For 2020, there’s a new generation of the 2008, and it’s been getting a lot of attention around the world. That attention has been reflected in New Zealand, as the 2008 is a finalist in the New Zealand Car Of The Year awards.

We last tested the Peugeot 2008 in 2017, with me behind the wheel. I loved that car, the ‘heads-up’ display really worked, and the diminutive 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder engine was a ball of fun.

Is the new model really that good? Is it that much better than the last gen 2008? I must admit, this was one review I was looking forward to – spending a week behind the wheel of a top-spec 2008 GT.

The Range

There’s three models in the New Zealand 2008 range; Active, Allure, and GT. The lower two modes have a 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder turbo petrol motor (with a denomination of 130) that puts out 96kW of power and 230Nm of torque. The GT has a variation of this motor (named 155), but power is up to 114kW, and torque 240Nm. The Active and Allure run a 6-speed automatic, while the GT has an 8-speed auto. All are front-wheel drive. Fuel consumption is interesting – the more powerful motor is more economical than the other motor across all ranges, for example the combined rating is 6.1, while it’s 6.5 for the 130 engine. The more powerful engine also has less CO2 emissions.

The Active model has 16” alloy wheels, while the Allure moves up to 17”, and the GT 18”.

Safety features rate highly across all models, with even the base model having Emergency Braking Assistance, hill start assist, 6 airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, lane keep assist, speed limit recognition and recommendation, driver attention alert and forward collision warning.

The Allure also gets Advanced Grip Control, while the GT adds adaptive cruise control with stop and go function, a speed limiter, active emergency braking (with night function, pedestrian and cyclist detection), and active blind spot monitoring.

Other standard features for the base model include eco-LED headlights, LED DRLs, rear full 3D Peugeot ‘claw design’ lights with daylight function, automatic lights and wipers, follow-me-home light function, wheel arch extensions, Peugeot i-Cockpit, a leather steering wheel, heated mirrors, all windows one touch, rear parking sensors with a 180-degree camera, keyless start, a 7” centre touchscreen, and 6-speaker audio.

If you buy an Allure, you also get front fog lights with cornering function, twin chrome exhaust tips, Peugeot’s 3D i-Cockpit, LED interior lights, 2-position modular boot floor, upgraded upholstery, climate AC, an electric park brake, front parking sensors, keyless entry as well as keyless start, a 10” centre touchscreen, and extra USB ports.

The GT goes all out of course, with a black diamond roof, over-tinted rear windows, ambient lighting options, paddle shifters, full-grain and perforated leather steering wheel with GT logo and stitching, front & rear floor mats, Alcantara and leatherette upholstery, ‘Dynamic’ front seats, heated front seats, parking assist, and Qi wireless phone charging.

The big news for Peugeot with the 2008 is the introduction of a 5-year 100,000km warranty, the first Peugeot to receive this. There’s also some fixed-price servicing plans available.

Colour choices are interesting. The base Active model comes in only black or white – that’s it, and even then, white is included as free, but if you want black it’s an additional $550. The Allure comes in white as well, but black and the other colours – Orange Fusion, Cumulus Grey, Nimbus Grey, Elixir Red, Vertigo Blue, and Pearl White – range from an extra $500 to $950.

  • Active: $33,990
  • Allure: $39,990
  • GT: $45,990

There’s a launch special happening with the GT model, and here’s the comparison with the standard GT:

GT LAUNCH EDITIONGT
$47,990$45,990
Front & Rear parking sensors
Reversing Camera
No Park Assist
Front & Rear parking sensors
Reversing Camera
Park Assist
FOCAL Hifi system (standard, invoiced + $1,500)Standard audio system
Opening panoramic sunroofOpening panoramic sunroof Optional (+ $2,500)
Puncture repair kitSpace saver spare wheel
18” Black alloy wheels (standard, invoiced + $500)Optional (+ $500), 18” standard alloy wheels
AlarmNo alarm
Euro 6.3 engine, with Stop&Go systemEuro 6.1 engine, no Stop&Go system

You can read more about the 2008 on Peugeot New Zealand’s website.

First Impressions

I doubt there’s many who don’t like the look of the new 2008. It’s sharp, modern, funky. While some of the Japanese and Korean SUVs are getting pretty bloody stylish these days, the 2008 schools them all. Part of this, for me, was the colour our test car was finished in – Orange Fusion. It looked brilliant from any angle. I doubt it would be as funky if it was grey or silver.

