Quirky French lion - 2018 Peugeot 2008
Peugeot is not a familiar name.
At least in these parts. Obscure French cars built for European markets tend to be that way—you'll be hard pressed to find a person on the street who'd know how to pronounce the name, let alone name its country of origin. One passer-by, struck by the 2008's Ultimate Red paintjob and relatively unusual proportions, asked us if it was Malaysian. When we replied it was French, he moved away, a little confounded that the French know how to make cars.
They do. Peugeot has been around since the turn of the century, and currently accounts for the largest automotive export numbers for France and makes up a significant majority of sales in Europe. With a range populated by hatchbacks, crossovers, SUVs and MPVs, that's no surprise. And now, it's here in Bangladesh.
So what exactly is the 2008?
Peugeot claims it's an SUV via the official brochures and ad campaigns. We can clear it out—it most certainly is not. The dimensions, the overall demeanour and the driving position make that clear. It's not a hatchback either—it has a large-ish trunk (422 litres of space) and too wide and tall of a bootlid to make it anything other than a tall crossover with hatchback-like dimensions. The 2008 is a Crossover Utility Vehicle. That's it.
The specs aren't exactly revolutionary, but it's packaged well.
Under the hood, you'll find Peugeot's proprietary PureTech enabled 1.2 litre 4 cylinder turbo petrol. Paired to a six-speed automatic, the 2008 finds a 110 HP at 5500 RPM and 155 lb-ft of torque available as low as 1500 RPM. Weighing in at a measly 1150 KG kerb weight, the 2008 walks the fine line of driving thrill, fuel efficiency (official estimate stands at 17 km/l) and cruising power. But more on that later.
The interior gets the traditional French treatment—textured dash with premium-feel materials, multi-level ergonomic placement of minimalist switchgear and infotainment, funky instrument cluster and grippy seats that hold you tightly in place during hard cornering but offer loads of comfort while sitting in traffic. The touch screen infotainment system has a total of two buttons and a single knob, offering you Bluetooth, Aux, AM/FM/CD and phone connectivity.
Interior space is one of the biggest downsides to the 2008's portfolio. For any tall driver or front passenger, moving the front seats back to a comfortable position means robbing the rear seats of any justifiable leg-room. The rear seats don't fold down either, making the rear bench a bit of an odd nut to crack. The lack of legroom is compensated for by tall windows and the panoramic (closed) roof that makes visibility a breeze. Proximity sensors combined with those tall windows make the 2008 an easy car to manoeuvre in city traffic.
Elsewhere, the 2008 would make sense for a relatively newly married couple, their tiny offspring and the weekend shopping bags, but in Bangladesh's relative crazy social structure, the 2008 is somewhat of a selfish buy.
There are plenty of reasons to be selfish with the 2008, though.
The low kerb weight and relatively high power-to-displacement ratio make the 2008 a fascinating car to drive in a city environment. The torque, which makes itself readily available from the get-go, is addictive in Sport mode. Pair that with the pseudo-Macpherson type front and cross deformable rear suspension and you have a crossover that makes you want to take every 90-degree corner as if you're clipping the apex of a racetrack. 10.3 seconds to 100 km/h is by no means fast, but the power delivery makes the 2008 a very fun car to drive and be in. Hard cornering yields very little understeer and nearly no noticeable body-roll, and the thickly padded steering tightens up and urges you to push it a little further. The 2008 is confidence inspiring, and the power is fully useable. You can tell this is a car developed by the same brand that made hot hatch greats like the 205 GTI. At the same time, the Peugeot soaks up bumps fairly well, although it's definitely harsher than the typical sedan with the 2008 limited by its short-ish wheelbase.
Is the driving feel enough to warrant a purchase?
The 2008 is a fantastic little crossover. It has the right mix of equipment, durable interior materials and driving feel, but the lack of space is a big downside. Despite being the right kind of car, the 2008 is in the wrong kind of a market. To be extremely frank, the 2008 is an odd proposition for Bangladesh—for the price, there are better options for the space-conscious buyer. But what they'll be missing out on is perhaps one of the best Europe can offer in the crossover segment.
Engine: 1.2 litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol (110 HP @5000 RPM, 155 lb-ft)
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD.
Safety: ABS with EBD, ESP, six airbags.
Features: Dual-zone automatic climate control, cornering assist fog-lamps, tyre pressure sensors, 17-inch alloys, panoramic roof, seat height adjustment, Mirror Screen, Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Park Assist with reverse camera, 7-inch touch screen infotainment system,
Price: Starting from TK 39,50,000.
For details, contact AG Motors Ltd.
Photos: Rahin Sadman Islam