2021 Peugeot 2008 First Drive: Baby SUV with Big Ambitions
Price & Specs:7
Performance & Economy:8.5
Ride & Handling:8
Interior & Practicality:9.5
What we like:
  • Class-leading interior presentation
  • Excellent to drive
  • Spacious for the class
What we don't:
  • Very expensive
  • Driving position not for everyone
  • No local electric version... yet
8.3DiscoverAuto Rating

This week saw the launch of the brand new 2021 Peugeot 2008 small SUV in Australia and it represents change in the French brand that’s been replicated throughout the industry. You see, Peugeot’s light hatchback has always been an iconic car for the brand. The 205 birthed the iconic GTi while the 206 racked up over 8.3 millions sales, becoming the marque’s best-selling car ever. In 2012, the first-generation 208 marked a step change for the Peugeot – focusing on improving quality and design.

Fast forward to 2020 and the game has changed significantly. Light cars are struggling to justify their stay in the Australian market and SUVs are king. So, it seems fit that the proverbial baton is passed from the 208 to the new 2008 as the French brand’s price-leading SUV and without it, survival would be tough.

We had the chance to step behind the wheel of the new-generation 2008 before its local launch later this year to see how it stacks up against the status quo. Does it have the substance to back up the style? Let’s find out.

Want a quick summary on the Peugeot 2008? Watch our DiscoverAuto 10 Things video where we reveal five things we love about it and five things we don’t. And make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for the all latest video content from DiscoverAuto.

Price & Specs: 7.0/10

The new generation 2008 is built on PSA Group’s new CMP modular platform that allows for more efficient packaging than the previous model and the availability of an all-electric model. At 4,300mm long and 1,770mm wide, it’s 141mm longer and 31mm wider than the model it replaces and the wheelbase has grown by 68mm – which should free up some interior space.

The range kicks off with the 2008 Allure priced from $34,990 before on roads before stretching out to the GT Sport at $43,990. Eventually, there will also be a GT Line to plug the gap between the two.

The Allure is well equipped for a base model – offering all the usual safety aids including autonomous emergency braking (AEB), distance warning alert, driver fatigue warning, tyre-pressure monitoring and six airbags. It also gets rain-sensing wipers, automatic LED headlights and tail lights, front foglights with cornering functionality, 17-inch two tone alloy wheels, dual chrome exhausts (which aren’t fake!), gloss black roof rails, rear parking sensors and a 180º reverse camera.

Inside, you’re treated with Peugeot’s latest 3D i-Cockpit digital driver’s display, a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB digital radio, a six-speaker audio system, one USB-A and one USB-C port in the front, two USB-A ports in the rear, push-button start, an electronic parking brake, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear selector, leather-look and cloth upholstery, ‘Advanced Grip Control’ with sand, snow and mud modes, single-zone automatic climate control, auto-folding/heated mirrors, an auto-dimming interior rearview mirror, and all-round electric power windows with one-touch up/down.

In the safety department, upgrading to the GT Sport adds blind-spot monitoring with steering correction, a more advanced autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system that can detect cyclists and pedestrians in low-light conditions, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane-keep assist and automatic high beam.

The GT Sport also gets upgraded LED headlights with Peugeot’s ‘3-Claw’ design that features on other models such as the 508, a proximity key, front parking sensors with park assist, 18-inch alloy wheels, a contrast black roof, Nappa leather upholstery with heated front seats and an electric driver’s seat with massage functionality, soft-touch trim on the front doors, a drive mode selector with eco, normal and sport modes, a frameless automatic-dimming rearview mirror, a larger 10.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with inbuilt navigation, wireless smartphone charging, ambient lighting and aluminium pedals.

The only option available is the panoramic sunroof on the GT Sport for $1,990 while premium paints range from $690 for the usual metallic paints to $1,050 for Pearl White, Elixir Red and Vertigo Blue – the latter two featuring a coloured top coat for enhanced depth. 

There’s not doubt that the 2008 delivers on style, equipment and interior quality when compared to its compact SUV rivals – such as the Volkswagen T-Cross – but the price of entry is higher than most models top out at. A T-Cross 85TSI Life can be had for just $27,990 before on roads, a substantial $7,000 lower than the entry point of the 2008 range. At the other end, the fully-optioned 85TSI Style tops out at $36,190 plus on roads versus a fully-specced GT Sport for $47,030 – which is comfortably entering the class above in terms of pricing.

Performance & Economy: 8.5/10

From launch, the 2021 Peugeot 2008 will be available with Peugeot Citroen’s familiar 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine in two distinct flavours. The Allure gets it in 96kW/230Nm guise paired with an Aisin-sourced six-speed automatic transmission that sends power to solely the front wheels. The GT Sport ups the ante with revised internals – including a high-flow turbo and a larger intake – and different tune, massaging the same 1.2 to a meaty 114kW/240Nm. It also gets a more advanced Aisin-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission sending the power to the front wheels.

Despite spending a limited time behind the wheel during the launch drive, the Allure immediately impressed with its eager drivetrain, feeling every bit as responsive as that 230Nm suggests. The six-speed auto makes for a relaxing drive, happily dealing with stop/start traffic in its stride and proving that a good torque converter is still king when it comes to urban areas. Get up to speed and it also chooses gears in a fuss-free manner – maintaining a quiet and calm demeanour by relying on its healthy dose of torque.