There’s some sharp crease lines on the side of the car, very hard to miss, with Peugeot suggesting it creates the appearance of forward motion, “the purposeful stance hinting at its performance capability”.

There’s no doubt about it: the 2008 GT in Orange Fusion is a stand-out in the supermarket car park.

The Interior

Jumping in the driver’s seat, there is an object that instantly draws your eyes in: that tiny, almost octagonal steering wheel. It looks like it belongs on a go-kart, or a fighter jet. Part of the reason for its size is because of the 2008’s 10” 3D i-Cockpit, which means simply that the dashboard is much higher up in the car. As with the last 2008, the temptation was there to lift the steering wheel up and view the instruments through the gap in the wheel, but this is not how Peugeot want you to use it; Keep the wheel low so the top edge of it is just below the instruments, and you are good to go. More on that 3D i-Cockpit later.

But that tiny wheel, everyone commented on it. Once I handed the 2008 back I got into a Skoda Kamiq and thought I was driving a bus. It’s small on the 2008, but you get used to it very quickly. There’s some funky green stitching on it too, and this is carried over to the doors and dash. The seats have grey stitching on them instead of green. Luckily there is that green stitching, because the whole interior of the car is black. Being quite a small car, this can make it feel a bit claustrophobic, but our test car did have an optional $2,500 electric sunroof, which helped no end to lighten the interior up.

I went to adjust the seat in the car, but weirdly – even though this is the top-spec GT model – there’s no electric adjustment, and not even any lumbar adjust. You get height adjustment using a lever, and that’s your lot. Seat material is a mix of leather and Alcantara, always a great combination. It means they aren’t freezing when you first sit on them, and the suede really helps keep you planted in your seat. The front seats have three heat settings, with the buttons at a weird angle facing sideways. You get used to it, but passengers who get in the car will not be able to find the seat heat buttons without being told.

The actual finish of the car is generally very good. Panel fit inside is tight, and the soft-touch of textures and panels from any seat is quality. There’s loads of piano black used up front, and yes it does show fingerprints very quickly.

Up front there’s a drop-down panel on the lower front of the dash, and this is where the Qi wireless phone charger lives. Closing the door once your phone is on charge removes the temptation to look at it. If you do leave the panel (door) open, it has a small divider, which makes it perfect as a pen holder.

Above the Qi wireless charger is a row of toggle switches, made in real alloy, looking – and feeling – excellent. The labels for these are flat, so it is a bit tricky to see what each one does, but I expect over time you’d know them off by heart. Below the Qi charger are two USB ports; thankfully Peugeot have supplied both the newer USB-C port and also a ‘standard’ USB port for charging your device if you don’t have wireless phone charging.

The glovebox in the 2008 can fit a few pairs of gloves, and that’s about it. The glovebox door is a proper sort of width, but the actual storage part of it is very small – identical to the last model I tested in 2017. It’s too small to fit the car’s manual in, which lives in a pocket on the back of the front passenger’s seat.

Moving back down the centre console, there’s a smallish cubby back there, and this goes right up and under the cup holders, sort of a secret hiding place. Handy for your wallet when you go to the beach, I guess.

Rear seat passengers have a reasonable amount of legroom for the size of the car, but the electric sunroof does cut into headspace a bit. Front seat headroom is excellent.

In the boot, there’s a good amount of space at 434 litres, and there’s a flat floor to load onto. But if you do need extra height or space, the false floor panel can be lifted out and dropped down on top of the actual floor. Under that is normally a space-saver spare, but our test car was the launch special model, instead having a Focal sound system, with a massive subwoofer taking up the entire space under the floor, where the space saver would normally go.

Weirdly, again for a top-spec car, there’s no electric tailgate.

The Drive

I was desperate that Peugeot had not played too much with that gem of an engine, the 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder turbo. They haven’t, and in fact it’s more powerful and has more torque than before, now putting out 240Nm of torque at a low 1,750rpm (previously power was 81kW and torque 205Nm). That’s an incredible number for such a small engine, and in comparison, the Skoda Kamiq I moved into has a 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo motor and puts out the same amount of torque.

