Test Drive: Peugeot 2008 1.6 e-HDI image

The small crossover offered by the French automaker has become an acquaintance to the inautonews.com team, with the 2008 being tested in two other occasions. The coordinates remain the same though; the model needs to prove its prowess in the crowded scenery of the fastest-rising segment in Europe.

If you live in the US, the Peugeot 2008 will be almost impossible to obtain, but we do want to remind you the segment has some very promising players, such as Buick’s Encore or the Mini Countryman.

Here in Europe the situation is fast reaching critical mass. Since Nissan’s odd-looking Juke sparked mass-madness, automakers have been swarming to bring their own takes on the new subcompact crossover niche. So, the Peugeot needs to battle some serious foes: Renault’s Captur, the Opel Mokka or Ford’s new EcoSport.

Design, Interior and Gadgets
So, the game is on, with European customers seemingly deeply in love with these little hatchbacks: they’re just as easy to park as a regular VW Polo for example, yet offer a high-riding position and more interior space, akin to a Sport Utility Vehicle.

The Peugeot 2008 is a sibling to the 208 model, sharing many technical underpinnings and the engines. Fortunately, design similarities on the outside are kept to a minimum, with the design only grounded by the latest brand language. Other than instantly recognizing the 2008 as a Peugeot, the legacy of its 208 sibling is nowhere to be seen: up front we have a more masculine attitude, supported by the black plastic inserts designed to protect the underbody. There are different headlights, a different grille and hood. So, as far as individuality is concerned, the 2008 could not be mistaken as a 208 SW (station wagon) even if there’s a night when the streetlights are out and the moon is hidden by clouds. The side of the 2008 is rather unusual, thanks to the ceiling’s two “humps” – a clever way to offer more interior space at the back (thank you Land Rover). At the back, the 2008 has a different design for the lights and the tailgate is definitely more usable than 208’s, thanks to a more regular shape and a lower loading sill that offers better access to the trunk.

While Peugeot did its homework when it comes to exterior styling, the same can’t be said about the cabin, where they basically have the same interior for both the 208 and 2008 models. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – the cost cutting kept the crossover’s price in check a little and the unconventional attitude will appeal especially to younger buyers. The 2008 mirrors Peugeot’s new design for the cockpit, with the instruments placed closer to the windshield and in the driver’s field of view above the very small steering wheel. The changes need first time drivers to adjust to the new setting, but the novelty will soon fade into habit – we experienced it more than once and still can’t say for sure the new layout really helps ergonomics or is just a fashionable gimmick. Regardless of the outcome this is Peugeot’s solution for the foreseeable future – and clients that don’t like it should at least give it a try before considering it a deal-breaker.

Also unusual is the high-mount position of the infotainment system’s display – but this time aesthetics are not the case, because it’s a touchscreen and need to be as close to the driver as possible. Ergonomics are not a problem, with very few buttons to search and the dual-zone automatic air conditioning system intuitive enough. Although the 2008 is significantly pricier than a 208 hatchback, the interior materials remain the same, albeit with zones fitted with the ugly, hard black plastics kept to a minimum for the segment.

Replacing what should have been the successor of the 207 SW, the 2008 really shines when it comes to interior space. Just 4159 mm long but with a good 1739 mm width and 1556 mm height, the model makes good use of the 2538 mm wheelbase. The cab forward architecture, which I personally find very unwelcome on any type of vehicle, but more so on small cars, has taken a small toll here fortunately. There’s plenty of room up front for two large-sized adults and in the back another two and a kid in the middle will have no problems on a longer journey. The partial leather-wrapped front seats proved especially satisfying on a long journey, with great lumbar support and overall comfort. The trunk offers 338 liters and there’s a 22-liter space hidden beneath the floor.

Engine, Transmission and Handling
Not so long ago I drove the 2008 in its base engine configuration, a 1.2 VTi gasoline unit. Now, it was time to meet the “king” of the hill, the e-HDI version of the 1.6-liter diesel engine that churns out 115 hp. It’s called an e-HDI because of the very clever Start/Stop system, but more on that in a second.

