What The Pug Say | Peugeot 2008 e-HDi

BY Azfar Hashim

A jacked-up 208 with extra cabin space; sounds like an interesting proposition doesn’t it? Oh, and it’s a diesel too…

Photos: Azfar Hashim

Volkswagen CrossPolo, Nissan Juke, MINI Countryman, they’re all the same:  hatchback-sized SUVs for the city dweller. For the sort who prefers driving with a commanding view of the road ahead, but do not require a full-blown SUV (read: unnecessary space consuming) for the daily grind.

Now meet Peugeot’s latest two-oh-oh-eight, the latest option for those looking around for a tall and easy mini SUV to drive around town.

The 2008 may seem big, but to be honest, it is not at all intimidating to drive. Measuring in at 4,157 mm long, 1,739 mm wide and 1,570 mm tall, it has the most generous dimension compared to the CrossPolo, Juke and Countryman (the Countryman has the longest wheelbase though). In fact, parking it is a cinch with the electric, speed-sensitive steering turning feather weight when you need to do the one-thousand-and-one movements to get into the lot. In fact, if you find difficulty maneouvering into a parallel lot, you have to blame the idiot in front or behind for edging into your lot.

Then there’s the airy cabin. Ok, so the driver’s seat do not provide adequate support for enthusiastic driving, but it does give enough comfort for long-distance driving; if your commute includes doing the Pasir Ris — Tuas run on a daily basis, I am glad to report that you will never have to worry about any sort of backaches. The perfectly sized steering wheel deserves special mention too. Oh, and the handbrake lever that mimics an aeroplane’s throttle lever is a very cool touch, Peugeot.

Control buttons and displays surround the driver in a non-awkward position to say the least. However, there were some niggles as expected; firstly, the air-con controls are placed a little too low and can be hard to reach when you are driving and trying to adjust the temperature. Then, the 7-inch touchscreen head-unit that requires you to really, really touch it with the correct amount of pressure to operate; it gets a little irritating especially when you are in a hurry and need the GPS… pronto.

Complaints aside, the head-unit does have a whole lot of things in there: a myriad of multimedia options and even the controls for the 2008’s interior and exterior lighting just to name a few. Just don’t be surprised if Peugeot starts deploying iPads soon though…

The rear of the cabin is spacious enough for three average-sized adults to seat abreast. We’ve also checked (are you sure Peugeot? Confirm? Double confirm?) and confirmed that the wide glassroof comes standard at no extra cost. What doesn’t come standard is suntan lotion…

If you need a large boot space, we’re glad to report that for an SUV its size, the 2008 is, again, generous in this department. Need more space? Simply bring down the rear seat’s backrest, remove the parcel shelf and… Tadaa. You could even double up as a delivery driver on weekends using this 2008 (#justsaying)…

Powering the 2008 is a — get ready for this — a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder, 16-valve turbocharged common rail direct injection diesel powerplant. Yes, you read that right: it’s a d-i-e-s-e-l. Paired to a 6-speed EGC (Electronic Gearbox Control) transmission, there’s 92 bhp and — most importantly — 230 Nm of torque at your disposal.

It takes 11.8 seconds to do the century sprint, and if you’re not familiar with the PSA gearbox, getting there may come across as, ermm, nauseating. You see, there were too much movements during gearshifts and if you’re from a CVT background, the EGC unit here will come across as a culture shock. The best (or only) way to drive the 2008 is by swapping your own gears via the steering-mounted paddle shifters, and drive it like a manual: Which means lifting your foot off the throttle when changing gears. Plus it makes you feel like an F1 driver too (although F1 speed and tenacity is not included at all).

That aside, the 2008 is a comfortable car out on the expressway with the cabin well suppressed against unwanted noise. It has no problem maintaining speed on the first lane, covering any gaps with ease. Even in peak-hour CBD traffic, it responses fairly well to your right foot, ensuring you give no chance to lane-swapping gits.

At the end of the day, what the 2008 really offers is French style with a touch of practicality on top of a generous amount of equipment. If you’re the sort who cover long distances on a daily basis and do not want to get sucked into bland commute, you won’t go wrong with this one. Over the course of half a week with it, what yours truly found outstanding about this mini SUV is the fuel economy: although it was no where close to Peugeot’s claim of a combined cycle of 26.3 km/L, the 18 km/L I’ve averaged is respectable enough.

I still wished Peugeot had stuck to a more conventional transmission though…