You can feel it in the driving, as the 2008 just wants to go, anytime, anywhere. It’s a real joy to drive, that 8-speed automatic nicely paired up with the engine. It still feels a bit wrong to have an 8-speed auto gearbox in a 1.2-litre car, but it works well. Thankfully, the DCT automatic transmission doesn’t suffer too much from DCT Jerk, so taking off from a roundabout, stop sign or traffic lights is relatively smooth. If you floor it in the wet or dry, you will get some axle tramp up front as the car struggles to get grip. Once it grips though, you are away with the noise of that three cylinder for music.

Quite often we find that cars with loads of torque do well when driven in Eco mode, as the torque makes it an easy drive, and you save gas and emissions. This wasn’t the case with the 2008 as it felt a bit too lethargic in Eco mode. I generally left it in Normal drive mode, but did stick it in Sport mode a few times. This transforms the engine, and makes it even more eager. It’s licensing-losing stuff as the car wants you to drive it even harder, so Normal mode it was for me. To give you a hint of its pedigree, this engine is a four-times winner of the International Engine of the Year (2015-18).

That’s not to say the 2008 GT is hard to drive, far from it. It’s smooth, and in fact on the motorway at a steady throttle, it’s almost silent. There’s not much wind noise either, and motorway travel is bliss. If you do want a bit of noise, just put your foot down, and you’ll be rewarded with a nice burble from the turbo triple. It sounds excellent when you push it, but I’ve got to say there are times when it sounds a bit like a diesel, as it takes on a bit of a rattle. It’s not often, and it’s not bad, but it is different.

Performance is very good off the mark, and the 2008 GT will get you to 100km/h in 8.4 seconds. That’s moving along quickly for a car in this segment with such a small engine. While I had the car, my wife and I went away for the weekend, and as she does, decided to take half the house with us. I may be exaggerating a little (or am I?), but the poor 2008 was maxed out with apparently “essential” stuff. I was worried performance and driveability might suffer, as we were carrying a lot of extra weight. I needn’t have worried, as it barely had any impact on the car’s performance or handling. This was a bit of a revelation for me, for a 1.2-litre engine, it did incredibly well.

Ride quality is French; in other words, very good, bordering on excellent for a small, light SUV. It mostly glides over any bumps, and was often commented on by passengers who weren’t even ‘car people’. Visibility is not the best, with those almost-tiny rear windows, and a large C pillar. There is blind spot monitoring, and you need it. There’s always compromises like this when you have a sexy design. The 2008 GT is fitted with a 360-degree camera system to help you out when parking, and it’s also one of the ones that comes on when you simply get too close to an object. This is one of the major benefits of a 360-camera that can’t be undervalued. It’s awesome.

If you are moving quickly, the brakes are certainly up to it. Brake pedal feel is superb, and quick emergency stops are an uneventful breeze. Steering feel is good too, and in most driving situations, that small steering wheel feels just right. It’s suede covered too, and is bliss to drive with. There is one issue with the steering though; the GT model has a self-steer mode, where you hold the wheel, and the car will keep you in your lane, assisting you when you are using adaptive cruise control. But it’s far too aggressive, and you end up fighting the steering to keep it on track. It gets confused by motorway off-ramps too, and will often try and take you off the motorway, which can be a bit alarming. It all gets a bit weary on the driver, and I ended up turning it off. I’m happy to say it stays off too, so when you get back in the car again, it’s not on again automatically.

There is an electric park brake in the 2008, but for some reason Peugeot have decided not to fit brake auto-hold into the car, which seems like a weird omission. Not the end of the world, but a little strange. The car is also fitted with semi-automatic parking, so this means you do this gas and brake, and the car will control the steering for you.

Speaking of adaptive cruise, it works well in the 2008, nice and smooth. Interestingly, the cruise control is operated by a stalk on the left side of the steering wheel, but it’s completely hidden by one of the steering wheel spokes – so it’s all down to touch and memory to use it. Not the end of the world, but even though it’s a stalk, the stalk doesn’t actually move up or down – adaptive cruise is only operated by buttons on the stalk. My brain struggled with this a bit. All in all, adaptive cruise is good, and there’s a ‘MEM’ button, so if you pass a speed limit sign change, you can double-tap the MEM button and adaptive cruise (or speed limiter, if that’s what you are using at the time) will increase/decrease to the new speed limit.

