Claw-like LED headlamps give the Peugeot 2008 distinctive looks. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Claw-like LED headlamps give the Peugeot 2008 distinctive looks. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

In 2019 Peugeot Citroën SA (PCSA) embarked on a brand-rebuilding exercise by appointing a new management team, shaking up its dealer network and focusing on improving after-sales performance.

In 2020 five new dealerships were added to raise the tally to 35. The company also implemented an intensive training programme to improve technical support, greatly increased spare parts availability at its new Midrand headquarters, and introduced a longer warranty.

The slow-selling French marque still has its work cut out to change entrenched perceptions of poor aftermarket support — some real and some imagined — but since the shake-up local Peugeot sales have seen an encouraging increase, albeit off a low base.

In terms of its product offering the brand’s star is shining brightly, led by cars such as the striking new 2008 which could help draw more feet into Peugeot showrooms.

The compact SUV is big on style and charm, underlaid by solid build quality and driver appeal.

Peugeot’s press release for the 2008 says “down with monotony” and the catchphrase doesn’t hold false promise as the car lights up the stage with bold exterior and interior styling, and a distinct X factor.

The range-topping 2008 1.2 GT is a fashion extrovert with its distinctive LED daytime running lights shaped like three claws and a fang — a nod to the lion badge that perches on Peugeot grilles.

Cheaper versions of the 2008 get less predatory-looking headlights, but the tail lights in all models follow the triple lamp theme. It’s a distinctive design that really “pops” as the marketing people like to say.

Peugeot’s compact SUV has slick handling and a comfy ride. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Peugeot’s compact SUV has slick handling and a comfy ride. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

Inside, Peugeot’s designers have similarly gone to town with interesting colours and textures. Soft-touch surfaces, metal accents and carbon fibre type trim create classy flair in the GT’s cabin, complemented by digital décor including a 3D digital instrument panel that layers functions in the driver’s line of sight. The leather-and-cloth seats have attractive contrasting stitching. It’s one of the best looking interiors in the segment and one of the most premium-feeling too.

The sun often glared off the shiny metal frame around the infotainment system however; as attractive as cabin jewellery can be, it’s not always practical.

Smartphone pairing is available through the full gamut of options — Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and USB — and the range-topping 1.2 GT model also has a smartphone charging plate.

The infotainment system comprises a large touchscreen complemented by an array of haptic switches on the dashboard. The climate control can be separately operated by smart-looking metal toggle switches, a stylish solution that simplifies the many functions available.

The 2008 scores high on practicality with its 4,300mm length and 2,600mm wheelbase, making for a roomy cabin that seats adults comfortably front and rear. The split-level boot offers a spacious 434l (with the aid of a spacesaver spare) and flipping down the rear seats creates a maw large enough to fit a fully-assembled road bicycle.

People new to Peugeot will find the steering-wheel-in-your-lap driving position takes some getting used to. This so-called i-cockpit uses a small steering wheel which has the driver peering at the instrument panel over the top of the steering rim instead of through it.

I don’t find it gives any ergonomic advantages as Peugeot claims, but grasping this compact wheel does impart some kart-like feel to the driving experience. The car doesn’t disappoint in the handling stakes, and nips through corners with good agility for a crossover that has a higher stance than a regular car.

Peering over the wheel rather than through it takes some getting used to. The classy interior has interesting textures. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Peering over the wheel rather than through it takes some getting used to. The classy interior has interesting textures. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

It has a comfortable ride too, with high-profile tyres ironing out bumps and potholes. It feels smooth and settled on rough gravel, with rattle-free solidity, and there’s good substance underpinning all that visual va-va-voom.

The front-wheel drive car has no true off-roading aspirations but there are driving programmes for mud and sand.

The 1.2 turbo three-cylinder is a perky and economical engine. Paired with a slick six-speed auto, it gives the compact SUV a nippy nature in the suburbs and easy-going open-road cruising.

A hint of a three-cylinder chortle — more charismatic than vocally intrusive — is a background noise in a car that impresses with its overall refinement.

The range-topping 1.2 GT is generously loaded with driver-assist features including lane-keeping, active cruise control, traffic-sign recognition, blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking and park assist. It scored a four-star Euro NCAP crash rating.

The 2008 was recently voted best Urban SUV in the 2021 Women’s World Car of the Year awards and not undeservedly, we feel. Notwithstanding some negative notions about Gallic cars and Peugeot’s relatively small dealer network, the 2008 blends utility and charisma with a fun-to-drive nature. It’s a fresh French breeze blowing through a very competitive category.


Tech Specs

ENGINE

Type: Three-cylinder petrol turbo

Capacity: 1,2l

Power: 96kW

Torque: 230Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: Six-speed automatic

DRIVETRAIN

Type: Front-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 198km/h

0-100km/h: 9.1 seconds

Fuel Consumption: 6.5l/100km (claimed); 7.3l /100km (as tested)

Emissions: 148g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

ABS brakes, stability control, six airbags, climate control, LED daytime running lights, electric mirrors, electric windows, personalisable ambient lighting, infotainment with 10-inch colour touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, voice control, smartphone charging plate, aluminium pedals, interior carbon effect finish, tri-material leather effect and cloth seat trim with lime green stitch detail, front heated seats, Advanced Grip Control, cruise control, lane keeping assist, speed limit recognition, blind spot monitoring, trip computer, keyless entry with push button start, reversing camera

COST OF OWNERSHIP

Price: R479,900

Warranty: Five years/100,000km

Service plan: Three years/60,000km

Lease*: R9,844 per month

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Peugeot 2008 1.2 GT auto

WE LIKE: Styling, interior décor, refinement, driver appeal

WE DISLIKE: Sun glares off interior metal

VERDICT: The most charismatic buy in the urban SUV segment

Motor News star rating

Design * * * * *

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Competition

Honda HR-V 1.8 Elegance, 105kW/172Nm — R491,400

Kia Seltos 1.4T-GDI GT Line, 103kW/242Nm — R493,995

Mazda CX-30 2.0 Dynamic auto, 121kW/213Nm — R499,000

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 2.0 GLS, 110kW/198Nm — R439,995

Volkswagen T-Roc 1.4TSI Design, 110kW/250Nm — R489,400

Nissan Qashqai 1.2T Midnight Edition, 85kW/165Nm — R485,400

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