Can the Peugeot 2008 crossover make more of a mark than the estate it replaces?

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Niche is the new mainstream, particularly when considering models like the Peugeot 2008. Take a look through the top 10 best-selling cars in the UK and that much is obvious.

Nissan ditched the Primera – a conventional large family car – more than half a decade ago, yet now its replacement, the supposedly niche Nissan Qashqai crossover, sits proudly on Britain’s best-sellers list, although its aura may be fading with the arrival of the Seat Ateca. Its smaller Nissan Juke sister model has done the same since its debut, and it’s a theme replicated throughout Europe.

The Peugeot is designed as a practical and compact crossover

Not surprising, then, that there has been an upsurge in family-friendly, quasi-SUV crossover models, of which the Peugeot 2008 is a Peugeot Peugeot 208 supermini-based, four-metre-long entrant into an increasingly crowded market.

In common with most manufacturers (excepting the likes of the Lada Niva and Fiat Panda 4x4), Peugeot doesn't exactly have a long history of small SUVs.

Until the recent expansion of its range, the closest the French manufacturer came to all-road cars were pick-up versions of the 404 and grey-bearded 504s, which are still common in Africa. The '2' prefix, which now denotes a compact Peugeot, stretches back 84 years to the 201 of 1929. The most recent attempt was in the shape of the Peugeot 4007, which wasn't duly replaced telling you all you need to know about its impact.

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The compact crossover market, however, lacks an obvious superstar model. There’s the aforementioned Juke, the Vauxhall Mokka, the likeable Skoda Yeti and the Dacia Duster, whose parsimony has won it many admirers, us included. 

But still there’s this nagging doubt that the small, tall car market is calling out for an obvious class leader. Question is, can Peugeot's new entrant provide it? We intend to find out. 



Peugeot 2008 rear

Like most of its rivals, the 2008 is a typically straightforward piece of engineering. While considerably more meat has been added, the platform beneath the taller car is the same as the one that underpins the Peugeot 208, and while it may be jacked up by 96mm, there’s no four-wheel drive option to drastically alter the similarities.

Instead, as with the larger 3008, Peugeot offers its selectable Grip Control system as an answer to slippery situations and has only mildly fettled the hatch’s MacPherson strut/torsion bar suspension set-up to suit. 

The 2008 has a steel monocoque construction

Cosmetically, the crossover is a mixed bag. The 208’s overwrought front end is patched neatly on to the bigger nose, but the insubstantial profile and flabby rear make the car an inconsistent presence in the metal. The 2016 Geneva Motor Show saw Peugeot facelift the 2008, which saw the exterior gain a new front grille, extended wheel arches and scuff plates all to give it a more muscular appearance. Inside Peugeot managed to squeeze more storage and boot space from the 2008 as well as fitting a new automatic gearbox.

Regardless of the visual impact, the extended roofline adds practicality. Seat-up boot space increases by 75 litres over the 208, substantiating the 2008’s claim to the now-deceased SW’s place in the range.

However, the additional metalwork comes at a price. Peugeot claims a kerb weight of 1180kg for the 1.6 e-HDi model, but we registered 1310kg when we weighed a test car – 230kg more than the Peugeot 208 tested last year.

The Peugeot's engine range consists of small-displacement petrol and diesel units. A three-cylinder 1.2-litre 82bhp engine with stop/start is offered, alongside an 82bhp engine without stop/start, as well as a 108bhp and 128bhp versions of the same engine available for those seeking a little more performance.

Diesel options include a 1.6-litre e-HDi diesel in 74bhp, 99bhp and 118bhp outputs. The range may not end there in the future, with Peugeot toying with the idea of creating a 2008 GTi to rival the Nissan Juke Nismo, and while there are no firm details, it has been apparently earmarked for the end of this decade.



Peugeot 2008 interior

Trim levels consist of Access A/C, Active, Allure and GT-Line - with the entry-level models fitted with roof rails, a rear spoiler, cruise control, air conditioning, Bluetooth and USB connectivity as standard.