This sounds good, and it does sort of work, but the traffic sign recognition in this 2008 wasn’t too reliable, often missing really clear speed signs, so the MEM button prompt didn’t appear, as the car had no idea the speed limit had changed. Adaptive cruise control will bring you to a stop, and that’s always appreciated. There are still new cars out there that don’t do this.,

Back to that tiny steering wheel; it has audio controls of course, but they are split left to right. So you change tracks with a thumbwheel on the right side, and change volume with two buttons on the left side. This feels really strange, as you’d think they’d either be on the same side of the wheel, and that the thumbwheel would operate volume up/down. Not only that, but there is a thumbwheel on the left side of the wheel, but this is used to change the ‘3D’ dashboard display. I don’t really think 2008 drivers are going to be changing their dashboard that often, so this could have been moved to another less obvious place. But maybe I’m just being picky.

So what about the “3D i-Cockpit” dash? On the whole, it’s pretty cool. You can choose from six different dashboards, with two of them customisable. There’s options like Navigation, Dials, Minimum. They are all different, and all usable. You can either pick your favourite, or move between them depending on say if you were trying to get somewhere, and were using SatNav. I’ve got to say the screens can be a bit slow to change as they go through a bit of an animation sequence, but the 3D effect is pretty nice, as (for example) the speedo sticks out from the rest of the dashboard. Peugeot calls it a hologram effect, and it’s a great party trick.

The centre screen can also show SatNav of course, along with a plethora of other options. Sadly, there’s no home screen where you can show multiple items, so you pick a screen and are stuck with it, unless you change to something else. There’s soft buttons around the screen to pick from things like Media, Phone, Map, and above the alloy toggle switches, there are some other buttons to take you to screens like air con.

Speaking of air con, one of the alloy toggles is for the fan, so you’d think that would be where you adjust the fan settings. But, because French, it’s not. That button simply turns the fan off or on, and to adjust the fan speed, you need to touch the button above the alloy toggle switch, and that will take you to the air con menu on the screen where you adjust the fan speed. It’s all a bit complicated, and reminds me of a Tesla where you can only adjust certain things from the screen.

The seats are very comfy, and have excellent side support. For some people they might be a bit too tight, but even with no lumbar adjustment, the seats are spot on.

Often when we have a small engine driving a bigger car, fuel economy suffers. Manufacturers will often claim the car is much more economical than a car with (say) four cylinders, but more often than not our real world testing doesn’t agree with that. How did the puny power plant in the Peugeot do? Over 450km of driving, it used fuel at 7.1 litres per 100km. Peugeot suggests it should return 6.1L/100km, so I wasn’t too far off that. Still, for the performance you have at your disposal, I thought it was more than acceptable.

The Competition

Brand/ModelEnginePower/Torque
kW/Nm
Cargo capacity, litresFuel consumption, L/100kmBase Price – High to Low
Peugeot 2008 GT FWD1.2-litre, 3-cylinder turbo petrol114/240 4346.1$45,990
Volkswagen T-Cross FWD1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol110/2504555.5$43,990
Skoda Kamiq Monte Carlo FWD1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol110/250 4005.5$42,990

The Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Engine noise, performance
General comfort levels
Fit and finish
Transmission
Styling
3D cockpit
Flexible boot arrangement     
Some switch placements
Traffic sign recognition
Vehicle TypeSmall/medium, 5-door, front-wheel-drive SUV
Starting Price$45,990
Price as Tested$47,990
Engine1.2-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Power, Torque
kW/Nm
[email protected],500
[email protected],750
Transmission8-speed dual-clutch automatic
0-100km/h, seconds8.0
Spare WheelSpace Saver
Kerb Weight, Kg1,264
Length x Width x Height, mm4300x1815x1550
Cargo Capacity, litres434/1467
Fuel capacity, litres44
Fuel EfficiencyAdvertised Spec – combined – 6.1L/100km
Real World Test – combined –  7.1L/100km
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
680/1200
Turning circle, metres10.4
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty5 Years, 100,000km Warranty
5 Years Roadside Assistance
ANCAP Safety Ratings5 Star
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Economy
7
Interior
8
Performance
8
Safety
8
Styling
9
Value
7
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How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm also an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

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