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Driven: Sharp starting price for Peugeot 2008

Splash-down: Peugeot's low-cost 2008 has landed and enters a fiercely competitive small SUV segment.

Peugeot matches Juke with $21,990 opening gambit for vital 2008 crossover

Peugeot logo7 Oct 2013

PEUGEOT has launched its crucial 2008 compact crossover this week with an aggressive starting price of just $21,990 (plus on-road costs), with the struggling French brand aiming to improve its sales performance in Australia and capitalise on a booming new market segment.

The bold pricing move for the all-new city SUV undercuts the recently launched Holden Trax by $1500 and matches the soon-to-be-released Nissan Juke, giving the European contender every chance of securing a foothold in one of Australia’s fastest-growing segments – up 20 per cent this year – which is swelling with contenders and has the Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur and others still to come.

The 2008 is a key plank in the company’s strategy to push volume here following a six per cent sales slide so far this year, and arrives just a week after independent distributor Sime Darby announced a management overhaul that has seen Peugeot Automobiles Australia director Bill Gillespie leave the company.

Together with the second-generation 308 small car from mid-2014, and the recently released 208 light hatch, the 2008 will underpin a refreshed product focus led by Mr Gillespie’s replacement, John Startari, in the newly created role of Sime Darby Distribution general manager for both Peugeot and Citroen vehicles.

PSA Peugeot in France claims the 2008 is its first truly ‘international’ model in the car-maker’s 131-year history, and names Australia – along with South America and Asia – as one of the major growth markets.

To that end, all stops have been pulled out to bring the 2008 to Australia in record time for a Peugeot model, arriving here just six months on from its European launch to establish the brand as one of the segment pioneers. Even quicker releases are planned for future models.

It is hoped that the newcomer will gain an early foothold in the city SUV segment, which is expected to boom globally after the runaway sales success of the Juke. PSA says demand for the 2008 has already far exceeded supply in Europe.

But while a model range consisting of three- and four-cylinder engine variants will be available from the outset, the expected volume-selling $24,990 Active variant with automatic transmission will cost $600 more than the Juke equivalent.

Furthermore, it comes with an outmoded four-speed automatic compared to the Nissan’s more efficient continuously variable transmission, as cash-strapped Peugeot struggles to finalise its next-generation gearboxes co-developed with General Motors and earmarked for production from 2015 at the earliest.

Similarly, the $700 more expensive Trax automatic is paired to an engine that is 200cc larger than the corresponding 2008’s and has six forward ratios, to help offset the difference there.

Architecturally, the 2008 is built on PSA’s ‘P1’ platform that debuted with the new 208, and benefits from many of its kilo-paring measures such as the extensive use of lightweight materials and minimal front and rear overhangs, but is stretched and raised for its role as a crossover. Its development began in France in 2010.

Key overall length (4159mm), width (1739mm) and height (1556mm) measurements are 195mm, 25mm, and 96mm larger than the 208 respectively, while ground clearance is 165mm – 25mm higher than the baby hatch. Wheelbase comes in at 2538mm.

Unlike the old 4007 and existing 4008 SUVs, nothing is shared with any Mitsubishi model.

Significantly, no all-wheel-drive option is in the pipeline at this time.

While reflecting similar styling cues, the five-door wagon body is completely different to the 208 (as opposed to the slow-selling 207 SW wagon that it replaces), with considerably more interior space for its more family-focused orientation.

Some of the 2008’s visual trademarks include a ‘roof wave’ to make the cabin seem roomier, integrated roof bars, blacked-out lower body extremities, squared-off wheelarches, lashings of chrome trim, Peugeot’s new corporate floating grille and LED daytime driving lights.

Corresponding with the added ride height are loftier seating positions, but the deep side windows and a driving position defined by a low-set steering wheel and high-set instrument binnacle are pure 208.

But the crossover does gain specific blue dash lighting and an ‘aviation-style’ manual handbrake, as part of a redesigned lower console area, while LED roof track lights and a glass roof are unique options.

The base 2008 Active is available in two petrol drivetrain specifications – a 1.2-litre three-cylinder VTi with a five-speed manual, and a 1.6-litre four-cylinder VTi available with either a five-speed manual or aforementioned four-speed auto.

Tipping the scales at a flyweight 1053kg, the 1.2 triple produces a diminutive 60kW of power at 5750rpm and 118Nm of torque at 2750rpm, resulting in a 0-100km/h dash time of 13.5 seconds on the way to a 169km/h top speed.

It returns official combined-cycle fuel consumption of 4.9 litres per 100km on 95 RON premium unleaded, which is equivalent to 114 grams per kilometre of CO2.

In comparison, the 1086kg 1.6-litre four delivers 88kW at 6000rpm and 160Nm at 4250rpm, completing the 0-100km/h run in 9.5 seconds (1113kg auto: 11.2s). It also returns 5.9L/100km (auto: 6.5L/100km) and 135g/km (auto: 150g/km).

Aided by automatic engine idle-stop technology, the 1164kg 1.6-litre e-HDi four-cylinder turbo-diesel Outdoor model is a five-speed manual-only proposition (Sime Darby has elected not to bring in the EGC automated manual option).

The oil-burner produces 68kW at 4000rpm and 230Nm at 1750rpm and reaches 100km/h from standstill in 11.5 seconds. It has a 181km/h top speed, while economy and CO2 emissions are 4.0L/100km and 103g/km respectively.

Because of its lack of a full automatic, Peugeot expects the diesel to be only a niche player in the market.

As no four-wheel-drive version is planned for now, the Outdoor introduces a new ESC electronic stability control-based front-wheel torque vectoring option known as Grip Control, which allows the 2008 to amble through mud, sand and snow.

All four-cylinder variants use engines shared with BMW.

Unfortunately, the higher-output 84kW/270Nm 1.6 HDi with a six-speed manual transmission is not earmarked for Australia for the time being.

Expect to see 2008s fitted with turbo-petrol engine options in the future these will most probably bring the new six- or eight-speed automatic transmission options with them.

As with the 208, the steering is an electric rack and pinion set-up, while the suspension is via ‘pseudo’ MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam in the rear.

All 2008s include a full suite of front, side and curtain airbags, ESC, ABS brakes, hill-start assist, cruise control with speed limiter, a rear camera within a seven-inch multi-function touchscreen, rear parking radar, power windows all round, remote central locking, roof bars, multi-function steering wheel, power operated door mirrors (with heating), four-wheel disc brakes, Bluetooth/USB audio and alloy wheels.

Cargo volume is rated at 410 litres with the rear split-fold seats in place and 1400L when folded down.

As with all Peugeots, the baby crossover comes with a five-year fixed-price servicing.

Soon the 2008 will be built in China and Brazil as well as in France, which supplies all of our vehicles.

Once full production is underway, some 200,000 units will be manufactured annually, making the new crossover one of the most important Peugeots to be released in a long time.

Peugeot 2008 pricing*
1.2 VTi Active $21,990
1.6 VTi Active Petrol (a)$24,990
1.6 VTi Allure Petrol$27,990
1.6 VTi Allure Petrol (a)$29,990
1.6 e-HDi Outdoor$31,990
*Excludes on-road costs.

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