Car Reviews

First Drive: 2020 Peugeot 2008 SUV

Paul Horrell’s 2019 Peugeot 2008 Prototype Review Ahead Of The Model’s Official Launch.

IN A NUTSHELL: Peugeot’s compact crossover has been wholly renewed. It’s now bigger than before, with an attractive cabin, tidy driving dynamics, and handy petrol engines.

2020 Peugeot 2008 prototype specs

Price N/A Warranty  5 years/ unlimited km Engine 1.2L petrol turbo Power 115kW at 5500rpm Torque 240Nm at 1750rpm Transmission 8-speed auto Drive front-wheel-drive Body 4300mm (l); 1815mm (w exc mirrors); 1987mm (w inc mirrors); 1550mm (h) Kerb weight 1205kg Seats 5 Fuel tank 44 litres Spare Space saver

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Peugeot 2008 review

Peugeot surprised itself with the success of the old 2008. The new one is bigger and more useful and takes a lot of its styling themes from the distinctive 3008.

Underneath, it’s very similar to the new-generation 208 supermini (and some sections of this review are shared). What follows are impressions of a late-stage prototype of the 2008. It felt very finished.

The new 2008 has a wheelbase 6cm longer than the old, and longer than the new 208 too, so it’s roomy. These compact crossovers often get used by people in cities as family cars, and also by retired people everywhere because they like the high seats and good forward view.

There’s no four-wheel-drive of course. It’s very much a crossover. However, there is an optional system with slightly chunkier-tread tyres, hill-descent control and an off-road setting for the traction control.

One interesting powertrain option is a full-electric version. The range is 310km WLTP, the battery capacity 50kWh. It’s the same setup we tested in a prototype Peugeot e-208 but the range is a little less because of the extra weight and drag in the crossover. We haven’t tested the e-2008 yet.

Peugeot has had a reputation for flaky cabin materials and unreliability. But the interiors of its recent cars have used really high-quality materials, and the reliability surveys are looking positive too.

WHAT’S THE INTERIOR LIKE?

This is a terrific-looking cabin – interesting shapes and plush materials are put together with flair. It feels more expensive than the rival Volkswagen T-Cross.

It’s roomy too. Rear headroom, legroom and foot space are up with the best of the little crossovers, and the boot at 434 litres is about 100 litres more than in the related 208. The boot floor can sit at either of two levels. In its upper position you get a secret space below, and a level load bay when the seats are folded.

The front seats are deeply bolstered and comfy enough, and optionally have a back massage function.

The upper dash is skinned in a combination of soft-feel plastic, embossed ‘carbon-effect’ decor (less cheesy than it sounds), some chromed bits, and contrast stitching. It feels upmarket, as does harmonising trim on the doors and seats. Seats have cloth, Alcantara or leather options.

The main dash layout is built around two screens. The driver’s one is a deep-dish wide octagonal binnacle. Its special trick is that it’s actually two screens superimposed, so the effect is that more important info seems to hover like a hologram closer to your eyes than the background stuff. You can toggle its layout to emphasise engine info, navigation instructions or driver assistance.

It’s clear and works well. Or at least, if it is a gimmick, it’s one that doesn’t detract from the primary purpose.

As with all Pugs these days, the driver’s binnacle is mounted high up, and the steering wheel is small, flat-topped and resides close to your thighs. So you look over the top of the wheel to read the instruments. Most drivers like this, though some will need to raise the seat or make the backrest more upright than usual.

Below the central infotainment screen is a row of expensive-feeling metallic toggle switches for central locking, heated rear screen, hazard flashers and so on. Tucked above them are capacitive buttons, not really distinguishable by touch, to switch between screen functions.

The climate system is in the screen rather than separate hardware controls. We’re not great fans of that arrangement.

Below, on the centre console, we find two cupholders and a large armrest box. Rear passengers get storage nets in the back of the front seats. Also reading lights, but no adjustable air vents.

