Peugeot 2008

Little Pug rights all that was previously wrong

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Peugeot 2008 Allure 1199cc 3cyl, dohc, 12v, turbo 81kW @ 5500rpm 205Nm @ 1500rpm 6-speed automatic 1305kg 11.3sec (claimed) 4.8L/100km $30,990 Now

Little Pug rights all that was previously wrong

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

SEQUELS. Most pale against their original, but as with the Morris Minor 1000 and Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan, sometimes subsequent attempts work a charm.

Enter the Peugeot 2008 facelift. Not an epic generational change, granted, since the visual makeover is limited to a more butch nose treatment, beefier cladding, lion’s claw-like LED tail-lights, chunkier alloys, and the obligatory touchscreen multimedia update.

However, what has been upgraded has turned a flawed if sweet handling, comfy riding, and classily packaged small SUV into an unexpectedly complete mid-spec Mazda CX-3 agitator.

The first move involved ousting two completely unsuitable atmo petrol powertrain choices. We’re talking about the 60kW/118Nm 1.2-litre triple/manual (willing but weedy) and 88kW/160Nm 1.6 fourpot/ four-speed auto (gutsier but woefully dated). Both give way to a sparkling 81kW/205Nm 1.2-litre turbo triple with standard six-speed automatic that also services the closely related 208 supermini.

The transformation turns the 2008’s driveability from despondent to determined (or dazzling if you’re familiar with the old one). Replacing off-the-line lethargy is a rorty and punchy performer offering a level of mid-range acceleration and flexibility that only the criminally ignored, and now sadly discontinued, 68kW/230Nm 1.6-litre HDi turbo-diesel manual Outdoor variant could match. The Toyotasupplied torque-converter auto is also a slick-shifting delight. And fuel economy almost matches the parsimonious old diesel.

A correspondingly lighter (by 12kg) front axle compared to the previous 1.6-litre mainstay enables even greater steering agility. Backed up by the same supple suspension tune as before, this 2008 is set-up for the keen driver and comfort seeker alike.

Meanwhile, deep side windows and a commanding view ahead – thanks to Peugeot’s controversial ‘i-Cockpit’ low-wheel/highinstrument driving position set-up – further engender a sense of confidence.

We’ve always applauded the better-than-mainstream dashboard detailing, which includes pretty analogue instruments, a lovely leather-clad wheel and contrasting metallic trim, so happily nothing much has changed inside.

But nor have the previous iteration’s occasional hard-plastic trimmings, awkwardly placed and insufficiently large cupholders (surely the French don’t only drink café noisette), or small glovebox.

All models score more gear than before, including a reverse camera, rear parking sensors and Apple CarPlay, while cruise control with speed limiter, electric mirrors, and alloy wheels are also standard.

With no more manuals (or atmo engines) available, membership into the now all-turbo 2008 club jumps $4000, but even at $26,490, the base Active auto spells value.

In fact, aside from non-manual availability, occasional road noise, and no AEB on the base variant, Peugeot’s one-time small SUV underachiever is now a likeably complete package. The 2008 cuts the mustard this second time around. It deserves to be a blockbuster.

PLUS & MINUS

No AEB availability on base car; limited-run five-year warranty Performance; efficiency; space; styling; comfort; handling; vision

Stop-go show

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) isn’t yet available on the entry Active (pictured above); you’ll need to stretch to the mid-range $30,990 Allure for that. The latter also nets sat-nav, swankier seat trim, auto parking, 17-inch alloys, and Grip Control – a stability- and traction-control enhancement that allows for slow progress over sand, mud and snow. The $32,990 GT-Line flagship is essentially a wheels-and-stripes package.

No AWD is offered. If you’re quick, Peugeot will also throw in a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.