Upgrade to Active and the 2008 is adorned with 16in alloy wheels, front foglights, DAB radio and Peugeot's 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system, while Allure gives you 17in alloys, dual-zone climate control, ambient LED interior lights, rear parking sensors, and automatic wipers and lights.

The blue tint to the edge of the dials in some models is a classy touch

The range-topping GT-Line adds aluminium scuff plates and pedals, a panoramic sunroof, sat nav and a reversing camera

Peugeot’s interiors have been feeling progressively classier of late, and the 2008 is no exception. In fact, for a car based on a Peugeot 208 supermini, it’s impressively finished, with materials that easily pass a visual and prod test.

The large touchscreen is neat, albeit not a paragon of ergonomic brilliance, ancillary buttons are pleasingly finished and the metal gearknob is of a pleasingly tactile design.

It’s an airy cabin, too. As one passenger said, “it’s all glass”, with low window lines that are good for visibility, although poorer from a perspective of both design and perceived security (a high shoulder psychologically cocoons occupants).

Still, the 2008 has a refreshingly welcoming cabin. There are no ‘aimed at the driver’ cockpit touches here, save for a handbrake styled to look like an aircraft’s throttle.

What it isn’t, though, is especially voluminous. Front-seat occupants will find it spacious enough, but average-size adults sitting behind average-size adults will find their knees pretty close to the front seats. Still, the rear seatbacks fold nearly flat, and there are metal rails on the boot floor that make it easier to slide in heavy objects.

Generally, we found the driving position comfortable enough, although the floor mat of our test car obstructed the pedals annoyingly (although not dangerously) at times. But the small steering wheel/high-set dials combination is, as with the Peugeot 208 supermini, a mildly inconvenient to downright stupid solution, depending on how tall you are and your preferred driving position.

We actually like the small steering wheel, but if it has to be accompanied by an unreadable speedometer, we’ll live with a large one. Relocating the main dials to the centre of the dash and placing a digital speedo on the steering column would strike us as the sensible solution.


Peugeot 2008 side profile

The Peugeot 2008 is offered with an engine line-up of that comprises 1.2-litre petrols and 1.6-litre diesels, so there's something to suit most tastes.

Most, however, will probably sway towards the diesel units thanks to their headline-grabbing CO2 and fuel economy figures. The 1.6-litre e-HDi is offered in, 74bhp, 99bhp and 118bhp outputs, the first two are offered with a five speed manual, the latter a six-speed manual. 

Four-wheel-drive versions of the 2008 won't be offered

Judging by our previous experience of its direct rivals, the 1.6 e-HDi 118 variant of the 2008 offers a relatively impressive mix of virtues.

Under acceleration the Peugeot 2008 feels quite sprightly, with a 0-60mph time of 10.7sec. The 138bhp Skoda Yeti 2.0 TDI we tested was no quicker and the Mini Countryman Cooper D tested slightly slower.

There’s the off-boost hesitancy that’s often present in small turbodiesels, but it’s no problem to drive around once you’re rolling – particularly since the engine is quite refined at fairly high crank speeds – and it's much more punchy than the 1.2-litre petrol.

The manual gearchange has surprising definition and positivity, while the ratios are well spaced and uncompromised by any shortening for off-road use. 

Peugeot's 99bhp 1.6-litre e-HDi engine certainly doesn’t have the pull or acceleration we enjoyed in the higher-power 118bhp diesel, but it’s competent enough. Acceleration is clean and mid-range torque is well supplied between 1750-3000rpm.

The 2008, if you were in doubt, isn’t a serious off-roader. Occasional use on unsealed roads is no problem, not least because Peugeot UK is fitting hybrid off-road tyres to the 2008 as standard, in order to market it as an any-weather, any-season runabout, and our test car showed exactly the compromises you’d expect.

Tarmac traction levels, wet or dry, are lower than they might be, and that reflects conspicuously in stopping distances that are about 20 percent poorer than the class norm. Hybrid tyres simply don’t have the stiffness to transmit the peak longitudinal loads of an emergency stop as effectively as road tyres.

Having said that, traction on grass, gravel and mud is much better than it would be with a road tyre – just as it would be on snow, we’d venture – and there’s no penalty to be paid in terms of economy or refinement.