WHAT’S THE INFOTAINMENT LIKE?

Base versions have phone mirroring as standard – Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.

Move up a level and the touchscreen grows to 10 inches, and the graphics and resolution are perfectly competitive in the small-car field. Connected navigation uses TomTom mapping and online info, and it works well enough.

All versions have six speakers. There’s also an optional high-end audio by Focal, also used in bigger Peugeots, and it’s terrific. The 10 speakers use fancy cone materials and are driven by a 12-channel 515W amplifier.

Also on the mid-spec and above you get a neatly hidden inductive phone charging plate and a four USBs around the cabin, one of them the new C-type.

WHAT’S THE PERFORMANCE LIKE?

The little 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine does an amazingly game job in its top tune of 115kW. It’s also available in 96kW and 75kW tunes – see our 208 review for what they’re like, bearing in mind this is a slightly heavier car.

In 115kW tune, there’s lots of mid-rev poke, but also it’s worth revving beyond 5000rpm to get the best all-out performance, by which time your ears really are telling you it’s working, but it’s not too strained.

It’s not a quick car, but it’s lively enough for its mission, and for the setup of its chassis. Acceleration from 0-100km/h is claimed to be 8.9 seconds.

Most of the time the eight-speed autobox shifts when you’d want, and does it smoothly. Like any other, it can get confused if you need to be on and off the throttle, as in a series of sharp bends. In those cases, use the paddle over-ride shifters.

WHAT’S IT LIKE ON THE ROAD?

Small crossovers aren’t on the whole great examples of the chassis engineer’s art. They suffer from either soggy handling or a hard ride. Sometimes both. But the 2008 strikes a good balance.

The steering is progressive, and the suspension allows the car to roll a bit, again with an angle that builds up proportionally to steering input. So it isn’t as sharp or responsive as a good supermini hatchback, but if you steer smoothly it’s a faithful machine.

Generally, it understeers, but not enough to ruin any fun, and if you lift the throttle in a hard bend it’ll gently tuck the nose in.

Because of the big flat bonnet it feels like a wide car when you first drive, but it’s actually handy for knowing where the sides are in narrow streets. Over-shoulder visibility is clogged up, mind, and when reversing you’ll be glad of the camera.

The ride is really rather good. On coarse tarmac and cobbled roads, it’s supple and graceful. Cruising is peaceful too.

WHAT ABOUT THE SAFETY FEATURES?

There’s no NCAP score yet. But the closely related DS 3 Crossback scored four stars. That’s not a great result, but it reflects the fact the DS does without autonomous braking as standard in some markets. Without that as standard, five stars are ruled out these days. In basic crash protection, the DS did well.

The 2008 shouldn’t suffer in the same way since it does have autonomous braking, including for pedestrians, on all versions. It uses both radar and camera so works at all speeds. It also includes distance alert if you follow too close to the vehicle ahead. The upper versions get a more advanced system, working at night and able to detect cyclists.

All 2008s have six airbags including rear curtains. All three rear seats have head restraints and three-point belts. There are two rear ISOFIX points and one on the front passenger seat.

All versions have lane-keeping assist. The top-trim one has full active cruise control with lane positioning assistance, that aims to keep you in the middle of the lane. The same safety pack includes blind-spot warning.

To help you see better, bright LED headlights feature on some versions.


Paul Horrell

Paul Horrell

Paul's working life has been paced out in cars. He began road-testing when the VW Golf was in its second generation. It's now in its eighth. He covers much more than the tyre-smoking part of the road-test landscape. He roots around in the financial machinations of the car corporations and the apparent voodoo of the technologies. Then he clarifies those complications so his general readers – too busy to lodge their heads up the industry's nether regions – get the fast track on what matters and what doesn't. A freelance writer living in London, he usually gets around the city by bicycle, which adds to his (sometimes justified) reputation as a bit green and a bit of a lefty. He's a member of Europe's Car of the Year jury.