The new Peugeot 2008 follows a familiar compact crossover recipe. It uses the same chassis architecture, engines and cabin fixtures as an already popular supermini (in this case the Peugeot 208) but adds extra ride height, a wannabe-SUV body with more cabin space, and just a hint of off-piste ability.
It’s a proven formula for Peugeot’s rivals, but does the new 2008 pull it off? We’ve driven the top-spec ‘Feline’ model to find out.
Why should I pay around £750-£1000 more for a Peugeot 2008 over a five-door 208?
Extra space, mainly – the engines and transmissions are the same, the performance and economy figures very close too. The 2008 has more front headroom, and enough rear legroom for six foot passengers behind six-foot front occupants – though headroom is a mite pinched for anyone taller. There’ll be no complaints from the kids though – especially if you choose the range-topping Feline version, as per our test car, which enjoys an enormous full-length glass roof with electric blind.
The 2008’s boot is usefully bigger too (360l plays 285l in the 208) and the 2008 has a handy flat load sill. Press a button to stow the rear seats automatically and there’s 1194 litres available. The 2008’s Nissan Juke arch enemy (which it matches for price across the range) is nowhere near as spacious inside and only musters a 251 litre load space. The new Renault Captur meanwhile is an altogether more family-friendly proposition, thanks to Clio-shaming cabin space inside the high-riding body and a 377-litre boot.
Practical then, but is there any style with the space?
The 2008’s dashboard looks cool – and familiar – it’s carried over wholesale from the 208 supermini. That’s either a masterstroke or cardinal sin depending on your particular take on its opinion-splitting design details. Remember the prominent (occasionally laggy) touchscreen, glossy temperature controls, and idiosyncratic tiny steering wheel along with dashboard-topping instruments? They’re all present and correct – and ready to cause a fuss.
There’s loads of reach and rake adjustment in the steering column, but there will inevitably be some drivers who simply can’t combine a comfortable driving position with line of sight at the dials. Sitting 25mm higher than a 208 exaggerates the ‘saucer in your lap’ sensation of steering the 2008 – it’s interesting to see Peugeot has stubbornly stuck with its love/hate mini-wheel for the new 308 hatchback too.
Since we’re always quick to point out blemishes (in flaky French cars more than others), it should be noted there was nary a rattle or creak from our well-finished test car. The £19,345 Feline we drove model gets a leather-stitched dashboard and leather seats, plus standard sat-nav and automatic parallel parking system. It feels like a high quality cabin throughout – perhaps even a little too plush for children.
What’s it like to drive?
Not as sporty as a Nissan Juke, but certainly a match for the Renault Captur and Vauxhall Mokka. Body roll is more evident than the Juke, for example, but the Peugeot is easily more comfortable, even on the 17in wheels we tried.
That miniscule steering wheel does endow a sense of nimbleness, and the light rack is very direct off centre. Flicking the 2008 through turns in town and on open roads does become natural eventually, but crucially it takes longer than a 30-minute test drive to really settle in. There’s a fairly aggressive self-centring action to get used to and some kickback on badly surfaced roads, but it’s just a foible you’ll adapt to, like the wheel itself.
The positive six-speed manual gearbox is miles better than the sloppy five-speeder in lower-spec Peugeots, and worth opting for the more potent engines to get hold of. Our test car’s 1.6-litre 113bhp diesel engine developed a decent swell of torque above 1750rpm (on paper) but really gets into its stride at 2000rpm. The engine turns gruff and vocal above 3000rpm with no extra surge in urge. Overall it makes light work of the 2008’s impressively light 1180kg.
All 2008s are fitted with mud and snow tyres as standard. Thanks to Peugeot-Citroen’s Grip Control system, drivers can select Snow, Off-Road, Mud, Sand or ESP Off settings for the traction and stability control via a Land Rover-style dial on the centre tunnel. Grip Control is essentially a weight-saving alternative to part-time all-wheel drive systems as per the 2008’s rivals, and will do the job for the majority of owners.
Peugeot’s official figures for the 2008 in HDi 115 guise state 70.6mpg – our test car averaged a more realistic mid-fifties score.
It’s good value, refined and decent to drive – the 2008 deserves it place among the hordes of compact crossovers roaming the school run. If Peugeot had seen the boom coming back in the 2008’s namesake year, Nissan wouldn’t have had the niche mini-SUV game all its own way for this long.