• Peugeot's new 2008 is now on sale in South Africa.
• The SUV is powered by a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
• The top GT model offers 96kW/230Nm.
• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24.
It has been 18 months since Peugeot has launched a new product in South Africa. During this time they have set up a new operation locally, they are now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Peugeot globally, which is part of the Stellantis group.
Out of sight, out of mind
The motoring landscape has changed substantially in those 18 months; the shift to compact SUVs has been enormous. All the major players now offer compact SUVs at similar prices, and the products are great. Peugeot too is joining this segment with the launch of the 2008 in South Africa but face an uphill battle in luring customers back to their brand.
Powerful and distinctive in style, the Peugeot 2008 is a sculptural and desirable object. The balanced lines and overall proportions are those of an SUV, with a recessed windshield that makes the bonnet more horizontal, creating a strong body. The car sits well on its wheels, perfectly shouldered, strong, and reassuring. The front incorporates a proud and straight grille, a carved bonnet, and LED daytime running lights.
Sliding into the cabin, you are immediately greeted by the compact steering wheel, which Peugeot claims aids in handling. The only problem is that it completely obstructs your view of the instrument cluster in certain seating positions. At the same time, the cruise control buttons are also hidden behind its rim. If there ever was a car that needed a Heads Up Display, this is it.
Practicality aside, behind that steering wheel, is the Peugeot i-Cockpit 3D instrument cluster, which projects information in a hologram format across its digital display. Indications are dynamic and animated, meaning they get closer to the eye depending on their degree of importance or urgency. Peugeot claims this will increase reactivity by around half a second.
Door panels are decorated with tampo-printing in Orange on Active models or Blue on Allure. The interior is well finished with a mix of high-quality materials, ensuring a premium feel.
In addition to the traditional door pockets and glove box, there is ample storage space under the front centre armrest and in front of the gear lever. There is more discreet storage at the bottom of the centre console, including wireless charging and its lid can cleverly hold a smartphone.
The array of driving aids include Drive Assist plus which incorporates lane departure avoidance system and adaptive cruise control, park assist, automatic emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring.
Smartphone information is mirrored onto the central screen via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and in addition to the induction-charging zone, four USB sockets are available.
The buttons housed within the centre console, for controlling the hazard lights, air conditioning, and accessing specific menus within the central display are beautifully designed. Still, their mode of operation will take some getting used to.
A length of 4.30m and wheelbase of 2.60m ensure spaciousness for all passengers and a respectable boot volume.
Although the 2008 is available with petrol, diesel and electric powertrains globally, South Africa will only be getting petrol-powered models.
Under the bonnet is a three-cylinder, 1.2-litre engine that produces 74kW and 205Nm when paired with a six-speed manual transmission or 96kW and 230Nm when coupled to the six-speed automatic transmission.
All models are front-wheel drive but Peugeots Grip Control, which is a fancy stability control system, catering for various road surfaces, does a great job of putting the power down.
Our launch route included approximately 30km of gravel roads and with the recent rains in Gauteng, these roads had turned into a muddy mess. Tackling the road with trepidation at first we soon realised that the 2008 remained happy despite the horrendous conditions. The Grip Control did an excellent job of ensuring that forward momentum is retained and that the SUV is pointing in the right direction all the time. The vehicle is well sprung, ensuring good interior comfort, without ever bottoming out, even across the rougher patches.
While many faux SUVs might have stumbled at this hurdle, the 2008 took the opportunity and impressed with its surefootedness and ride comfort, showcasing that it is more than just a good looking car.
Unfortunately Peugeot does not have the best reputation in South Africa, mostly due to how the brand was managed in recent years and how customers who did have issues with their cars in the past were treated.
Peugeot South Africa says that their new subsidiary has all the processes in place to rectify this perception, including a good parts supply and will be doing everything to give the brand the best chance possible of succeeding in a competitive market
Previous perceptions excluded, the Peugeot 2008 is a great car. The styling, technology and engine impressed with their execution. Yes it does have some quirks, but for some buyers that is part of the attraction and something that they are willing to live with.
The range is available in three specification levels; Active, Allure and GT Line which are differentiated by different grille designs.
2008 1.2 Active - R359 900
2008 1.2 Active Auto - R399 000
2008 1.2 Allure Auto - R429 900
2008 1.2 GT Auto - R479 900
All models are sold with a three-year/60 000km service plan and a five-year/100 000km warranty.