Road noise is much less of a factor in the 2008 than wind noise around the mirrors and A-pillars, the latter noticeable at motorway speeds.


Peugeot 2008 cornering

The 2008’s chief dynamic advantages are its perceived compactness and agility. While it’s nothing revelatory, driving this car makes the penny drop about Peugeot’s positioning. It may not be as convenient as a Mokka, as rugged as a Yeti or as divergent as a Nissan Juke, but on the road the 2008 handles, and handles well.

Even on hybrid tyres, it steers keenly and rides lumps and bumps with fluent control. Drivers will find it more like a well sorted, light-spirited supermini than a bigger family car – and plenty of them, we suspect, will quite like that.

Grip Control maximises traction in poor condition

Just as it does in the Peugeot 208, the small steering wheel works with a rack that’s quite direct just off-centre to give the car instant directional response. It turns in with immediacy and there’s little in the way of body roll to take the edge off its decent lateral grip levels.

There’s also a building sense of heft to the steering and a bit of feel to match that directness, so you don’t tend to overwork the front wheels. The effort you put in almost always seems proportionate to the response you get, which makes for an easy drive. You can’t say that about, for example, a Mini Countryman.

Peugeot's 2008 is highly competitive on rolling comfort, too. It isn’t softly sprung, but neither is it contrived in its firmness to seem artificially sporty or to create some craggy sense or purpose.

The chassis tune feels a bit more taut than the typical utility car, but quite subtle damping means that it handles most UK surfaces very comfortably and retains good vertical control even over the worst roads you’re likely to find. It’s highly compatible with British roads, then.


Peugeot 2008

It’s difficult to position the 2008 because the segment’s ground is ceaselessly shifting. Within 12 months, practically every mainstream car maker will have a crossover to supplement its more conventional offerings, and the potential for aggressive pricing strategies is clear. 

Peugeot seems to have parachuted the 2008 into about the right spot. The range is split into Access A/C, Active, Allure and GT-Line trims. 

Diesel models of the 2008 will most likely prove more popular with buyers

In entry-level form, the 2008's price point is in Dacia Duster territory, while Active trim rights the entry-level trim's wrongs. It is available with the lower-powered 1.6 e-HDi, which offers sub-100/km CO2 emissions and 74.3mpg if you opt for the EGC auto, and all for a reasonable price. It doesn’t, however, come with Grip Control; that’s reserved for the two higher tiers and isn’t an option with the cheaper engines. 

If you’re prepared to forsake four-wheel drive for Peugeot’s computer-aided system, Grip Control makes impressive financial sense. The Skoda Yeti can’t be had in a similar spec for anywhere near the same price and Nissan doesn’t offer the Juke as a diesel 4x4.

Added to which, few of the 2008’s rivals live up to the 1.6 e-HDI’s claimed frugality. Naturally, one we tested fell a good way short, but 59.2mpg while touring and a 48.9mpg average still puts it towards the head of the class.

Reliability should be good too, and the running costs should be low, partly thanks to the Peugeot's frugal engine range. 

The 2008 won't quite hold its value like the popular Nissan Juke, but it should return more than a Vauxhall Mokka.



Peugeot 2008 rear quarter

The Peugeot 2008 is a better car than you might expect it to be on several counts: on performance, on efficiency and not least on how it handles.

If you’re looking for an extra-useful supermini that drives with the instant, cheery responses of a small car, it might suit you very well.

There’s no lofty benchmark for the 2008 to fall glaringly foul of

But somehow it’s a bit predictable, a bit unadventurous, a little ‘me too’. If it were larger and had greater space and convenience, the 2008 would have a more obvious selling point.

Equally, were it more ostentatiously stylish, it might stand out more from a conventional hatchback.

Consequently the Peugeot 2008, even in its range-topping format, ultimately falls wide of the mark - not because it’s particularly objectionable, but because it fails in any meaningful sense to be properly memorable or praiseworthy.

As it is, the 2008 brings defunct added-value small cars to mind such as

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

Peugeot 2008 2013-2019 First drives