact SUV’s global debut at the Geneva motor show.

Although pricing will be announced closer to that date, it is expected be competitive with European rivals such as the Volkswagen Tiguan and Renault Koleos – both of which kick off from $28,490 – but not as cheap as the $25,990 Mitsubishi ASX on which it is based.

However, Peugeot Australia does not plan to offer a diesel variant of the 4008 (pronounced ‘four thousand and eight’) any time soon due to the lack of an automatic transmission, which it regards as vital for the Australian market.

As a result of the limited range, Peugeot’s initial sales expectations are modest, with only 950 units coming to Australia this year and a further 1600 earmarked to arrive from Japan in 2013.

Interestingly, 70 per cent of global sales will be outside of Western Europe, as Peugeot strives “to gain legitimacy” in the compact SUV world after the lacklustre 4007 – a larger Mitsubishi-based crossover that made little impression worldwide and will be replaced.

The 4008 is more than just a badge-engineered ASX.

Work on the Peugeot variation started soon after an agreement with Mitsubishi was signed in 2010 and, according to one company insider, Peugeot even influenced Mitsubishi to alter the shape of the doors in 2008, as the two firms were already in talks at the time.

The 4008’s sheetmetal is different on every panel forward of the windscreen and aft of the rear doors, with a unique C-pillar window treatment designed to convey an “upmarket” feeling.

To some observers, the Peugeot’s treatment is more successful than the Mitsubishi’s, thanks to the application of a stronger front fascia, wheelarch extensions, increased underbody protection, more body brightwork and a slightly lower and wider stance.

“It wears the new Peugeot aesthetic, like a little bodybuilder. That’s what we call it here,” said long-time PSA Peugeot Citroen designer Cristian Gudima.

The rear-end styling, with the tail-lights featuring a boomerang-like graphic is meant to link the 4008 to the new 208.

23 center imageInside the differences are cosmetic, extending to what the French refer to as more ‘premium’ materials for the dashboard surrounds, door and console inserts, with a different steering wheel, instrument lighting and audio.

Peugeot made a concerted effort to quieten the vehicle, with extra sound-deadening material fitted to the doors and engine-bay firewall, which also resulted in making the doors feel weightier than on the ASX.

“We added some more weight to the way the doors feel … more quality, as demanded by European buyers,” said Mr Gudima.

Like the ASX, the 4008 is powered by a 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing, producing 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 197Nm of torque at 4200rpm, with drive going to either the front or all four wheels via a five-speed manual or six-speed CVT (continuously variable transmission) with paddle shifts.

Fuel economy for the manual front-drive model is 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres (0.4L/100km better than the CVT-equipped AWD model) and carbon dioxide emissions are 181 grams per kilometre.

Riding on the same 2670mm wheelbase as the ASX, the 4008 has MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension, electric-assist power steering, seven airbags, ABS brakes and electronic stability control.

It is 45mm longer than the ASX and 13mm taller, as well as 20kg heavier, has ground clearance of 200mm, with approach and break-over angles of 19 degrees, and a departure angle of 31 degrees.

The power steering has been tuned to provide a slightly heavier feel, with an emphasis on greater linearity at higher speeds, while the springs and dampers have been modified “for a more ‘European feel’ commensurate with the marque’s dynamic heritage”.

Despite the work carried out to separate it from the ASX, the 4008 feels, behaves and even smells just like every other recent Mitsubishi SUV.

Although the integration of the smart French nose and quite anonymous tail is a success, the interior is too much like the ASX to elevate the 4008 above the cheap and plasticky levels of the Japanese car. Piano-black trim, Peugeot-specific wheel, leather upholstery and other minor differences help spice up the cabin, but the shapes, graphics and odour scream ‘Mitsubishi’.

At idle and pottering around, the extra noise suppression gear makes the 4008 sufficiently hushed and refined, but press the throttle hard and the hitherto smooth and quiet twin-cam petrol unit turns into a sound amplifier, courtesy of the CVT gearbox.

This transmission has been around for a while now and is beginning to show wrinkles in an age of dual-clutch items in terms of response and driveability.

While acceleration is never short of willing and able, the noise simply obliterates any illusions that the 4008 can take it up to the better Europeans like the Skoda Yeti or Tiguan (or even the very capable new Mazda CX-5) for refinement and performance.

The Mitsubishi DNA is also very obvious in the dynamic department.

The steering is slightly heavier at all speeds but is no more involving in terms of feedback and, while the 4008 AWD clings to the road surface faithfully, you just won’t get a kick from cornering like in the Ford Kuga or CX-5.

Single-lane cobblestone streets revealed pliant and comfy suspension, and excellent manoeuvrability, while a mild but dedicated 4x4 track showed the advantages of good ground and ramp-angle clearances.

We came away liking the 4008 the more we drove it, even if the keen driver in us was bored. From a practical and reliability point of view, the Mitsubishi DNA enhances the 4008, but the mechanical rough edges keep it from the top of the compact SUV class.

To some eyes, the design moves on from the ASX. The interior’s superficial gloss does lift it slightly above the terminally dull, and the dynamic balance of what is already a competent and dependable compact SUV has been enhanced a tad.

It will doubtless be more exclusive and there will be a $330 fixed-priced servicing plan for the duration of the three-year warranty, but the unpretentious and underrated Mitsubishi will be cheaper and comes with a longer (five-year) warranty.

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