“The six-speed auto makes for a relaxing drive, happily dealing with stop/start traffic in its stride and proving that a good torque converter is still king when it comes to urban areas.”

Jump from the Allure to the GT Sport and you can immediately tell the difference in attitude. The traditional gear knob is replaced by Peugeot’s sleek electronic selector that also offers a manual mode to go with the column-mounted paddles. Give it some beans and it feels quicker than its claimed 8.9 seconds to 100km/h time (a full second quicker than the Allure) with a sporting nature that is lacking from any of its competitors. That 95% of the torque is available from 1,500rpm means that you don’t have to thrash the little three-cylinder to make good progress. 

While we didn’t get enough time to get a realistic economy figure, the Allure and GT Sport are rated at 6.5L/100km and 6.1L/100km respectively (according to the WLTP combined cycle) – an impressive feat to have the more powerful model also be the more frugal of the two.

The 2008 easily outclasses the Volkswagen T-Cross’ 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo’s 85kW/200Nm regardless of which spec you choose, but it is worth noting that the bigger Volkswagen T-Roc can be had for similar money to the GT Sport, and that gets a more powerful 2.0-litre turbo with all-wheel drive.

Ride & Handling: 8.0/10

Peugeot’s expertise in suspension shows in the 2008, with the little SUV striking a masterful balance between handling and ride quality. We spent more time on twisty backroads in the GT Sport, which definitely errs more on the side of sporty – happily turning in when flung into a corner and gripping with little in the way of complaints. A torsion beam at the rear means it can step out slightly in a mid-corner bump and there is definitely a firm edge to the ride but it’s never uncomfortable.

The small steering wheel and reasonable kerb weight means that the 2021 Peugeot 2008 shifts direction with little input, almost feeling like a (very well-finished) go-kart on stilts. Sport mode weights up the steering noticeably, which helps alleviate the hyper-alertness that comes with the small rim and quick ratio.

“The small steering wheel and reasonable kerb weight means that the 2008 shifts direction with little input, almost feeling like a (very well-finished) go-kart on stilts.”

The Allure offers a vastly different proposition. The ride is a bit more cosseting on the slightly chubbier tyres and the drive modes are swapped for Peugeot’s ‘Advanced Grip Control’, meaning that there’s less emphasis on the ‘Sport’ in this SUV.

The Volkswagen T-Cross offers a similar ride quality to the Allure but lacks the sporty flair of the GT Sport, even when optioned with the R-Line package. Compact SUVs are designed to appeal to your head and your heart, and the 2008 does a better job at both.

Interior & Practicality: 9.5/10

The 2021 Peugeot 2008 has the nicest cabin in the class. A big claim, yes, but it delivers in every way. The design is striking and the fit and finish is better than some from the segment above. Everything from the bright colour screens perched up high to the contrasting textures to the tactility of the switchgear – it all comes together in a premium package that feels at least two years newer than anything else on the market.

There are neat practical touches like a flip down cover for the wireless charger that doubles as a phone holder and a 3D design to the i-Cockpit instrument cluster that isn’t only striking but serves to display crucial information – such as collision alert – in the foreground. Those who like to sit low down with their arms out straight will struggle to find a comfortable driving position in the 2008, which intends have the steering wheel in your lap do you can look over it at the dials. Once you adjust to it, the heads-up style of dials is a welcome change as it places all of your driver information in your direct line of sight.

“Those who like to sit low down with their arms out straight will struggle to find a comfortable driving position in the 2008, which intends have the steering wheel in your lap do you can look over it at the dials.”

The infotainment system is slick and modern regardless of whether you pick the Allure with its 7.0-inch screen or the GT Sport with its 10.0-inch screen. The former has capacitive touch buttons flanking the screen while the larger unit places them behind the piano-like hard keys below the screen. Some will detest the lack of physical switchgear for the climate control but at least the touchscreen is quick and responsive. When using Apple CarPlay the climate controls are always available on either side of the screen, a neat touch.

The materials are what really stands out in the 2008’s cabin. A lot of the class will have cheaper and hard materials on most surfaces in the cabin, with few yielding plastic or leather-like surfaces, but the 2008 offers a soft dash top as well as soft plastics on the front doors, neon green stitching and ambient lighting in the GT Sport. It may seems like a superficial aspect to a car’s interior, but a it goes a long way to making if feel less like a sub-$20K city car and more like a properly premium product.

The rear seat space offers decent headroom and legroom for two adults and the boot has grown from 410 litres to a sizeable 434 litres. Fold the seats down that increases to 1,467 litres, which is handily bigger than the T-Cross’ 385 litres / 1,281 litres and even the bigger T-Roc’s 392 litres / 1,237 litres. The 2008 also presents as a more premium offering than either, which partially offsets the price.

Running Costs & Warranty: TBC

The 2021 Peugeot 2008 will be covered by Peugeot’s five-year and unlimited kilometre warranty, including five-year roadside assistance and five-year Service Price Promise program. Pricing under its service plan will be revealed closer to its December launch.

2021 Peugeot 2008 DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.3/10

Our first drive of the 2021 Peugeot 2008 reveals that its new baby SUV offers a premium option in one of the most hotly-contested segments in the Australian market. The only hurdle Peugeot will have when it lands in December is convincing consumers to look past the price, as some competitors can be had for notably less money.

Those that do will be treated to an SUV that’s packed with advanced technology, a stylish and thoroughly modern design with a high-quality interior that trumps the status quo.

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