The 115 hp engine is well known in the subcompact class, and in my opinion is one of the very best offerings out there. It’s not very new, but has proven its durability in time and Peugeot constantly upgraded it over the passing years. It’s silent (okay, for a diesel) and vibration free. It offers 115 hp at 3600 rpm and a maximum torque of 270 Nm at 1750 rpm. More powerful than the 90 hp version, it’s the perfect companion to a family with at least three members that tends to travel a lot. Actually, when it comes to traveling, the range of the car is only limited by the 50 liters fuel tank – because mated to the six speed manual transmission the car seems to make do with just drops of diesel fuel.

If you followed some of my older reviews, you might have noticed that when it comes to mass-market automakers and their six-speed manuals I had numerous complaints. This time around, I am pleased to say the transmission really has six speeds, the 2008 reaching at highway speeds (130 km/h) a normal revolution count. That means lower interior noise form the engine and that incredible fuel economy.

Peugeot claims the 2008 makes do with 4.7 liters/100 km in urban driving, 3.6 liters outside and just four overall. The figures are not easy to obtain, but getting close to them is just a matter of habitude. That’s valid also for urban driving, thanks to the great Start/Stop system – I would rank it right next to the one made by Mercedes-Benz. It’s not making upsetting vibrations when it restarts the engine and is clever enough to cut the fuel at around 23 km/h – so if you’re careful enough you could reach the red light with zero fuel consumption 2-300 meters ahead.

The 2008 is not a proper SUV, so there’s no 4×4 system – Peugeot offers a substitute: the Grip Control electronic transmission first seen on the 3008. Made together with Bosch, the system uses the ESP sensors to determine which front wheel has more grip and distribute there the torque. It offers five modes: standard, snow, all terrain, sand and off; and could be used to get out of trickier situations – but be sure to not take it beyond its reach, nothing compares to a proper all-wheel drive system.

Handling is typical for a subcompact model, even as the driver has a rather high position. You only need to take into account the 2008 has a high center of gravity so its limits will be seen sooner than on a smaller hatchback. The steering system is exact but lacks any true feedback and the small steering doesn’t actually feel like the sport ones you could fit. The 2008 offers good ride comfort, silently taking in any pothole it encounters. Overall, the car can handle itself on the bends, but its main goal is to take you comfortably and very economical to your destination on the highway. The overall small dimensions and the higher driving position also facilitate urban usage.

Likes/Dislikes
Minus: the price is a little steep – customer demand has prompted the automakers to try and get serious profits from the small crossovers, especially when you compare them to the hatchback counterparts. Our test model was 17.975 euros, no optional accessories included – and you can find on that list the Grip Control, navigation system or the dual-zone automatic air conditioning system. Also, the cabin layout will not be to everyone’s liking.

Plus: great powertrain combination between the 1.6 e-HDI and six-speed manual transmission. The engine is silent, vibration free and utterly economical. Very smart Start/Stop system. Interior space and good front seats.

Photos by Gabi Gogiu

Price
Starting price – 17,975 EUR
Tested vehicle price – from 20,050
Tested Car – Peugeot 2008 1.6 e-HDi Allure

Engine: 1,6L turbo diesel (1,560 cc)
Power: 115 HP (150 kW) at 3,600 rpm
Torque: 270 Nm (200 lb-ft) at 1,750 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, fwd
Dimensions: length – 4,159 mm, width – 1,739 mm, height – 1,556 mm, wheelbase – 2,538 mm
Weight: 1,255 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50L
Trunk Capacity: 338L / 1,194L

0 – 100 km/h: 10,4s
Top Speed: 188 km/h
Fuel consumption: urban – 4,7L/100 km, highway – 3,6L/100 km, average – 4L/100 km

Rating:
3,4 / 5